Welcome to Cooking 101!
I’ve decided to start a new series here on the blog, highlighting tips and tricks that I wish I had known when I first started cooking 8 years ago. Some posts will have recipes, some might not.
I mostly just want these Cooking 101 posts to be helpful (for you and for me!). When I first stepped into the kitchen, there was SO much I didn’t know. And I am still a complete novice some days, but I’ve definitely learned some things over the years.
But I don’t want to just be giving out tips and tricks – I want you to share yours, too! Maybe your approach for a certain dish or food is the complete opposite of how I work. Tell me about it! Anything that helps in the kitchen is always good to know, especially if it saves time and the amount of dirty dishes.
To start, I thought it would be good to talk about making pizza at home.
Growing up, I never thought you could make a pizza at home that could rival good restaurant pizza. But I think we’ve got it figured out!
For our homemade pizzas, the three most important things are:
- A good, homemade dough recipe
- High baking temperature (475-500 degrees)
- Freshly shredded cheese (i.e., NOT pre-shredded cheese)
I’m a big fan of mixing up our own pizza dough, mostly because everything I’ve found that’s premade just doesn’t taste good. And even though most people eat pizza for the toppings, the crust should be just as good as the cheese and sauce, if not better!
And bonus! The crust recipe below makes enough for 2 pizzas. If you’re not ready to make two pizzas, you can throw the other half of the dough into the freezer so that it’s ready and waiting for you later. Or just keep it in the fridge for a few days and use it later in the week. It’s 2 meals out of one recipe!
As for the cheese, we used to get the bagged, pre-shredded cheese. I mean, it IS easier! It’s already shredded! But, with the bagged cheese, we were NEVER able to get it to bubble and brown on the pizza, even when baking on this high of a temperature. That’s because the bagged cheese is tossed with flour and/or other ingredients to keep it from clumping together. Just changing to block cheese and shredding it ourselves made our pizzas 100% better – it’s so much more satisfying to see a pizza coming out of the oven with golden, bubbly cheese!
What are your favorite homemade pizza tricks?
Homemade Pizza Dough
If there's one thing I think everyone should know how to make, it's homemade pizza dough. It makes such a difference compared to using a storebought/prebaked crust, and it's really not that much work! You can mix this up in seconds in the morning, and you let it work while you go about your day. It really can't get much easier than that.
- 1 and 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 and 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 package)
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- In a large bowl, mix the water, salt, and yeast together.
- Stir in the flour until you have a shaggy dough. Knead a few times with your hands - either on a flat surface or in the bowl (your choice!) - until all the flour is incorporated.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at least 2 hours or until doubled. *I often mix this up before leaving for work in the morning and let it sit on the counter all day until we get home around dinner time. The longer it sits, the better the flavor!
- Once the dough has doubled and you're ready to cook, cut the dough in half.
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough until it's about 1/4 of an inch thick. Top with your favorite sauce and toppings and bake at 475 degrees for 12-15 minutes.