When I say scratch, I mean scratch. I made the dough, sauce and ricotta cheese for this pizza. But each component is actually incredibly easy to make.
Conveniently, you can make each component in advance of the actual pizza baking day—great for birthday parties or sleepovers. I like to make extra dough (I often double the recipe) and refrigerate some of it. Later in the week or on the weekend, I have pizza dough ready to roll out and bake.
Step One: Make the Ricotta
I started by making the ricotta the night before I baked the pizzas. Once you taste homemade ricotta, you won’t be able to eat the store-bought stuff. I usually make it with cultured buttermilk, as in this post, but I have so many lemons right now, I decided to use a couple for this batch.
This yields about a scant 1 1/2 cups of ricotta, enough for two, 12-inch pizzas.
- 1/2 gallon whole milk
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt (if desired)
1. Heat milk slowly in a pot until reaches between 190 to 200 degrees—the temperature it hits just before it boils. Turn off the heat.
2. Add lemon juice and, if desired, salt. I find that ricotta for pizza needs salt. Wait 10 to 15 minutes for the curds to sink to the bottom of the pot.
3. Over a bowl, place a sieve lined with a thin towel. Pour the curdles and whey through the sieve.
4. Let the ricotta strain for about 15 minutes, depending on how wet you want it. Transfer it to a glass container and store in the fridge for up to a week or so.
You will have a shockingly large volume of whey left over. You can cook and bake with it. Whey freezes well also. I either pour it straight into jars or into an ice-cube tray and transfer the cubes to glass jars once they are frozen. (I freeze all sorts of food in glass.)
Step Two: Make the Dough
Sadly, I have yet to make a sourdough pizza crust that I like. The last one I made was pretty close though. I really wanted to like it… I’m almost there. For the pizza in this post, I used commercial yeast, which I can buy in bulk.
Since I have all this whey left over from my ricotta, I decided to use it instead of water for the dough. Nothing wasted here!
Yields dough for two 12-inch pizzas
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup warm whey or water (105° to 115°F)
- 1 1/2 cups white flour
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used spelt for this post)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra to grease the proofing bowl
1. Add the sugar and yeast to the whey or water and stir to combine. Let sit 5 minutes until bubbly.
2. Combine flour and salt. I use a wire whisk to combine dry ingredients.
3. Add olive oil to the yeast mixture.
4. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine.
5. Knead the ball a few times in the bowl to incorporate the flour into the dough. Add more flour if the dough is extremely sticky.
6. Dump the dough out into a floured surface and knead for about four or five minutes.
7. Place dough into a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let rest for several hours. You can make your pizzas after about 1 1/2 hours, when the dough has doubled in size.
Step Three: Make the Sauce
I make this while the dough rises and it requires only a few minutes to make. I used a jar of my frozen roasted tomatoes for this because tomatoes aren’t in season here yet. I don’t see the point in eating tomatoes out of season. They have zero flavor. I also don’t have fresh oregano or basil right now and so used dry. Fresh would taste amazing.
Yields about 2 cups
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 4 cups chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic for one minute.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for about 10 minutes, mashing the tomatoes with the back of your utensil as you stir.
3. Once the consistency is thickened, remove from heat. If your contains a lot of tomato peel (as mine did when I made this batch), purée it with an immersion blender (or a standard blender) if you prefer.
4. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for about a week. You can also freeze this sauce.
Step Four: Bake the Pizza
I have to warn you that my little oven—a step up from an Easy-Bake Oven—runs cool. If I ever write a cookbook, I’ll have to test all of my recipes using a real oven.
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Punch down the dough and divide it into two halves. If you want to bake only one pizza, put one ball in the refrigerator in a container and use it later in the week.
3. Roll out the dough into desired thickness.
4. Pre-bake the dough for about five minutes. I use a pizza peel to slip my pizza dough onto my hot baking stone. You can also bake on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle some corn meal on the cookie sheet if you go that route. With the pizza peel, sprinkle it with flour or cornmeal to make flicking the dough off the peel easier.
5. Remove from oven, spread on about 1/2 cup pizza sauce (or more), and sprinkle with cheese and toppings.
6. Bake for another 5 to 7 minutes.