Thursday, April 26, 2012

3 Pizzas, 1 Crust

I came across a recipe for a no-rise pizza crust recipe that makes 3 crusts over at Mom on a Mission.  I first made this recipe with my 3 girls when they were off from school a few weeks ago.  I loved the ease of the crust, and I loved that it made 3 full size pizzas.  Each girl got to be a pizza chef and make a big pizza.  They each thought that was great!  We had been watching episodes of Worst Cooks in America on Food Network, so they all pretended they were in the kitchen under the eye of Chefs Ann and Bobby.  Then we did a taste test just like they did on tv.  We decided that the crust had great taste, but we needed to do a little bit more work on the texture before it could become blog worthy.

I'm happy to report that I think I've tweaked the recipe enough to make it worthy of being on the blog as a budget friendly, easy to fix, family favorite recipe!   I made a batch of pizzas yesterday because we needed a dinner on the go.  I whipped up 3 pizzas during the littlest one's rest time, and we had a great dinner on the go with plenty of leftovers for lunch and to stash in the freezer for snacks in the days/weeks to come.  I had stocked up on shredded cheese last week when I found it for under $3/lb and added on some various toppings that I found in the frig so this was even cheaper than the $5 pizzas at Little Caesars and much better!

3 Pizzas, 1 Crust
Cheese, Pepperoni and Sausage, and Supreme
A pizza to please all the eaters around our table

The trick to making these pizzas really good is to bake the crust just a few minutes BEFORE you add the toppings.  It gives the pizza crust a crunchier texture, more like the pizza you buy from a pizzeria.  The crust has a hint of italian seasoning in it, so it tastes great with just cheese and sauce on top or loaded with any of your favorite toppings.  We sprinkled on some parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes like they do at pizzerias.  I chose to use a mix of all purpose and white whole wheat flour.  I'm sure that all purpose flour would work, too.  I just try to add in some extra fiber/goodness where I can.

I have recently started making my homemade pizza sauce using tomato paste instead of tomato sauce, and I like the thickness and depth of flavor that the paste provides.  If you like your sauce a little spicier or a little sweeter, add some pepper or sugar.  The sauce will also freeze well if you find a large can of tomato paste on sale.  The small size can makes just enough sauce for 3 pizzas.  I love that you can just mix the ingredients for the sauce without having to heat them first.

I also like how this cooked pizza freezes and reheats.  I like to have a stash of pizza in the freezer for days that we don't have anything else for the lunch box.  A couple pieces of cheese pizza thaw in time for the girls to enjoy at lunchtime, and the texture did not change dramatically from the way it tastes out of the frig.  I froze my leftovers in individual packages.  It also reheats in the microwave pretty well from either the freezer or frig.  It loses a little bit of its crispiness, but it's not as flimsy as other dough recipes I have tried.

Finally, I think that you could make the crusts in a batch cooking session, bake them partially, and then freeze them either with or without the toppings.  You could have a stash of frozen pizzas for a fraction of the cost of a store bought frozen pizza.  I plan to try this method the next time.  Frozen pizzas are very handy in the summer months when the kids have friends over, and we need a quick lunch or snack.

3 Pizzas, 1 Crust
Ready to bake or to freeze

Here's the recipe:

3 Pizzas - 1 Crust
3 cups all purpose white flour
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp yeast
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
2 cups warm water
4 Tbsp oil (canola or olive)

1.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, and Italian seasonings.
2.  Add the water and oil.
3.  Mix well until dough forms into a ball. (I used my Kitchen Aid with the dough hook, but a wooden spoon would work too)
4.  Sprinkle top of dough with extra flour (dough will be VERY sticky) and divide dough into 3 portions.
5.  Pat dough onto 3 greased pizza pans (I used disposable ones because I don't own 3 pizza pans - yet!)
If the dough seems too sticky, just add a little more flour.  (I used my Pampered Chef Pizza Roller to help spread out the dough evenly.)
6.  Bake for 8-10 minutes in a preheated 450 degree oven until the crust looks dry.
7.  Top with your favorite pizza sauce and toppings.
8.  Bake an additional 8-12 minutes until pizza is bubbly and cheese starts to brown.
9.  Let cool 5 minutes before slicing. (we do ours in small pieces rather than pie shaped wedges)

Whip up a batch of homemade pizza sauce in just minutes
with these simple ingredients from your pantry.

Pantry Pizza Sauce
1 6 oz can tomato paste
6 oz water (use water to rinse can out)
3/4 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley

1. Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.
2. Spread on top of 3 pizza crusts.

Can also be used as a dip for cheesy bread sticks or stromboli.

What toppings would you choose to put on 3 pizzas for your family?

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