This weekend, our home was invaded by a creature beyond compare. Hair the color of fire, spry and puckish, AND wakes up at 6:30 am ready and raring to go. This creature that I have just described is none other than our 8-year-old nephew and for reasons unknown, we shall refer to him as The Professor. It’s the first time his parents have let him spend the weekend at our house – and I think it went off without a hitch.
Pretty sure he didn’t want to go home, either. Hip, hip, hooray for a positively wonderful example of the corruption of our future generation.
Our adventure started as many often do – planning. And it kinda followed like this: “What do you want to do?” “Uhhhhhhh…. I don’t know. Blow something up.” A typical 8-year-old response, don’t you think? This progressed into what we wanted to make for dinner and then a resounding “PIZZA!” emerged from the fierce red-headed creature. Shortly following this climatic conversation we hopped in the trusty Squirrel’s Bane and began a trip to our local store of convenience to gather supplies for our adventure. Let’s just make one thing clear, shopping with an 8-year-old is an adventure in and of it’s self. Some aisles, he didn’t want to go down because they were boring whereas others —- he didn’t want to leave. Especially the candy aisle, for good reason. Candy is delicious, but I digress.
With a successful trip to the store, we stopped by a local overpriced, commercial coffee shop for an afternoon pick-me-up and then headed home. The hardest part was waiting till Patton got off of work so we could “blow stuff up.” Now to be fair, we’re dealing with a kid and we’re smart… so to blow something up – we mean that very loosely. In simple terms: we combined diet soda and mint mentos and watched the bubbles rise, rather rapidly I might add. All and all, The Professor thought that it was completely awesome! Score points for us!
This brings us to the matter of dinner! It is known that boys of all ages LOVE pizza. It’s coded into their DNA. Since I already acquired the knowledge that pizza was what The Professor wanted for dinner I tossed the idea of making calzones. He didn’t know what they were, so we made both. Seriously, the only difference between a calzone and a pizza is a calzone is a pizza folded in half and sealed. Now, I know that it’s not truly that easy and thanks to the help of the internet we have a lovely little article differentiating the two, but for the purposes of an 8-year-old’s dinner, it works.
For every pizza, or calzone, it all starts with a quality crust. I’m a stickler when it comes to crust. It has to be relatively easy to assemble, rise nicely, have a good flavor and be able to hold up to a lot of toppings. It’s taken me a while to figure out the right ratio of ingredients and bake times and there are TONS of wonderful recipes out there already. This recipe is truly fool-proof and I am never buying pizza dough mixes or pre-made pizza crusts ever again!
This recipe truly is fool-proof. It’s a one bowl wonder and makes about 4 personal pizzas or 4 calzones or 2 large pizzas. The possibilities are endless on this one.
Just so you are aware – this crust isn’t one specifically for those “thin-type” crust pizza. You can spread it out fairly thin but it still has a good bit of chew to it. Also, for a random food side note: this dough re-heats in the microwave REALLY well!
Before sticking them in the oven I gave them a quick brushing of olive oil. Oh and if you’re making a calzone – don’t forget to cut a few slits in the top of the dough so that the steam can escape while it’s cooking.
This is a very light colored dough once it’s finished baking, if you wanted to give it a dark, caramel color – you can always use an egg-wash over it. I personally like the way it looks, but I’m also more about stuffing my face with it rather than feeding my eyes —- which is probably why I was a fan of green and purple ketchup when it came out in the early 2000s. I’m weird, don’t judge me.
Oh this pizza is so tasty and you can literally load it up with whatever topping or toppings you choose. The choice is yours, use it wisely… dun dun dahhhhhh!
All totaled this batch of pizza dough made 2 medium (13” inch) pizzas and two medium sized calzones. This is perfect for having to feed more than 6 people.
- 2 packets of Rapid Rise yeast
- 2 cups of warm water - straight from the tap
- 3 teaspoons of white sugar
- 3 teaspoons of dark brown sugar
- ½ cup of EVOO
- 5 cups of all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
- Dough - divided evenly.
- A good quality pizza sauce - we used the Butoni Marinara
- Shredded Cheese of all kinds (it's up to you, but we used mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesian)
- Toppings of your choice. We used bacon, ham, and pepperoni.
- Combine the water, sugar and yeast in a 4-6qt stand mixer. Let it proof for about 5 minutes until it gets nice and bubbly.
- Pour in the oil and turn the mixer on low until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
- Slowly add the flour and salt, one cup at a time.
- Turn your mixing speed to medium and let your mixer do the kneading work. Let it go until the dough gathers into a soft ball that pulls away from the sides. If it is still a little sticky, then add flour ½ a cup at a time until it becomes smooth and no longer sticky.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover with a dish cloth or Press & Seal and let it rise for 1.5 hours (or until doubled) in a warm, draft-free location.
- After it has had time to rise, gently turn it out of the bowl, divide into equal sections.
- This dough will last for about 2 days in the fridge, or about 2 months if tightly wrapped in the freezer.
- Preheat your oven to 375F
- Take your dough and roll/shape it out to your desired shape.
- Place the dough on a prepared pan (either with a layer of grease or by piece of parchment paper)
- Poke it with a fork (if making a pizza) all around, leaving about a ½ inch around the border for the crust to puff up nicely.
- Stick your dough in the oven for 5 minutes so that it can proof and pre-bake.
- Pull it out of the oven and top it with a nice layer of sauce, cheese, toppings and then more cheese.
- Stick it back in the oven to fully cook for 15-17 minutes, checking on it every so often to make sure that it's cooking nicely.
- Pull it out of the oven - don't burn yourself - let cool for about 5 minutes so your toppings don't go sliding off of the top when you take a bite and enjoy!
See you all later,