Talk about a good home-y food memory: biting into the delicious homemade pizza my mom is nearly famous for whipping up. It fed countless groups of giggling high school friends before we returned to school to cheer away at a sporting event. And it continued to be a much-requested meal as I returned on breaks from college or later from my job two states over.
My favorite part? Hands down the crust. Perfectly crispy but not too crunchy. Thick and golden brown.
So of course when I brainstormed delicious but simple finger foods for Isaiah’s birthday bash on Wednesday night (he is now just one year shy of 3 decades!), pizza was the first thing that came to mind. Topped with veggies, beans, or meat it’s a filling meal or cut into little squares it’s a great party food. I’ve even divided the dough into 4 parts and made personal sized pizzas or into ping-pong sized balls for homemade pizza bites.
Even next to homemade monster cookies, German Chocolate Cake, homemade chips to dip in fresh summer salsa, and crispy veggies paired with black bean hummus with homemade tahini, the pizza was the first to go and a huge hit with our local guests who gathered on our patio to celebrate with Isaiah and wish him many more happy years. What a pleasant evening filled with the sounds of three languages, laughter, guitar, singing and friendships growing deeper.
Here’s how I remember the pizza recipe (possible variations from mom’s original):
Mom’s Pizza Crust Recipe
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon dry yeast (or 1 packet)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
3 cups flour
1. Combine warm water, sugar, and yeast in a bowl and let set until foamy, about 10 minutes. (Skip the waiting if using rapid rise yeast.)
2. Then stir in salt and oil.
3. Add flour a cup at a time. Knead to form a nice dough ball, about 2 minutes.
4. Cover and let raise until doubled, about 1 hour.
5. Punch down dough and stretch it out on your pizza pan.
6. Cover and let rest again until puffy, about 1 hour.
7. Spread on your favorite sauce and toppings and bake at 450F (230C) for 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese is starting to brown in spots.
Substitute whole wheat flour for half the flour in the recipe.
Waiting for the dough to raise is the hardest part! Help it out by keeping it in a warm (80F/27C) environment for both risings.
Freezer Tip: Bake just the crust for 8-10 minutes, then top like normal, cover and put the whole pizza in the freezer. When ready to eat, simply bake at 450F (230C) until golden brown.
Yum-my! It seems like I never tire of eating pizza. We’ve even tried it completely sans cheese and it’s just as good. What are your favorite topping combos? Anyone make their own pizza sauce? Maybe I can get Isaiah to share his sauce recipe someday! Any other warm, fuzzy birthday moments to share?