We as a world, and particularly as a nation, love our pizza. America alone eats about 350 slices of pizza every second. Despite our infatuation with the dish, pizza remains synonymous with delivery, take-out, or standard restaurant fare. This needs to change.

Over the past few years I’ve been experimenting with countless different pizza recipes, trying different crusts, sauces, and toppings. This article is a summation of all that I’ve learned and it’s a plea to get people to try the delicious pizzeria quality pies that can be made in college apartment kitchens.

Here are some of my core tips to making the perfect homemade pizza and some of my basic recipes for homemade dough and sauce.

Tip 1: Get that oven HOT. Crank up your oven to its highest temperature which is usually around 520 and cook your pizza on the lowest possible shelf position (ovens are hotter on the bottom).

Tip 2: Don’t spread too much sauce on your pizza. Use less of a stronger flavored sauce to prevent your pizza from becoming soggy.

Tip 3: Use bread flour to make the dough. Bread flour has a higher protein content than its all-purpose cousin and will therefore make a crispier crust.

Tip 4: Use un-shredded cheese and cut it yourself. Shredded cheese has anti-caking agents that don’t allow it to melt as well. Even better, use fresh mozzarella cheese for a truly pizzeria quality experience.

The Dough

  • Prep Time:15 minutes (with 1 hour for rising)
  • Cook Time:0 hours
  • Total Time:1 hour 15 minutes
  • Servings:4 pizzas
  • Easy

    Ingredients

  • 4 cup bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup very warm water
  • 1 envelope fast acting yeast
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil

Step 1

Stir together the yeast, water, and sugar and let sit for five minutes.

Step 2

Combine the flour, salt, olive oil, and yeast mixture in a large bowl.

Step 3

Mix the dough thoroughly and switch to your hands once the dough has started to come together. Knead this dough for about ten minutes, adding more flour if the dough seems too sticky (you might have to add up to a cup of additional flour). The dough should feel tacky but shouldn’t stick to your fingers.

Step 4

Let the dough rise in a lightly oiled bowl, covered, for at least 1 hour.

The Sauce

  • Prep Time:5 minutes
  • Cook Time:0 hours
  • Total Time:5 minutes
  • Servings:4 pizza's worth
  • Easy

    Ingredients

  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)

Step 1

Blend all the ingredients together with a food processor. You can manually mince all the ingredients and use crushed tomatoes if you don’t have a food processor.

The Final Assembly

  • Prep Time:5 minutes
  • Cook Time:15 minutes
  • Total Time:20 minutes
  • Servings:3
  • Medium

    Ingredients

  • 1/4 prepared pizza dough
  • 1/3 cup pizza sauce
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Step 1

Preheat the oven to the highest possible baking temperature.

Step 2

Flatten out the dough on a lightly floured surface using the heel of your hand. Press down in the center to keep a raised crust along the edges.  Flatten and stretch the dough with your hands until it is about 1/4 inch in thickness. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet. Make sure the dough is well floured enough to slide freely on the sheet.

Step 3

Spread the sauce on top of the pizza. Use a brush or your fingers to lightly oil the crust area.

Step 4

Put your toppings on the pizza.

Step 5

Bake for 12-17 minutes on the lowest shelf until the crust is very well browned and crispy.

Photo by Jay Park
Photo by Jay Park