Thursday, July 18, 2013

Homemade pizza margherita

  I've wanted to make a classic pizza margherita from scratch for a long time. I don't have an Italian nonna (or know any) so I turned to the Internet and the back of a package of pizza yeast for recipe inspiration. Things were going swimmingly and my kitchen smelled like heaven, until I needed to lift my pizza into the oven. I couldn't - not with my hands, not with a pair of spatulas, not by sliding a baking sheet underneath, not by throwing every curse word I know at it. 

Finally I just scooped it up into one big blob and unceremoniously dumped it on a baking sheet. A few lessons learned if you try this at home: 1) Don't roll out the dough too thinly. 2) Shape your pizza dough directly onto a baking sheet or pizza stone that can go in the oven, then add your toppings. If you don't do this, then make sure your surface is very generously floured. 3) Another option is to bake the dough on its own for a couple of minutes to harden before adding the toppings, and finish baking. 

If you have advice based on your own experience, I'd love to hear it! I took a photo post-baking, just for the heck of it. For what it's worth, it tasted AMAZING. Commercial pizza just doesn't compare!


I adapted this recipe to make the pizza sauce. My adaptations included adding anchovies and red wine, and substituting some of the dried herbs. In a large skillet, melt 2T olive oil and 1T butter over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup diced onion, 1/4 cup diced celery, and two cloves of minced garlic. Sauté for several minutes, until translucent. Stir in 1 tin of tomato paste and an 8-oz can of tomatoes (I used whole San Marzano ones and broke them up using a wooden spoon). Add a generous splash of red wine, 3 anchovies, 2T grated Parmigano-Reggiano, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp ground star anise, 1/2 tsp dried tarragon, 1/2 tsp celery salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and 1 bay leaf. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 30-60 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, prepare the dough.

I followed the instructions on the side of my jar of Freischmann's pizza yeast to make the dough. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2-1/4 tsp yeast, 1-1/2 tsp sugar and 3/4 tsp salt. Add 2/3 cup very warm water and 3T oil. Mix until well-blended, about 1 min. Add enough all-purpose flour to make a soft dough (3/4 to 1-1/4 cups). The dough should form a ball and be slightly sticky. Knead on a floured surface adding additional flour if needed, until smooth and elastic; about 4 mins. Pat dough with floured hands to fill greased pizza pan or roll dough onto a floured counter. The recipe says this makes 1 regular 12" crust or 2 thin crust pizzas but I think one regular crust is a better bet.


Spread the sauce over the dough. Layer sliced tomatoes, sliced bocconcini (I used mini bocconcini) and whole basil leaves. Drizzle with reduced balsamic. Bake at 425 until cheese is starting to brown.
{Fresh basil we grew ourselves!}

{I took a photo just for the heck of it!}


  1. i had to laugh at the dough not cooperating, stuff like that happens all the time to me when i cook! I haven't made pizza from scratch before and this post inspired me to try it!

    Em K

    Win $100 from Manitobah!

  2. YUM. Your sauce looks magical, and I bet it tastes phenomenal! I make my sauce with red wine too, but anchovies! Well now, I gots to add that in!

  3. Yummy! That looks so good. I've been wanting to make one of these for awhile as well. I need to just do it.

    Jillian -

  4. oh i LOVE pizza margherita! it's one of my faves to order out. my guy makes homemade pizza about once a week. i don't know the recipe, but he doesn't even have to wait for the dough to rise before he bakes it. i should ask him when he's awake what it is. yes, he specifically takes his camera with him when he goes for nature excursions like bike rides, hikes, or if he sees something in our yard he wants to take pics of. :)

  5. Oh, poor you and your poor pizza! I would be lying if I said the exact same thing hadn't happened to me before... I guess that's just what happens to those of us who want to cook Italian food but don't have any Italians to learn it from. In spite of the fact that it got a bit squished, it does look delicious :)
    PS: My article for Framework Magazine is available online, you can find it here:


I genuinely enjoy reading everyone's comments. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!