Do you remember the first pizza place in your community? The very first place I remember was a small place that located in an old mom and pop grocery store. When the pizza place opened there were only a couple tables. Most pizza was sold to take home and eat, but we stopped there after a basketball game or dance just to get some more socializing in before we had to get home.
This pizza place was a small family-owned business with the whole family behind the counter. The crust was homemade and fresh. We watched them throw the disks of dough while we waited. There were only a few toppings offered. We always ordered pepperoni and cheese, but you could also get sausage and mushrooms.
I think the pizzas must have been larger in those days. My friends and I never ordered more than one pizza. We each chipped in about three dollars and had pizza and pop. That small pizza place outgrew its original location in just a short time. By the time we were driving the pizza place was located in what had been a car dealership. Pizza was the favorite snack after every major event at school.
Although we think of pizza as an Italian food, my best friend whose mother was 100% Italian made pizza differently. When she made homemade rolls she made one pan of pizza. We loved to get to Margaret's house on the day her mother made rolls. Mrs. Thomas' pizza was just a crust with a swish of sauce, a few slices of pepperoni, and some oregano. Although it was good, if I had a choice I took a plain hard roll instead.
My first pizzas were made with dough from a box. I had no recipe so I depended on what I could find at the store. When my husband and I were dating I often made pizza on Wednesday night when he came to visit. He knew he did not need any supper that night because I would have something for him to eat.
Once we were married I found a good recipe for pizza dough. If I said we were having pizza for supper my kids always asked, "Is it round or square" They knew if I said it was square that I was making my own. They much preferred that kind. My crust recipe was from a friend. She always put cornmeal on the pan so that made a crispy crust.
Today pizza is a staple in school cafeterias. My son never bought his lunch until his fifth grade teacher shamed into buying pizza so that the whole class bought that day. I am not sure of the nutritional value because I never saw the list of ingredients. Just as with everything else, you have to read the label. If the ingredients are words that you cannot read, it can't be good for you.
I prefer to make my own pizza these days so that I can control the ingredients. I found a new crust recipe that I like even better than the old one. It is not one you whip up in a hurry, but it is delicious. I either bake it on my enamel pizza pan or if I want thicker crust I put it into my cast iron frying pans. Just putting this piece together makes me hungry for some homemade pizza.
If you are a regular reader, you know that I am never happy just taking a recipe and making it like it is. I like to tweak it to suit my own taste. That is the way it is with my crust recipe. No, this recipe is not in my cookbook. I found it after I had all of the recipes turned in to print.
As for toppings, I use a variety whatever I have on hand the day I make it. My granddaughter likes it with just cheese or with a white cheesy sauce. The grandsons like it any way I fix it. My personal favorite has banana peppers, cheese, and pepperoni, but I can eat it with mushrooms and olives, too. I have even tried my hand at dessert pizzas. Sweetened apples with a drizzle of frosting is very good if you need a quick dessert.
With Super Bowl weekend coming up I thought some of you might like to make homemade pizza so the recipe follows. Good luck with it. Do not try to rush it. That extra time pays off.
Homemade Pizza Crust
2 pkg. yeast or 2 T. yeast
2 T. sugar
2/3 c. warm water
2 c. cold water
3 T. corn or canola oil
1 tsp. salt
6 1/2 to 7 c. flour
Sprinkle yeast in warm water, then stir in sugar. Let set until bubbly.
Combine remaining ingredients adding only c. of flour. Beat until smooth. Add yeast, then rest of flour. Dough should be workable. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic. (This is my favorite part about making the homemade kind.) Put in a warm place and allow to raise until double in size (approximately 1 hour). Punch down. Using greased hands shape the dough for the pizza pan you want to use. This easily makes two large pizzas. Place dough on pans that have been spread with oil and dusted with cornmeal. Put toppings on. Let rise at least 20 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org