Sunday, February 12, 2012

Is it Possible to Make Artisan-Style Pizza in 5 Minutes?

Here comes an admission that I find pretty embarrassing: I regularly buy frozen pizzas.

We reserve such pizzas for crazy days like the one we'll have tomorrow. Mondays start bright and early at our house since we have to get ready for a visit from Sweetie Pie's speech therapist. That means I have to get all of us bathed and dressed (as well as vacuum up the graham cracker crumbs that mysteriously got ground into the living room carpet) by 8 AM. There is also a piano lesson for The Thinker and separate basketball practices for The Thinker and Mini Me. (Did I mention that basketball practice is a 45 minute drive from our home?) In between all the appointments, I manage to squeeze in homeschooling and laundry.

Frozen pizza just fits our schedule on days like that.

But what if it was possible to make homemade pizza in the same amount of time it would take to bake a frozen pizza? What if you could save money, cut out preservatives, and break yet another link to the processed food industry? Oh, and did I mention it would taste far better than frozen fare?

Enter the book Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day. After I read an article on this quick method of making homemade pizza in Mother Earth News, I decided to spend part of my February prepping budget on the book.

The method literally could not be easier. Mix up a four ingredient pizza dough, all from your food storage. Refrigerate. Use any time within 14 days.  The refrigeration actually improves the dough, making it easier to handle and giving it a bit of a sourdough flavor. Plus, you can make enough dough for eight+ pizzas at once, saving you time and dishes to wash!

Here's the recipe for a basic crust. This will make enough dough for four, 12-inch pizzas:

1-1/2 c. lukewarm water
1 T. yeast (instant or dry active - doesn't matter)
1 t. table salt
3-3/4 c. unbleached, all purpose flour (The authors of the book say the recipe won't turn out right if you use bleached flour.)

Add water to a large mixing bowl or other container. Add yeast and salt, stir. Add flour and mix until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic or a loose lid (you don't want it to be perfectly air tight). Allow to rise at room temperature for about two hours. Refrigerate for up to 14 days or use right away. The dough is easier to handle after it has been chilled.

This pizza is designed to be baked at high temperatures on a baking stone,which gives the crust its wonderful texture. You can also use a heavy duty baking sheet if you would prefer.

You can use canned pizza sauce if you like, or do what I did and make sauce ahead. I took 2-28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes and seasoned them with minced garlic, oregano, basil, and crushed red pepper. I simmered the mixture over low heat for two hours. I then measured out 1/3 c. portions (enough for one 12" pizza) and froze them individually. Now all I have to do is quickly defrost however many bags of sauce while I preheat my baking stone for 30 minutes at 550 degrees.

The crust is rolled out to 1/8th inch thick and is topped with about 1/3 c. of pizza sauce and whatever else you like. I used 1-1/2 oz. turkey pepperoni and 3 oz. fresh mozzarella.

The trickiest part of the process is baking the pizzas, or rather, transferring the crust and toppings to the baking stone without it sticking to your pizza peel (I don't have a peel so I used a baking sheet like this one.)

Turkey pepperoni and fresh mozzarella pizza

After about eight minutes in the oven, I became nervous about the pepperoni burning so I took the pizza out. That was a bit too early as the crust wasn't quite as crispy as it could be and the cheese should have browned more. I'll get all the ins and outs figured out with practice. Even so, the pizza tasted amazing! The kids snarfed it down so fast you would have thought they were in a competition. And would you believe that a 1/4 of this pizza is only 225 calories and 7 grams of fat?

This was so quick and easy to make, I think it is safe to say that we've kicked frozen pizza to the curb.

Here are some resources if you're interesting in trying this method out:


  1. I'm wondering if you could put them together and just freeze them? Then pull them out and bake just like store-bought frozen pizza?

  2. Anonymous - The authors of the book suggest four different ways you can use the freezer to speed things up a bit:
    1) After you make the dough, divide it into pizza-sized balls and freeze. They will last for 3 weeks in the freezer.
    2) Roll the dough out into 1/8th" rounds and freeze. Pull pizza rounds straight from freezer, top, and then you're ready to bake.
    3) Pre-bake the crust and then freeze. Prick the dough so it doesn't puff up too much.
    4) Freeze a completely baked pizza. Then you only need to reheat it.

    I'm considering option three. I'm not sure how well fresh mozzarella would hold up in the freezer.