Homemade pizza fills the house with such a fabulous blend of aromas and inspires such creativity that, before you know it, everyone will be in the kitchen suggesting toppings or jumping in to make their own. My fifteen-year-old son said to me today as we were assembling pizzas, “I love it when we make pizza. We always end up in the kitchen together.” See? You’re making more than pizza, here.

After you’ve made your sauce and your dough has doubled in size, it’s time to form the crust and assemble the pizza.

The very best way to form the crust is by stretching it with your hands. Some people try to use a rolling pin, but that just traps the air bubbles and stretches things in the wrong places, leaving you with a cattywampas, holey crust.

You can see a video of someone forming crust using the hand-stretched method here.

After you’ve shaped your crust, put it either on a pizza peel or a pizza pan sprinkled with cornmeal or a bit of flour. Then it’s time to top the pizza.

My personal favorites are the simplest ones. For me, I prefer leaving the sauce off of the crust, sprinkling the crust with generous amounts of sliced garlic, adding a bit of kosher salt, generously sprinkling the whole thing with chopped fresh basil, then drizzling melted butter over the whole thing. Sometimes, if I have fresh tomatoes, I’ll add slices of them, too. Top it with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and pop it in the oven. I have a pizza stone (five bucks at the thrift store!), so I heat the oven to about 500 degrees while mixing the dough so that the stone is thoroughly heated, and I place the whole pizza pan on the stone on the bottom rack of the oven and bake it until the toppings are bubbly and the crust is golden brown and crisp. If you have a pizza peel, use a quick jerking motion to transfer the pizza to the pizza stone and bake until it’s done, about fifteen minutes.

Take the pizza out, slide it off the pan or peel onto a cutting surface and let it rest about five mintues. Then use a sharp spatula or knife, using a rocking motion, to cut the pie. Rotary pizza cutters generally just drag your toppings across the pizza, so I don’t use one.

Using your deliciuos sauce, top the pizza or serve it on the side.

Of course, you can do things the traditional way, too, by smearing the sauce on the crust, topping with mozzarella, and adding your favorite toppings.

You can find more ideas for pizza toppings here.

We’ll explore some more pizza options tomorrow, including deep dish pizzas! Yum!

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