Cheaper and healthier than take-out, homemade pizza serves as a quick weeknight dinner or fun weekend meal when it starts with pre-made dough. Pre-made pizza dough can be found at your local supermarket in cans in the dairy case or in the frozen foods section, while the bakery departments in some larger stores sell fresh pizza dough. Some pizza shops also sell their own fresh dough. You can top pizza dough with just about anything you please as long as you pre-cook those toppings that require longer cooking time than it takes for the dough to bake. Making pizza at home allows you to create a healthful, balanced, satisfying meal.
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Working with the Dough
Use the right baking equipment to achieve the type of crust you prefer. Use a baking stone for a thin crispy crust or a pizza pan for a crisp-bottomed, chewy crust. For deep-dish, Chicago-style pizza, use a round cake pan.
Prepare the pan by sprinkling its surface with cornmeal or brushing it with oil.
Remove the refrigerated dough from the package and press it onto the baking surface. Bakery or pizza shop dough tends to spring back a bit more than dough from a tube and may need some additional stretching to fit it onto the pan or stone.
Topping the Pizza
Cook raw meat toppings, such as chicken or lean sausage. Vegetables that are firm or release a lot of moisture, like peppers or onions, also benefit from pre-cooking. Lightly sauté them to retain some crunch and color or extend the cooking time for soft, caramelized results.
Shred, grate or crumble the cheese. Mozzarella, provolone, Monterey jack and Gruyere melt well and complement a variety of toppings. Should you select a strong-flavored cheese such as Parmesan, Romano, pecorino or feta, you won’t need to use as much, which cuts down on the dish's fat and calories.
Spread your favorite pizza sauce or spread onto the dough, including tomato sauce, pesto, tapenade, roasted garlic or simply a light brushing of olive oil.
Sprinkle the sauced dough evenly with the desired toppings. Apply the toppings lightly to avoid weighing down the crust.
Baking the Pizza
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for pizza dough from a tube or 450 degrees Fahrenheit for thawed, bakery or pizza shop dough.
Place the pizza in the lower third of the oven to promote crisping and browning, and bake it for 14 to 16 minutes for a 12-inch pizza or 10 to 12 minutes for individual 6-inch pizzas.
Remove the pizza from the oven when its edges are crisp and the cheese begins to blister and turn golden brown.
Let the pizza rest for a few minutes before diving in for neater slicing.