Homemade Pizza for the New Year

I am so happy a new year is upon us. 2014 was long and hard and exhausting, and I feel like the symbolic new chapter has begun!

To start the new year off the homemade way, the kids and I spent January 1st making pizza for dinner. My little family is still young, so I am looking for fun family traditions to start now that they will look forward to every year. I think our homemade pizza night will become one of those traditions!

Before we started, I called my sister Meghan for her pizza making tips.  She is such a good cook, and pizza is one of her specialties. Her advice:

1. Make homemade dough. She uses the recipe from the classic cookbook, The Joy of Cooking.

2. Freshly grate the cheese. Meghan said the pre-grated stuff from the grocery store just doesn’t melt as well or taste as good as a block of mozzarella shredded just before baking. She’s right.

3. Add fresh garlic. Yes!

4. Try different sauces. She said designated pizza sauces aren’t always the best.

With Meghan’s expertise leading us, the kids and I got to work. We made the dough and we grated the cheese using an attachment on our food processor. The kids loved stretching their own little balls of dough and “decorating” their individual crusts how they saw fit. What a fun New Year’s Day memory!

Our pizzas turned out great…but the new family tradition was my favorite part!

Homemade Pizza Dough (from The Joy of Cooking)

1 1/3 cups warm water

1 package active dry yeast

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar (I omitted this)

Combine in a large bowl and let stand until the yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes: water and yeast.

Add flour, olive oil, salt, and sugar.

Mix by hand for about 1 minute. Knead for about 5 minutes by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly coated with olive oil and turn it once to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Grease 2 baking sheets and dust with cornmeal.

Punch down the dough and divide it in half.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

One at a time, flatten each ball of dough on baking sheet into a 12-inch round. To prevent the filling from making the crust soggy, brush the top of the dough with olive oil. Use your fingertips to push dents in the surface of the dough, to prevent bubbling, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Top with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese and bake for 12 minutes or until the crust is browned and the cheese is golden.


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