Friday, June 15, 2012

Frugal Friday Tip: Homemade Pizza

My parents have a thing for pizza.  Every Friday night at about 5:00 my dad calls to order it, then leaves the house to pick it up around 5:20.  You could set your watch by it.  Normally it's a large cheese pizza, plain and simple, two if my brother or Shelle and I are home visiting.  On special occasions, maybe they'll get pepperoni or sausage or green peppers and olives.  If they're really living it up, they'll get chicken wings too.

Now my parents probably spend between 10 and 20 dollars a week on pizza alone.  Even if it's only $10, that's still over a solid $500 per year they spend on pizza.  As a broke gal, that's sometimes more money than I can comprehend.

I was raised on Friday pizza, and it isn't something so easy to give up.  But Shelle and I don't have the $500 a year to shell out, so we've had to get a little creative.  We started buying pre-made pizza dough at the grocery store for about $2, and that certainly helped to cut our costs.  But now we've done it one better - homemade pizza dough, from scratch.

It's a pretty easy recipe, even though I was initially frightened by the yeast.  The idea of knowingly and willingly throwing a live bacteria-like substance into my food scared me off a little, but I bit the bullet and boy, was it worth it.  This dough is super easy to make, and it freezes really well.  When I know I'm going to be around all day, I tend to make a few batches at once and toss them in the freezer so we'll have dough ready to pull out whenever we have a craving for Friday pizza.  Just put the dough in the fridge in the morning or on the counter a few hours before you plan to eat, and you'll be good to go!

To make the dough, dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar into 1 1/2 cups of water.  The water should be just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so it should feel warm to the touch but not hot.  Once the sugar is dissolved, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast onto the water.  Let it sit for ten or fifteen minutes until it's all foamy on top of the water.  Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and stir.

Now add 3 cups of all-purpose flour one at a time, and stir well between each addition.  Use an additional 1/2 cup of flour to dust your kneading surface (I like to knead on a cookie sheet - much easier clean-up!), and put the dough onto the surface.  Knead for about five minutes or until most of the flour is worked in and the dough forms a smooth ball.  Put the ball of dough into a bowl well-greased with olive oil, and then cover it with a clean towel.  Leave it for about an hour, or until it's doubled in size.

After the dough has risen, punch it down and form it back into a ball.  At this point, I normally divide the batch in half and have enough dough to make two 12-inch pizzas, but if you like a thicker crust or are planning to use a bigger pan, you may want to leave the dough all together.  Form the dough into log shapes and place them on a floured cookie sheet.  Cover with a clean towel and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Now you're ready to make your pizza.  Roll your dough out however you'd like - Shelle tends to use a rolling pin, and I like to pull and stretch until it's about the right size for the pan.  If you're feeling particularly adventurous, toss it around a little and take a minute to revel in your awesomeness.  Dress and decorate your pizza however you'd like, and you're good to go!  And all for way cheaper than ordering out every week!

I'll have to teach you a thing or two, Mom and Dad!

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