May we interest you in a party of the pizza variety?
Home Movies Tuesday!
Hello and welcome to Home Movies Tuesday! If you’ve found your way over by some miracle but are not yet subscribed, here, let me help you with that:
Hello from Not New York, where I’m out filming an episode of the forthcoming CNN program: (More Than) A Cooking Show with Alison Roman, which is my name. More juicy details about the show as well as premiere dates in the coming weeks, but just know you won’t have to wait very much longer and we are THRILLED to share it with you.
Due to a last minute lack of wifi in this specific location, I’m racking up a pretty ridiculous Verizon bill by typing this on my phone. So to save myself, I’m submitting my homework late and phoning it in by re-publishing the essay that ran with this recipe, originally published in Nothing Fancy way back in 2019. Does that make this vintage? Maybe.
Anyway, TLDR; my sister came to visit me recently and when we realized she’d overlap with a Home Movies I asked: what would you request for a Home Movie? She said “pizza, because you have a very good looking recipe in your book and make it look so easy but I’m afraid to make it.” ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE, CARLEIGH SHAE ROMAN.
Anyone who knows me knows how important pizza is to my soul, my personality, my body, my heart, my brain. Pizza is me, I am pizza. So, living in a place like New York, why would I go through the trouble of making my own when I have such good options literally everywhere? Well, that’s a great question and I’m glad you asked. First, this book isn’t for me, it’s for you. And I’m guessing that at least a few of you don’t live in New York but maybe want to have delicious pizza in your own home, without having to slide a frozen disc off a cardboard slab.
Second, even as someone who lives in a place with abundantly excellent options for ’za (nobody calls it that), I can say it is extremely fun to make your own. As I’m sure you can imagine, I am very picky when it comes to pizza and I have a lot of opinions (sauce ratio, texture and doneness of crust, toppings), so the idea that I just get to decide my own pizza destiny is—thrilling. Yes, I am a control freak.
That all said, I am not a pizzaiolo (surprising, I know!). I have not studied pizza making in Rome and I’ve never been to Naples. Not only is my oven not fueled by wood but also it barely fits a half-sheet pan. But am I going to let any of that get in the way of my making my friends what I would consider to be a very good pizza in the privacy of my own home? No. The recipe that follows for this particular kind of pizza, which I would classify as a grandma style of sorts, starts with a fluffy, oily, spongey dough (the same dough that gets you the focaccia on page 70) that turns into a crispy-edged crust and takes kindly to an array of toppings. I myself am an extreme traditionalist and think that a cheese or pepperoni pizza is the pinnacle of perfection, but if you have an avant garde pizza preference, then you do you.
Throwing a pizza party in your home will earn you a lot of new friends. Here are some tips to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Sheet Pan Pizza
For this grandma-style pizza, you’ll find a very basic sauce—canned tomatoes seasoned and briefly simmered with crushed garlic—plus a few options for how to top your pizza, which are, of course, just recommendations, and you should feel empowered to do as many or as little as you like. Regardless of combos, to achieve ultimate pizza success, always use less sauce, cheese, and toppings than you think (more is not more here; in fact, more will result in a heavy, doughy, soggy bottomed pie) and bake it longer than you think (crispy crust, both edges and center, is what we are after).
For the dough:
1(¼ ounce)packet instant dry yeast or 2¼ teaspoons
2 teaspoons honey
12 tablespoons olive oil, plus lots more for coating the bowl and pan
2¼ cups warm-ish water
5 cups bread flour (all-purpose flour will also do the trick here, although the dough might be slightly less elastic), plus more for the work surface
2 teaspoons kosher salt
For the sauce:
4 garlic cloves, smashed
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 28-ounce can whole peeled plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated or thinly sliced
8 ounces pepperoni, sopressata, coppa, or other spicy, cured meat 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
4 ounces basil
8 ounces arugula
4 ounces pepperoncini, chopped
2 ounce tin of anchovies
8 ounces parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Olive oil, for drizzling
Crushed red pepper flakes
Flaky sea salt
1. Whisk the yeast, honey, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and water in a large bowl. Add the flour and, using a wooden spoon, mix to casually blend (it will still be a craggy mess; that’s fine). Add the kosher salt and continue to mix until it goes from craggy to kind of wet and shaggy (the dough is going to be too wet and sticky to knead at this stage, so don’t worry about getting it nice and smooth yet). Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot until it doubles in size, about an hour or so.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, using the palm of one hand, press into the dough, turning and folding it onto itself (a.k.a. kneading) a few times (the dough will still be sticky but much more manageable) until it comes together and starts looking smooth and elastic. Feel free to dust with flour occasionally but not too much.
3. Once the dough is looking nice and smooth, drizzle a bit of olive oil into that same bowl to grease it up and put dough back. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot until it doubles in size again, another 45 to 60 minutes.
4. Combine the garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes in a medium pot over medium heat. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly less saucy than it was when you started, 15 to 20 minutes. Season again with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
5. Divide the risen focaccia dough in half so that you’ve got two pieces. Pour enough olive oil into two rimmed baking sheets to generously coat the entire sheet and, using your hands, spread it all around. Turn each piece of dough onto a baking sheet and, using your hands, coax the dough into a flat, even layer. (It doesn’t need to stretch to the exact size of the sheet pan; it’ll puff up and fill in as it proofs and bakes.)
6. Drizzle the top with lots more olive oil and lightly drape a piece of plastic over the dough for its final nap, letting it rest in the warmest part of the room for another 30 to 45 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
8. When you’re ready to bake, the dough will look light, puffy, and buoyant. To test this, use your fingertips to press the dough lightly. It should bounce back ever so slightly (if it sinks and deflates, you’ve over proofed the dough and it might never recover. But let’s not assume the worst— and even at its worst, you’ll still have something edible and you can call it flatbread). Using the tips of your fingers, lightly dimple the surface, kind of like you’re playing the piano.
9. To Top: Spoon just enough of the pizza sauce onto the dough to lightly coat. Scatter with the mozzarella, pepperoni slices, some onion, grated parmesan. Drizzle with olive oil, especially around the crust, and sprinkle with flaky salt.
10. Bake, until the crust is totally golden, bubbly and puffed, the cheese is melted and browning, and the pepperoni has filled with its own fiery orange fat (the best part of a pepperoni pizza!), 35 to 40 minutes.
11. Once the pizza is out of the oven, dust it with optional extras such as parmesan, chopped chillies or chile flakes and maybe some chopped fresh herbs, if you're wild about herbs (as I am). Let cool slightly before cutting and serving.
DO AHEAD: Tomato sauce can be made up to 5 days ahead and refridgerated, or up to 2 months ahead and frozen (but it'll take longer to defrost than it will to make in the first place).