pizza, revisited

Just when I thought there was nothing more to write about pizza, it seems the story continues. Too often, food writers talk about cooking in definitives. The problem with that is life isn’t one-size-fits-all. Pizza is a perfect example. My approach has evolved significantly in the 20+ years that I’ve been making it. My first foray into making pizza from scratch was baking it in a round, metal pan. Then I branched out to a pizza stone, but would shape the dough on parchment paper and slide it into the oven off the metal sheet, removing the parchment after the crust had “set”. Embracing a pizza peel took a bit longer. Confidence trumps skills in this department. It takes  a quick flick of the wrist for it to slide effortlessly from the peel to the stone.

I took my time, and did it on my terms, never judging or comparing myself to how other people were doing it. This is pretty much how I’ve handled most situations in my life. The only rules I play by are the ones with which I feel comfortable. So, when it comes to cooking, don’t forget you’re the boss in your own kitchen.

To me, it makes more sense to first become comfortable with cooking from scratch, and find a good workflow or routine, before trying to up the ante. Once you have that confidence, you can stretch your wings a little more. My new approach to pizza is a good example. There’s nothing revolutionary about it. In all truth, the difference is subtle, yet sublime.

The idea to mix up my pizza routine came to me during my daily pita making sessions last week. I’ve yet to share that recipe. The base for the pita starts by making a sponge. This little extra step adds a lightness to the crust. I also tweaked my cooking method, which ensures a crisp crust, while maintaining a soft, chewy texture.

So, what is a sponge? When you set out to make the dough, you begin by mixing the yeast, sugar, water and some of the flour. It all gets stirred together in a bowl, then sits until it puffs up (think of how a dry sponge expands when it comes in contact with water). This extra step only adds 15 to 20 minutes of time, and not even active time at that. Once the sponge is ready, I proceed with my dough recipe as usual.

The other adjustment I’ve made is with the placement of the stone in the oven. Rather than bake my pizza on the center rack, I remove all but the bottom rack. The stone gets hotter this way, and manages to crisp the crust evenly from the edge to the center.

One thing I should mention, though, and hopefully this will encourage more of you to finally see the light in the volume vs. weight debate for measuring ingredients. My recipe below is written in metric measurements primarily. This is how I cook normally at home, when I’m not in recipe development mode. It is so freeing to not fret with cups and spoons. If you don’t believe me in this, then listen to veteran baker Alice Medrich.

Oh, and one more thing I’ve been meaning to share. Guess what this month signals? Homemade with Love turns one! I’ve had the great privilege to be a part of your homes since its release. Seeing photos of my recipes come to life in your kitchens this past year has been a joy. I’d love to know how Homemade with Love has changed your relationship to cooking.

Has it made it less intimidating for you? Has it sparked an interest in cooking with your kids? Are there recipes that have become an absolute must-make in your family? I want to invite you all to share photos of what you’ve cooked from the book on Pinterest and Instagram for a chance to win a few fun giveaways. I’ve got some goodies I’ve brought back from my trips to Paris (Fleur de sel, Belgian chocolates), a few of my favorite cooking tools (chef’s tweezers, the best paring knife ever), and a Sur La Table gift card. The giveaway winners will be chosen at random beginning March 24th, so you have time to think about what you’d like to cook. Just be sure to tag me in your photos (@jenniferperillo) and include #injennieskitchen too, so I can find them easily.

Hope you all enjoy this new foray into pizza making. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone cooks up, too.

For more ideas and recipes on homemade pizza, take a look at what my fellow Comfort Food Feast friends are sharing this week on the FN Dish Blog.
The Heritage Cook: Gluten-Free Pizza Crust and Homemade Pizza Sauce

Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Easy Turkey Taco Pizza

Devour: Top 5 Pizzas Without Sauce

Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

Weelicious: Pizza Balls

Dishin & Dishes: Iron Skillet Chicken Pesto Pizza

Napa Farmhouse 1885: Pizza with Sun-Dried Tomato, Red Pepper and Corn

Red or Green: Pizza with Green Chile, Chicken and Cheese (Gluten-Free)

Virtually Homemade: Individual Cheese Quesadilla Pizzas

Domesticate Me: Grilled Pita Pizza with Prosciutto, Chanterelles, Arugula and a Fried Egg

Food for 7 Stages of Life: No Yeast Pizza Dough
The Blue Apron Blog: Our Favorite Pizza Toppings

The Sensitive Epicure: Mini Deep Dish Polenta Pizzas (Gluten-Free)

FN Dish: Homemade Pizza Comfort by the Slice

Jennie's Pizza Dough

6 grams active dry yeast

5 grams granulated natural cane sugar

360 grams Antimo Caputo “00” Pizzeria Flour, or bread flour, plus more for shaping

1 cup (237 ml) warm water

6 grams fine sea salt

1 tablespoon (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil

Add the yeast, sugar, and 70 grams of flour to a deep bowl. Pour in the water, and whisk well to combine. Set the bowl, uncovered, in a warm spot until the water absorbs the flour and the mixture puffs up, 15 to 20 minutes.

Add 220 grams of flour to the bowl, along with the salt and oil. Using a wooden spoon, stir until the flour is mixed in completely. The dough will be rather wet and sticky. Sprinkle a little bit of the remaining flour onto a board or countertop. Scrape the dough onto the board. Sprinkle a little bit more flour on top. Gently knead the dough until it’s smooth, and no longer sticky, adding more flour, a bit at a time, as needed (you may not need all of the remaining flour).

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and set it in a warm spot until it has doubled in volume (about 1 1/2 hours).  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gently press it down to deflate. Divide the dough in half. Place each half in its own lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside until doubled in volume again. This second rise happens much faster, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, adjust the rack in your oven to its lowest position. Place the pizza stone on top, and turn the oven on to 500F (260C). Make sure to do this step as you start the second rise, so the oven has enough time to get nice and hot.

Take one ball of dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured wooden or metal peel. Press or stretch the dough out into a 12-inch (22 cm) circle , whatever method you prefer (I start by pressing from the center, then switch to stretching).

Top with your desired ingredients (marinara sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, vegetables). Slide the pizza onto the stone, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly, if using, and the crust is very lightly golden. Repeat with the remaining ball of dough.


  • Julia

    Hi Jennie! I found your blog several months ago and asked for and received your lovely cookbook for Christmas. I love reading your blog and your cookbook. It’s funny that you posted a tweak about your pizza dough recipe today because Homemade with Love inspired me to attempt to make pizza dough from scratch for the first time. I’ve now made it twice and it is simply divine! Because I’ve fallen in love with that pizza dough, I’m debating whether to change it up so soon and try your updated recipe tonight (pizza & puzzle night!). I am a busy working mother of two young boys so although I do try to cook a lot at home it can be difficult for me to find time to make everything from scratch. The pizza dough is worth it though and fairly easy – as long as I can get home to start the dough early enough!

    Last weekend, I also made cupcakes and the frostings from Homemade with Love (vanilla cupcakes, vanilla frosting, devil’s food cupcakes and chocolate ganache frosting) for my son’s birthday party. They came out perfectly (even without using a scale) and were so yummy! I am considering buying a scale and a pizza peel. You are so right that getting the pizza from the back of a cookie sheet (or pizza peel) is all about confidence. The first time I tried, it didn’t work so well. The second time, however, I was able to successfully flick it onto the stone. (You wouldn’t believe how proud of myself I was for accomplishing that!)

    I even took the time to make a batch of your all purpose baking mix last weekend while I was making your pancakes. (The pancakes were great but my husband joked that using melted butter is cheating! I loved the smell of vanilla that wafted up from the pancakes while they cooked.) I’ll reap the benefit of making that mix ahead of time this weekend and will likely make a larger batch next time so I can try some of your other recipes that use the mix.

    This is a longer post than I expected to write, but I wanted you to know that I have really enjoyed Homemade with Love and plan to work my way through a lot of the recipes and employ some more of your tricks! It has inspired me to go the extra mile and make more things from scratch. Please know that your readers are out here (I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area), we’re cheering you and your girls on, and wishing you much success and happiness in life and love.

  • Kim

    Hi Jennie
    I have not made your dough yet but am anxious to try I love trying pizza doughs since its my favorite comfort food. Where would I go to get one of your cookbooks?

    JP’s Note: There’s a link in the right sidebar (column) of the homepage with the cookbook cover. If you clink on that, a window will pop open with all the places you can order Homemade with Love online. Thanks for asking!

  • R

    How to convert the metrics to cups and spoons? Or weights? You have a mix of measurements that is quite confusing.

    JP’s Note: The recipe is written in metrics (weights), hence the grams noted for the dry ingredients.

  • Leticia

    Hello Jennie,

    Can anyone participate in the giveaway or is it US only?

    Thank you. xxx

    JP’s note: Hi Leticia. It’s open to everyone, worldwide. 🙂

  • sharon

    Hi Jennie,

    Why the switch to the “00” flour do you use that exclusively now for pizza?

    JP’s Note: my pizza recipe will work with bread flour, and regular all-purpose—they’re an even swap in measurements (my pizza dough recipes have been tested with both). To answer your question Sharon, when I’m cooking for my family and friends, yes, I always use “00” flour for my pizza.

  • Marisa

    Hi Jenny
    I literally found your blog last night by chance while searching for recipe inspiration….and bam(!) felt that instant connection with your writings and beautiful recipes! Needless to say, I went straight to Amazon and bought your cookbook!! The little bit I got to unearth of your personal life touched my heart and warmed my soul. Thank you! You have another fan from the San Francisco Bay Area! Cheers and many blessings.

  • sharon

    Thank you !! I had just perfected your pizza recipe it comes out great every single time. I will try it with the “00” flour though.

  • Julie @ Texan New Yorker

    Hi Jennie! I love your book, and I cook from it often; love the contest idea, so I just updated all my Pinterest pictures so you can find them. Thanks!

    As for pizza dough – I will cook/bake just about anything from scratch, but I never make my own pizza dough. There’s an authentic NY pizzeria down the street from me and they will sell you their unbaked dough. And it is sublime. It’s completely enabled me to be lazy in this regard, especially since they make those enormous NY pizzas, so 1 box of dough gets me 2 regular thin crust pizzas, or 1 deep dish or calzone at home – for $3! What can you do….

  • Eileen

    Love reading about your journeys in food! My first experience with pizza was mom making it from a recipe an italian lady gave her when we lived in the same apartment building in california in early 50’s. It called for a pie dough crust and was delicious. years later I’ve had fun making my own crust from various recipes collected over the years. Will have to try yours. Have been tempted to buy a pizza peel, but needing to downsize, so can’t see that happening! Thanks for all you share–recipes and your life

  • My Menu Plan | WhatWouldGwynethDo

    […] Friday – Homemade pizza. Please tell me you are making your own homemade pizza now, right? It is impossibly easy and puts any other kind of pizza to absolute shame (except maybe a good, authentic Brooklyn slice…or a night out at Mozza…) and adds a nice personal touch to a Friday night favorite. Jennie’s is our go-to recipe. You can find it here. […]