At least once a week my family has pizza for dinner.
It’s made from scratch, from the crust to the selection of toppings. And while October is National Pizza Month, most Fridays are Barto Pizza Day.
I come by pizza-making honestly. I am a first-generation American whose Italian mother made pizza because it was what she did. Along with the lasagna, noodles and desserts, most everything was homemade. Going out to dinner was a treat, and there wasn’t even pizza delivery in our small town in the 60s and 70s.
With a bit of tweaking over the years, I have perfected a simple recipe that allows me to make and freeze multiple pizza crusts.
A little messy, but worth it
Here is my unceremonious – and sometimes inexact – way to make pizza. I use a giant mixing bowl and a pizza stone. If you have a bread machine you could adjust the recipe to fit your machine and make the crusts fresh. I prefer to pull them out of the freezer and bake. The dough is the hardest part, and even then it’s not difficult. But manicured nails need not apply.
Dump a 5 lb. bag of flour into your giant bowl. For my family, this will make five pizza crusts – we like thick crusts. It might make more, depending on how thin and large you like your crusts.
In a saucepan – mine is 3 quart – put in three packets of your favorite rapid-rise yeast. Fill it with very warm water, and swish to dissolve. Once it’s dissolved, pour into giant bowl.
Mix into a large mass of dough. I use a wooden spoon that was my mother’s – no Italian household is complete without one. Use those arm muscles!
Once it’s fully mixed, separate the dough onto 5 cookie sheets. I use the ones I do because they are the size and shape of my pizza stone.
From there, mix the dough a bit more and shape it to the size of the pans. I usually sprinkle a bit more flour here to keep it from sticking. Once I’m done, I let it sit on my kitchen table for about an hour to rise. It’s also a good chance to clean up a bit.
After that hour, I put the pans directly in my freezers – the one above my fridge and the bigger upright I have in the garage. Leave some air underneath the pans so the bottom freezes. This will take tinkering to find just the right amount of time, but mine is usually a bit over two hours.
Once the dough is frozen, it will pop out of the pans when you give them a twist. I then put them on a piece of waxed paper, stack them in a plastic bag and stick them in the freezer.
When ready to bake, we preheat the stone for about 20 minutes…and now the fun part – toppings! We use a favorite jarred sauce from my husband’s hometown, but any thicker sauce will do. Shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese, maybe a few diced cherry tomatoes, green peppers – the only limit is what you enjoy. Bake for about 40 minutes in a 350o oven.
Passing it on
I am slowly having my daughters learn how to make the crusts, but for now they keep to the toppings. Either way, Barto Pizza Days are a good way to reconnect and make a delicious meal. The side benefit? A lovely aroma that reminds you of your favorite Italian kitchen.
It definitely reminds me of mine – my mother’s small, well-used and well-loved kitchen with wall-to-wall carpet and a rotary phone. It’s a kitchen my children still remember, filled with food, fun and the smell of something in the oven. Hopefully someday their children will remember my kitchen just as fondly – and maybe have their own memories of making pizza with the family.