Family pizza night is a weekend ritual at our house. As soon as we pull out the dough hook and pizza peel, the kids go running to find their pajamas and beanbag chairs. They know it’s the one night they’re allowed to eat dinner in the living room and stay up late watching family movies with mom and dad.
My husband is our dough man. He’s perfected the art of the perfect pizza crust. His recipe features a heavy dose of olive oil, which adds flavor, tenderness and the perfect crunch. He usually makes the dough in the morning and sticks it in the fridge for a slow rise time, which helps develop flavor. His recipe makes two generously large pizzas when rolled thin. We’ve found that rolling the dough to 1/8” thickness results in the perfect balance of crunchy, chewy crust.
We love J.K. Adams’ Lovely Rolling Pin, which features slight indentations on the edge of the pin to ensure the dough rolls to a perfect, even 1/8” thickness every time. Incidentally, the owners of Chicago’s Lovely Bake Shop developed these rolling pins. Their bakery is situated right down the street from our first apartment, so using this pin brings back some great memories for us.
Once the dough is rolled and ready, I’m charged with toppings. The kids go fairly traditional – typically they request some combination of red sauce, pepperoni, black olives, fresh spinach, and basil.
The choices for the “grown up” pizza vary based on seasonal ingredients and our imagination. For wintertime, we love a hearty white pizza topped with thinly sliced red potatoes, crispy bacon or crumbled sausage, garlic and fresh herbs. We’ve found the key to potato pizza is to prebake the potato slices until they’re soft and slightly dried. This prevents the pizza from getting soggy and allows the potatoes to get crispy and golden just as the cheese melts on the final pie.
After many years of trial-and-error, our pizza-making arsenal includes a few essential tools:
Winter is just beginning here in Chicago. Most weekends, you’ll find us cozied up with our kids making the most of it with a family pizza party.