When I moved to northwestern Pennsylvania in 2010 I was introduced to a new tradition: Saturday night pizza. Now, to be clear, eating pizza was not a new concept to me! Growing up in a third generation Italian family, I grew up eating pizza at least once a week, and often on weekends. We frequented our local pizza shops or customized store bought pizza crusts to create our own varieties. During the years of “Book-It,” we made a monthly trip to Pizza Hut with friends for our personal pan pizzas. While my family certainly did enjoy pizza, we never nailed down the art of the homemade pizza. Maybe it’s because we never designated a night of the week to do so.
When I got married in 2015 I embraced the new tradition and began perfecting my homemade pizza recipe. I quickly discovered that making homemade pizza on Saturday night is a brilliant idea for the home cook! After a busy week and an unpredictable Saturday, pizza is a welcome addition to the Saturday night routine. Weekend guests are never disappointed with homemade pizza and the menu works well year round. On hot summer nights when I don’t want to start the oven, we throw our pizzas on the grill. For toppings, I add whatever leftovers or fresh vegetables are in season.
There is so much room for variety and creativity with pizza. I love “talking shop” with other Saturday night pizza lovers. Within my circle of friends, no two pizzas are alike: each with our favorite recipes for crust, pans, sauces (homemade or store bought!), toppings, oven temperature, or favorite side dishes.
My go-to pizza crust recipe was passed down to me from my mom, and after six years of Saturday night pizza making, the dough comes together quickly and easily for me. I hardly need my mom’s well-worn recipe card.
This dough is very soft and after rising can easily be pushed out to the edges of the pan to form the crust. I never use my rolling pin. I have found perforated pizza pans to be my favorite way to ensure a finished crust timed perfectly with melted cheese on top.
- 1 Tbsp. dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. oil
- 2 ½ cup flour
In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water (5 minutes). Add the salt, oil, and flour. Stir until dough forms a ball, adding more flour if the dough is way too sticky (dough can be a little sticky on the bottom of the bowl). Flour your hands and the ball so you can pick it up. Place in an oiled bowl and rise 15-20 minutes in a warm spot, covered.
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Butter or spray pizza pan and push the dough out with fingers.
My favorite sauce is Don Pepino Pizza Sauce, and I usually spread half a can on my pizza, leaving the other half for the following week. I can’t always find this pizza sauce at my local grocery stores, and I have been known to buy a case on Amazon to make sure I always have it on hand!
While I stay pretty consistent with my crust and sauce, the cheese and toppings are where I like to switch things up! Mozzarella is, of course, a traditional favorite, and I have found that buying a block of mozzarella and shredding it myself, gives my pizza a fresher, more authentic flavor. In addition to mozzarella, I like to add some sharp cheddar, parmesan, or Monterey jack for added dimension and flavor. At September Farm, our Monterey jack cheeses are very similar to a mild mozzarella and can easily be substituted for mozzarella on pizza. They melt beautifully and are packed with farm-fresh flavor. For a more traditional cheese pizza, try Honey Brook Jack. Our flavored Monterey jack cheeses such as Garlic & Basil Jack, Joy’s Tomato Basil Jack, or Pizza Jack incorporate flavors that lend themselves perfectly to pizza!
By the end of the week, I usually have vegetables in the crisper that need to be used, or small amounts of deli meat to add to the tops of my pizza. Fresh herbs, bbq chicken, or even taco meat bring creativity and diversity to the Saturday night pizza tradition. Once the pizza is loaded up, I sprinkle a little garlic powder on top and pop it in the oven for about 10 minutes.
The pizza comes out hot and bubbly and I carefully slide it on a large wooden cutting board to help cool it off enough to slice and eat comfortably with our hands. Add a veggie plate, a bag of chips, or a fresh side salad, and your Saturday night is complete!