Who knew? Halloween is one of the top pizza sales days and October is National Pizza Month in the United States.
According to statistics at pizza.com, a whopping 94 percent of Americans eat pizza regularly.
Not all of it is take-out or delivery. With pizza’s tremendous popularity, more and more people are experimenting with making it at home.
Eric Johnson, kitchen manager at The Mill House, a brick-oven pizza restaurant on Maxwell Avenue in Greenwood, said making dough from scratch can be done, but he said pre-made bakery dough or even frozen pizza crusts can yield good results, for those who want to save a little time.
“Making dough from scratch is not always easy to do,” Johnson said. “If you make it from scratch, you have to let it proof in a refrigerated place. If it has not sat in a cooler long enough, it might not be pliable and it won’t bake well.”
In a pinch, a can of refrigerated crescent roll dough, pressed into a rectangular baking sheet also works along with other pre-made doughs, just make sure to close all the perforations between the triangles of dough before baking.
“If you get bakery dough, ready to use, ask if you should use it straight from the refrigerator or let it come to room temperature first,” Johnson said.
Johnson said some of the most popular Mill House pizzas are those with classic ingredients, such as the Margherita and the Pauly’s Preferred.
The Mill House Margherita is made with a crust brushed with extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil, rosemary, mozzarella and Roma tomatoes. The Mill House Pauly’s Preferred is made with tomato and basil sauce, provolone, mozzarella and Italian-seasoned meats, including pepperoni, beef and sausage, plus bell peppers, onions and mushrooms.
“My number on toppings is three,” Johnson said. “I don’t like a big pile of toppings on my pizza. I like pepperoni and few meats, or a couple vegetables.”
Traditional pizza doesn’t have as many toppings as some American variations, Johnson said.
Other must-haves include sauce, toppings and either a pizza stone or some other kitchen tool on which to cook your crust.
If you use a pizza stone, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions. Many must be pre-heated to prevent cracking during cooking and some cannot be cleaned with soap.
No pizza stone? Roll out dough on a cookie sheet that has been coated with a teaspoon of olive oil, or a sprinkling of cornmeal, to prevent dough from sticking.
Few people are likely have a brick oven at home. A standard kitchen oven is capable of turning out tasty homemade pizza and some backyard grills are up for the task as well.
The key is cooking at a high enough temperature. Crank up the heat to 500 degrees F, or higher if your oven allows. Cook pizza on the middle rack. Cooking will likely take less than 10 minutes.
Canned, crushed tomatoes, or tomato concentrate make an easy sauce base, Johnson said.
“You can add your own seasoning to it,” Johnson said. “There are also some commercial brands with seasoning in them that taste good.”