Pizza Sauce From Scratch Recipe

It’s tradition with me and Pizza, I have to quote Homer Simpson:

Mmmm, Pizza!  Ahhhh!

The thing about Pizza Sauce is that everyone can go to the store, buy a jar off the shelf, and make a pretty passable pizza if you have a decent crust and some good cheeses.

If you do go with the jars, the best one I ever found was a black and white (mainly) label from a company just two towns over from where I grew up.  Medford, NJ.   Some of the Italians moved out of Philly after the Second World War, settled in the pines in NJ and made some pizza sauce.

But.  It’s jarred, and therefore “not fresh”.

You can’t just use Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce either.  The spices are wrong.  I don’t know how to describe that other than to say that Pizza Sauce should be slightly sweet, thick, and not runny at all.   If the sauce is “hot” with a peppery burn, it’s done wrong – this is Italian cuisine and not Tex-Mex.  If it is not thicker than Spaghetti Sauce consistency, the water in the sauce will stop the crust from cooking properly.

Nobody likes a soggy bottom in a pizza.

The original recipe for a pizza was purported to be nothing more than sun dried tomatoes on a slab of dough with some mozzarella cheese on top, and then baked quickly in a very hot oven.  Get the bottom crispy.

That goes for Sicilian as well as Neapolitan pizzas.

So along with the quest for the perfect pizza crust, I’m looking for the perfect pizza sauce.  When I said the other day that I wanted to make a Pizza For The Weekend, I was told that my sauces weren’t up to snuff.  My response was simply:

“Find me a better recipe”.

This is Better.  It’s not Perfect.  But there is no such thing as a perfect pizza sauce unless you make the effort to make it yourself and really hone that sauce to what you want – because it is what YOU want.  Besides, my standards for “Perfect” are high.

Extremely and perhaps Obsessively high.

Never Mind All That, Here’s the recipe we have settled on:

Ingredients

  •     4 Teaspoons Olive oil
  •     1 Tablespoon Butter (optional or sub more olive oil if you’re being healthier)
  •     8 Cloves of Garlic, minced – going to roast it first next time
  •     3.5 Teaspoons Onion Powder
  •     1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  •     3 Teaspoon Fresh Basil,
  •     2 Teaspoon Fresh Oregano, chopped *1 Dried
  •     1 large can San Marzano Tomato’s crushed by hand
  •     1 small can Tomato Paste
  •     2/3 cup Fresh Parmesan Cheese, grated
  •     4 Teaspoons Brown Sugar
  •     1 Cup Warm Water
  •     Dash of fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter and heat until almost shimmering. 
  2. Add the garlic, stirring a few times around the pot and then quickly add the onion powder, red pepper flakes, basil and oregano. 
  3. Stir a few times and allow the herbs to bloom. 
  4. Add Parmesan Cheese, and brown sugar and then quickly dump in the tomato sauce, tomato paste and water. 
  5. Stir to combine and bring to a light boil. 
  6. Turn down to low, season to taste and allow to simmer for 1-2 hours for ultimate flavor or use immediately if needed. 

Oh, to make the pizza you see in the picture?  The pizza I called “The Second Best in South Florida”?

  • Use this stove top pizza crust recipe,
  • 7 ounces of this sauce, 
  • 6 ounces mixed cheeses, 
  • 1/2 a jar of mushroom pieces, 
  • and a couple slices of Ham – because I can
  • brown it in the oven broiler after it cooked in the skillet.
  • served two adult men comfortably.   About 400 calories each person.
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    Stove Top Pizza Definitely Is Worth A Try

    In my quest for making a pizza better than the run of the mill pizza shops that we have here, I have tried many recipes.

    Just search this blog for Pizza, I’ll wait.

    You see, all the bits and pieces are here but they’ve not quite come together yet.

    My oven also doesn’t have a proper pizza stone.  Oh, I’ve tried them a number of times, but they always shatter.  A Pizza Steel, a thick slab of steel over 1/4 inch thick heated to over 500F, will be tried when I find one.  But the oven barely makes it to 500 as it is.

    The hotter the oven, the better the pizza.  Proper Wood Fired ovens reach 800F.  Melting of Lead happens at 621F.  My oven?  Struggles to get past 450F.

    So I have tried different recipes.  The water in South Florida does something weird to my dough.  Or rather Pat’s Pizza Dough Recipe.  I’ve used it since around 1995 or so, and it makes an incredible bread.  Rolls, Pretzel Rolls, and Sesame Rolls are three of the things I use it for.  But the water here… not so good for pizza crusts.

    I have used filtered water and that helps get a crispy when toasted crust that I was looking for.  The next time someone comes down from the Philadelphia area, please come back with a gallon of local tap water?

    So I experiment.

    In this case, the experiment worked.  It’s made a better crust than I have made since I moved down here.  That Cracker Crisp crust that you want in a Thin Crust Pizza?  It’s definitely possible.

    Mind you, the recipe needs refinement.  As I list it below, the crust is a little underdone.  It probably needs 12 minutes in the second stage of baking – after you open the vents on your skillet.  It certainly could benefit from a quick couple minutes under the broiler to give you a nice layer of caramelization on top.   Cooking a Pizza in a skillet means that the toppings (Cheese, or otherwise) will be hot and gooey, but a different texture.

    If you do try this, you will understand.

    And do try this.  It went together in less time than it takes to cook a frozen pizza from the supermarket.  It took me 20 minutes from scratch ingredients to slicing it up.  That means that you have a very dangerous recipe here once you figure out all the wrinkles.

    If you are really observant, you’ll notice that the stove is still on in the above picture and set to “3” – Medium Low.  My stove has numbers from Low, 1 to 8, and High.  Medium is “5”.  Your stove may vary, but this is typical for an electric stove in the US.

    This recipe is adapted from the video below and a host of other references online. 

    But this is how I did it this past weekend:

    Stove Top Pizza

    Ingredients:

    • Crust
      • 1/2 cup Self-Rising Flour
      • 1/2 cup Plain Flour
      • 2/3 cup luke warm water
      • pinch of salt
      • 1 rounded teaspoon dried yeast
      • 1 teaspoon honey 
      • Olive Oil to grease the pan

    • Toppings – 
      • 4 ounces “Pizza Cheese” 
      • at least an ounce of Parmesan, (My Preference)
      • 10 fresh basil leaves split between the sauce and the top
      • 1/2 can of mushrooms 
      • 7 ounces of Pizza Sauce (give or take)

    Process:

    • Prepare the ingredients in a COLD and oiled skillet with heavy and seal-able lid.
    • The Skillet should be 12 inches or 28 CM.
    • Add all ingredients for the crust in the greased skillet until a slightly sticky dough is formed.
    • Spread the dough evenly on the bottom of the skillet to form your crust.
    • Add toppings to the pizza crust.
    • Turn on the burner to MEDIUM.
    • Place lid on the skillet and make sure vents are sealed.
    • Now that the burner has warmed up, place the skillet with the completed pizza on the burner.
    • Cook the pizza for 5 minutes with the vents sealed.
    • At the 5 minute mark, open the vents and cook the pizza for another 10 minutes at MEDIUM LOW
    • The pizza should easily separate from the skillet at this point with a spatula.
    • Check the bottom of the crust for your own personal preference of “toasted”, more time will be needed if it is not brown enough.

    The video that inspired me to make this pizza is missing some answers to some questions, but it is included below.

    How to Fail At Pizza Crust Without Really Trying

    I have a lot of recipes.  Many of them I share, some others I don’t.

    Oh come on, you know you hold back one or two of your favorites if you really like to cook or bake.  After all, how would you know what to bring to a party?

    My chocolate chip cookie recipe is one of those.  I’ll let you in on a secret though.  Churn your own butter.  It really makes the flavor pop!  Five minutes in the cuisinart later you have butter and buttermilk.  Make biscuits.

    But the thing is that nobody ever tells you of the failures.

    For every successful cook, there is a trash can full of fallen souffles, burnt biscuits, and wooden roasts.  Things that got undercooked, or overcooked.
    Things that got the wrong proportions.
    Things that went into the oven and the power went out.
    The yeast might have been bad.

    Any of those things!

    The recipes I share are tested.  I have done them more than once.  I don’t do them rushed.  I take pictures.  I marvel at the color of the crust, the flavor of the crumb, and the mouth feel of the flake.

    But I have done them before.

    Some of them I have done many times before.

    Many many.

    Really, that many.

    But I am on a quest.  The quest for the Grail?  No Monty, not the quest for the Grail, for Camelot is a very silly place.

    The quest is for the simplest recipes I can find for a given menu item.  They may take a little extra time or be quirky, but once I get it figured out, they’re golden.

    Fudge, for example, is dead simple.  Three ingredients for the basics, then toss in your goodies and you’re done.  It can even be done in the Microwave by a bright five year old as a treat for mommy.  Doesn’t even need daddy’s help, and may even be better without it.  You really just have to “warm up” the chocolate and stir it until smooth.

    My friends that are non-cooks or even anti-cooks are those who I find the simplest recipes for.  Cooking is one of those things that everyone, without fail, can learn, but they do have to at least try.

    I went onto a search.  A quest!  No, not for that damn Grail, Monty, go sit down in the corner.

    I was searching for “Three Ingredient Recipes”.  Those usually are the ones that you mash together with a fork in a big bowl and then toss in the oven at an appropriate temperature.

    Usually 350F.

    For about 30 minutes or until done.

    I found a lot of them.  Just go to your favorite search engine that doesn’t track what you are doing, type in “Three Ingredient Recipe” and find what you are looking for.

    At least that was the theory.

    I was planning on a two ingredient pizza crust.  It was easy they said.  A cup of Self Rising Flour and a cup of Greek Yogurt.  They warned it will be sticky and they warned to make sure you used the real Greek yogurt and not the crap that has corn starch to thicken it.

    I have everything on hand on a daily basis for that. 

    The whole weekend I was thinking about trying this.  Seriously.

    Ok, I don’t have a life.  So give me one, I’ll make failed pizza crusts for you, honest!

    Finally I decided it was time to do it that day.  I waited until it was time.  I even had someone here who wanted to watch.  “Drop In” friends will do that.  They will help you if you have a task to get done if you make a hint.

    So I got out the mixer. 
    Dough hook. 
    Self Rising Flour. 
    Proper Greek Yogurt that was one step removed from Cream Cheese.
    The dog got interested and joined us in the kitchen at this point.
    Turn the bloody mixer on.
    Get the parchment paper and line the cookie sheet while I’m watching the magic happen.
    Dust the cookie sheet liberally with flour so it doesn’t stick.

    They always tell you that when you make a pizza.  Pizza crusts tend to be drier than bread dough.  Put down a lot of flour and knead well.  It is like playing with clay, you have to work it.

    Blah blah blah, this is two ingredients, right?

    Finally I get bored with watching it spin and switch off the mixer.

    I end up with something that looked more like biscuit batter.  Thick and sticky.  I could use it to spackle a wall.

    No, really.  I have a hole in the wall I could have slapped this puppy into and it would have sat there on a vertical surface just drying out and …

    Pouring the batter out onto the flour I began to roll it out.

    That would be when I found the problems starting.

    It stuck to the paper so I added more flour.

    It stuck to the wooden rolling pin so I added more flour.

    It started making holes in the crust so I added more flour.

    At this point it was about a cup and a half of flour total.  This wasn’t right.  The parchment paper was turning into a wet sticky mess and fully bonded with the bottom of the pizza dough.

    After about 5 minutes more of this silliness, I got another piece of parchment paper and dusted it heavily with more self rising flour.  I was expecting, that, if I ever got this in the oven, it would burst open in a scene that I Love Lucy would have been proud of as the crust would fall out onto the floor and ask for asylum here in South Florida.

    Taking the dough and parchment paper, I flipped it on top of the new parchment paper.  A parchment paper sandwich now, I began to peel the dough off the older paper onto the new.

    I began to grumble at this thing.

    Cursing everyone from the Doughboy on the commercial to the inventor of commercial yeast, I started to pick at the sticky goo.

    Thirty minutes later, I was still picking.  I had peeled about a half of the dough off the paper and I simply gave up.

    You see, life is a learning process.  You win some, you lose some.  I’m sure you heard that before.

    In this case I probably should have simply added more flour to the mixer until I got to where I could work the dough.  At least that was what my baking skills told me.

    I didn’t.  I wadded up both layers of parchment paper, the glue like batter, and tossed it unceremoniously into the trash bin.

    With. A. Thump.

    We had Chicken Parmesan sandwiches instead.
    With Home Fries since they cook well with no fuss.

    I was beaten but not done.  I know I will have that pizza.  Just with my fool proof yeast risen dough.  After all, it is my sister Pat’s pizza dough, and I know that recipe like I know the back of my hand.

    All the way down to the piece of dried pizza dough that I found stuck to my fingers when I was eating that Chicken Parm Sandwich.

    Mmmm Chicken Parm on Home Made Rolls.

    Let me tell you the story of Pat’s Pizza Dough….

    Oil Free Pizza Dough and Pan Pizza Recipe

    I have a “go to” pizza dough recipe.  Pat’s Pizza Dough is a recipe that I have found in countless “other” places.  I’ve got the same recipe on files dating way back in my recipe box and on my directory on my computer.   I’m guessing that other people liked it too.

    It’s a standard Yeast Raised bread dough recipe.  I’ve made donuts, breads, bagels, and many other things from it.   It’s incredibly flexible.

    But there are times where you want to try something else. 

    It also has 2 tablespoons of oil in it.  Since I usually cook to a calorie count, those two tablespoons translate to 200 added calories.

    This recipe is a little lighter since there is no oil in it.  That allowed me to toss in some sausage for the pizza which means that I could indulge myself a bit.

    You can make this recipe by hand, in a stand mixer, or on the dough cycle in the bread machine.  I have done each of these and found it to work well no matter what.

    Ingredients:

    • 2C all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. dry active yeast
    • 3/4 C warm water – around 105F or 40C

    Process:

    • Add all ingredients except the flour to the mixing bowl and allow the Yeast to wake up by letting it sit for between 5 and 15 minutes.
    • Add your flour to the mixing bowl and mix well until smooth.
    • Kneed dough as you would any other and allow to rise until doubled.
    • For pizza, roll dough out before the rest period to allow for the crust to rise for a thicker crust.

    To prepare a pan pizza:

    • Grease the pan thoroughly.
    • Roll dough out to fit the pan and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil that has been coated with a liberal layer of corn meal.
    • Prepare pizza to taste with sauce, cheese, and toppings.
    • Allow dough to rise in place until you are happy with the thickness of the crust.
    • Place empty Pan in oven and preheat to 450F.
    • When Oven is at temperature, Slide prepared pizza into pan.  The way I did this was to remove the Now Hot! skillet from the oven and carefully drop that prepared pizza into the pan, then replace the lot in the hot oven.  Yep, takes a lot of care and skill.   Good luck!
    • Caution, you will probably burn your hand so be careful!  
    • If you’re worried, skip the pan and just go with a cookie sheet.  See Plan B!
    • Bake pizza for about 12 minutes before first check.  
    • Enjoy Pizza!  
    • Did I really have to tell you THAT?

      Plan B – For when you dropped the pizza on the floor when you burned your hand trying to get it in the hot pan:

      • Starting over – grease the pan thoroughly, or skip the pan and just use a cookie sheet lined with parchment and dusted liberally with corn meal.
      • Dust the pan with corn meal.
      • Roll the dough in the pan until you get it to cover the bottom of the pan.
      • Prepare the pizza to taste with sauce, cheese, and toppings.
      • Allow dough to rise in place until you are happy with the thickness of the crust.
      • Preheat the oven to 450F.
      • Place pan and pizza in the oven.
      • Bake Pizza for about 12 minutes before first check.
      • Enjoy Pizza!
      • I didn’t have to say that again, did I?

      David’s First Za – Recipe

      That’s what I get for reading Reddit.  Reddit gives you Ideas.  Ideas can be what you make of them.

      In this case, I made a “Za” and I liked it.

      Any group tends to have their own slang.   I got started reading the “Subreddits” on some of the food subjects.   Specifically, the Pizza Subreddit.

      Occasionally they have a recipe for crust, but I’ve got an excellent one that I’ve posted on here.  But reading onward, I got a laugh at their shorthand for “Pizza” – a “Za”.  In my own mind, it was cute and silly but I did tend to reserve it for something that wasn’t quite a pizza but was somehow.

      I got this bright idea one day when rooting around the refrigerator and came up with some oddball ingredients.  

      • 1 Six Inch Flour Tortilla
      • 1 Tablespoon (or so) of Pizza Sauce
      • 2 ounces of cheese – Combination of Feta, Parmesan, and Mozarella is what I used
      • Italian Seasoning spices to taste

      Now, mind you, this thing really is a Quesadilla.  The spices are “wrong” but I wasn’t going to have Mexican Food, I wanted Italian.

      To cook it, I turned the heat on the non stick skillet, put about a half teaspoon of olive oil on it, removed most of the oil with a paper towel to grease the pan, and set the heat for 4 and a Half – on a scale of 8 on the electric burners.   You want a medium or “low medium” heat since these things cook fast.

      When it warmed, I slid the concoction onto the skillet and warmed it until the bottom began to toast to a light golden brown.   It was still flexible so it slid easily onto a waiting dinner plate.  The Tortilla would cool and firm up to a cracker texture as it sat.

      While it was cooking, I made a second one.

      What happened was probably one of the better pizzas I have ever had, including the ones I make from my own thick crusts.  Prep time about 3 minutes including measuring everything on my kitchen gram scale.

      David had arrived a couple days back.  When we were riding back from the airport, he told me that wanted to go to a Chinese Buffet some time during the visit, to which I readily agreed.   We went the next day and all of us were stuffed like a sausage – over full and unable to move.

      Truly an episode of excess.

      But the next day we needed lunch.   We all skipped breakfast that day.   When I brought up food to David, he said that he wanted something small.

      I should make you a ‘Za’.
      What is a Za?
      Small pizza on a tortilla.
      A what?
      A tortilla – you know, those flat Mexican bread things…
      Go ahead, I’ll trust your judgment.

      David is British, even after living in Key West for 30 years.   Decidedly British.   That is a good thing but he doesn’t have too much experience cooking oddball things like that “Za” that I tried to describe.

      David, it is 300 calories, measured.  Each.   I have two and it’s a “rightsized” meal, although a little on the light side.

      He agreed since I said I was making one and he could try the first.

      Since the process is prepare one, start it cooking, and prepare the second, I started.  When the second is finished, the first can come off of the skillet – they only take about 3 minutes to cook and get the cheese just beginning to bubble.  You could do the cooking in a toaster, but the olive oil on the skillet adds a little flavor that you need.

      The first Za was cut into quarters and served while I went back to work with making the third and cooking the second one.

      I heard from the living room:  “Bill this is amazing!  It’s one of the best pizzas that I’ve had in a very long time!”.

      David liked it.  Quite a lot.  In fact he got up to watch me prepare the fourth one later.

      So the moral of the story is that you can be creative and play with your food.   Your British Friend may just like it!

      When Your Bread Doesn’t Rise… Make Pizza!

      I have a quest.

      The Perfect Pizza Crust.
      The Perfect Bread.

      Ok, I may be too impatient to get either, but I do get some pretty good results.

      Normally.

      Lately I’ve been looking online for an extremely basic recipe.   Four ingredients – Flour, Water, Yeast, and Salt.   Not even Sugar.   The simpler the recipe, the easier it will be to control the results.

      Or so the theory goes, right?

      The problem is that this recipe was billed as the “Super Sticky Dough”.  When I made it, it turned out more like Pancake Batter.  

      Make your dough, let it rise for up to 20 hours to allow the little critters – your Yeast, to create Carbon Dioxide and digest the natural sugars in the dough.   Then bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until done.

      Ok, did all that.   I still ended up with what Kevin called “The Splat”.

      So this will forever be the Splat Recipe, even after I figure it out.

      The pizza was tasty, but the dough was heavy and over “hydrated”.   Simply put, it was too wet.

      I tried it later with less water and it made a nice firm crust with a Foccacia bread texture.   Chewy and full of nice big holes. 

      So this recipe comes with an advisory – you may end up with a splat.  

      Here is the list of ingredients –  and I adjusted the water for you to get a Foccacia style loaf.   Reduce it more to around 1 to 1 1/4 cups to get a more firm dough.

      3 Cups High Gluten Flour
      1 1/2 cups warm (108F/40C) water
      1/2 teaspoon of yeast
      1 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

      • Mix everything together until smooth.  I suggest a stand mixer with a dough hook.
      • Place dough on parchment paper in a warm place like an oven with the door closed.  If you rise in a bowl, you will have a more traditional Boule, on a cookie sheet it will spread out because of the high Hydration levels.
      • Allow to rise for a long time – overnight.   I went for 20 hours.
      • Bake the next day at 375 for 20 to 30 minutes until golden.

      If you get a Splat, add pizza sauce, cheeses and other toppings.   Reduce the water and try again.