When I was little, I rarely remember eating out. Mostly, my mom cooked dinner every night and we ate at home, or she packed food and we took it wherever we were going (a thermos of chili at the local ski "mountain" topped with crushed potato chips was particularly loved). We did have a few favorites: the Italian place that served fried dough instead of a bread basket (yum!); the taco place that ran a two for one special one night a week; and Steve's, the pizzeria down the road.
I'm not sure if it was the prizes in little plastic eggs that came from the old-fashioned machines in the back, the familiarity of the fake-wood booths and dim lighting, or the cheesy, meaty pies, but the pizza at Steve's has always been that by which I judge all others. Even after I moved to New York City as a college freshman, I never was able to match the perfection that came out of that tiny hole in the wall. For nostalgia sake, and to see if I had been right all these years, I dragged a friend on a road trip a couple of years back. The pizza was exactly as I thought remembered it. It was nostalgia-filled, crispy-crunchy goodness and I am so glad I went. Mostly because after that I was able to let go of my perfect pizza and finally enjoy, without reservation, all the other pizzas I had been disappointed by over the years.
Soon after that trip I began making my own pizza at home. As much as I don't love baking I actually really like working with dough. I like the physicality of kneading, I like the change in texture as you work in more flour, and I love, LOVE, punching the dough down after the first rising (I don't care about all the recipes that say the step is unnecessary--I love it). And with pizza, I love the toppings. Mushrooms and olives, potatoes, ramps, asparagus, goat cheese, blue cheese...as I experimented, slowly, the pizza I made at home surpassed in my mind the memories of pizzas gone--a good thing, to be sure.
I don't have a specific recipe for most of the pizza I make. I usually use the dough recipe found here:
*edited to add: I use half white whole wheat flour in this recipe.
In the picture above I used artichoke hearts, caramelized onions, and kalamata olives with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. Here's my general method:
Make dough. Roll it out thin. Heat oven to 500 degrees. Put dough on upside down jelly roll sheets. Top pizza. Let sit for 15-20 minutes (so it will be more of a cross between thin and thicker crust). Place in hot oven and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly and the crust edges are lightly brown. Slice and eat!