Family Pizza Night

Monday night is often pizza night in our house, with three ravenous kids, one hungry hungry husband, and my carb addiction, this pizza is the perfect size. Also my kids hate lunch meats (even fried bologna, who doesn’t love that?), the leftovers are the perfect thing to fill lunch boxes for the next couple of days. This pizza will also make your house smell amazing from the dough rising to the quick pizza sauce. Even though it’s not take out pizza, and I don’t have a wood fired oven,  for homemade pizza it comes darn close.

For this recipe I am using fresh yeast, or cake yeast, in fact I prefer using fresh yeast when I can find it, but usually that means a trip to a specialty store. But thanks to my smart friend, Michelle, she let me know that you can just ask for it at the bakery at Sobey’s, and they will sell you a block. Fresh yeast works similarly to dry yeast, but isn’t as stable and expires much faster. However the taste and texture of your final product is so worth it I bet you won’t ever switch back. In fact you can replace dry yeast for fresh yeast in most recipes, just make sure you convert the amount. Because it isn’t dried and compressed you will use about three times the amount of fresh yeast in comparison to dry yeast. If you want to be precise, there are some great yeast calculators online. For this recipe you will use 21 grams of fresh yeast. Fill the bowl of your stand mixer with warm water, sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over the water and then crumble the fresh yeast over top. Leave it about 5 minutes to start getting foamy.


While you are activating the yeast you can get the rest of the dough ingredients ready to add. In a large bowl, combine the bread flour and salt, stirring to combine. You can do this recipe with all purpose flour, it’s still delicious, but the dough will be just a little softer. You also need to measure out 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and set aside to add to the dough.


For this pizza dough it is actually going to rise right on a 18 X 13 inch baking tray instead of in a greased bowl. Take 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and spread it evenly over the baking sheet and set to the side while the dough is prepared.  Apologies about my sad looking tray, but I promise it’s been well loved.


Now that the yeast has started to foam add the olive oil and half of the flour mixture. Place the paddle attachment on the stand mixer, and with it on low, slowly mix half the flour into the yeast mixture. Also you may notice I’ve used my special occasion salt for this recipe and it is very much worth it.


Once the oil and half the flour has been mixed in, switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook.


Now add the remaining flour to the mixture and knead together on low until all the flour is incorporated. You may have to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. In the first picture, this is half the flour added, you can see it is still sticking to the bowl and will probably need all the remaining flour, if it isn’t sticking as much to the bowl you may want to add the last half of the flour in two additions. The second picture shows the dough no longer sticking and ready to knead. Turn the mixer up to medium and knead the dough for about 5 minutes, this will help the gluten develop and give structure to the bread. You can see the difference kneading makes between picture 2 and 3.


Once the dough has been kneaded it is ready to rise on the greased baking sheet. Start by shaping the dough into a rectangle then place it on top of the prepared baking tray.

IMG_3280Using your hands, gently smooth and stretch the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Don’t try and cover the whole tray that happens after the rise. Just gently coach it into the shape you want it to be, rectangle-ish,  until it is about 1″ thickness.


Turn the dough over to make sure both sides are generously coated in olive oil.  Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and leave it to rise in a warm spot for 2 -3 hours. (I’ve never had to go over 2 1/2 hours for the rise, only on really cold winter days have I gotten close to 3 hours)


I place a tea towel over top just because I like to tuck my dough in for its rest, plus it helps me see how well the dough is rising without having to peak and yeast is shy and doesn’t like that. This is about an hour into the rise.


While the dough is proofing I like to make the pizza sauce, that way the sauce has a chance to cool down instead of going onto the pizza hot.

Start by heating olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add about 10-12 cloves minced garlic, stirring constantly, and cook until it starts turning golden brown. Turn the heat down to low and add in the salt, red pepper flakes, oregano, and sugar, stirring to combine.


Now add in canned tomatoes, normally I use my own but I ran out awhile ago and in that case I use San Marzano tomatoes. You can use plum tomatoes in this recipe but they aren’t quite as sweet and have a few more seeds.


Now using a potato masher crush the tomatoes down until you have a nice chunky sauce. Leaving some bigger chunks is fine as it will cook down as the sauce cooks. Once the tomatoes are added and crushed turn the heat up to medium high, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a boil. Once it is boiling turn the heat back down to medium low and let it cook down for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.


You can tell the sauce is ready when all the flavour have combined and a lot of the moisture has been cooked out making the sauce thicker.


Once the sauce is ready remove from the heat and set to the side allowing the sauce to cool before being put on the pizza. Once there is about 30 minutes left in the rise for the pizza dough I like to preheat the oven, its going to 550 so it takes awhile, then get my toppings ready for the pizza. Again this is family pizza night so the toppings are very boring, pepperoni and cheese ( I use a blend of mozzarella and old cheddar) but you can really put whatever your favourites are on this bad boy. Also isn’t it amazing to see that lovely looking pizza dough pillow we’ve created. It never stops shocking when I take the tea towel off to this lovely dough, even if I am home alone I always say Ta-Da! Just kidding, ok no I am not.


Now time to gently press and stretch the dough to fit the pan, do this oh so carefully. You will see all the lovely air bubbles that have developed in the dough we want to try and keep those as intact as possible. Starting in the middle gently press down on the dough and working it to the right side. Again, press down in the centre gently and even the dough to the left. Once you’ve gently evened the dough out, you may want to  stretch the dough just passed the edges of the pan then let it shrink back and settle snuggly inside the tray.


Alright here is where things get weird, or weirder, start by sprinkling the cheese all over the surface of the pizza dough. That is right, I put the cheese first, don’t ask why I have no reason other than I like how  it turns out this way.


Now dollop the tomato sauce evenly over the cheese, you may not need all the sauce that we made it depends on your preference and what you like. In this house we are sauce people so I use all of it.


Now gently, without disturbing the cheese, with the back of a spoon evenly spread the sauce over the entire pizza.


We are almost done and soon we will have pizza to shove in our mouths, can’t wait! Last but not least, add on the pepperoni. You may notice I’ve used multiple types of pepperoni, I could pretend that it is different types on purpose, but the reality is I had three different kinds of leftover pepperoni in my fridge and not enough of any one kind to offer symmetry and it seemed weird to go to the grocery store for more when I already have enough.  This is how I probably ended up in this situation to begin with, anyway pizza is ready for the oven. Once it has reached 550 toss the pizza in. It will bake for about 10 minutes.


Once the pizza is fully baked, 10 minutes should be enough but if you need more that is fine but only add a minute at a time. I like to check if the pizza is ready by lifting one corner and peaking to see if the bottom is golden brown.


That is it you are ready to serve dinner, or eat it all yourself I am not here to judge.


Oh wait, I forgot to mention before you slice it up, I think its great to add a fresh sprinkle of grated parmesan. Ok there, now it is ready to be sliced up and served.





Pizza Dough:

3 – 3 1/2 cups bread flour (all purpose works too)

1 tablespoon sea salt

21 grams fresh yeast (cake yeast)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup for greasing sheet

1 1/2 cups warm water (not hot)

1/2 teaspoon sugar


2 cups grated cheese (1 cup mozzarella 1 cup old cheddar)

Quick tomato sauce (recipe below)

1 cup sliced pepperoni (different kinds because that is what I had, and I hate wasting food)



  • In the bowl of the stand mixer, add the warm water and sprinkle the sugar over top.
  • Crumble the fresh yeast over the warm water in the bowl, leave to become foamy for about 5 minutes.
  • While the yeast is activating, combine flour and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Measure out 2 tablespoons olive oil and reserve for the dough.
  • Take the remaining 1/4 cup of oil and evenly spread over a 13 x 18 inch baking sheet. Set to the side.
  • Now the yeast should be foamy, add in the reserved olive oil and half the flour mixture. Using the paddle attachment mix the dough on low until fully combined.
  • At this point switch from the dough hook to the paddle attachment. Add half of the remaining flour and mix to fully combine.
  • Scrape down the mixing bowl as needed with a spatula, if the dough is still very sticky I would add the remaining flour, if it is almost pulling away from the bowl then add half of what is left to see if that is enough.
  • Once the dough is pulling cleanly away from the bowl and forming a ball, you’ve added enough flour and it should be fully combined.
  • Now with the mixer on medium knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until elastic and holding shape.
  • Shape the dough into a small rectangle and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Gently stretch and pat out the dough into a slightly larger rectangle that is about 1/2 – 1″ thick. The dough will not come close to covering the sheet, this happens as it rises.
  • Once the dough is thinned out, turn it over to make sure both sides are well coated with the olive oil.
  • Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise about 2 -3 hours.
  • 30 minutes before the rise is over, preheat the oven to 550 degrees.
  • Once the dough has finished its rise you will see a soft pillowy, much larger rectangle that has mostly filled the baking sheet.
  • Remove the plastic wrap, and starting in the middle, gently push and stretch the dough out to the left, then repeat this process on the right. Be very gentle, you are just moving the dough enough that it fills the pan and is fairly level, don’t ruin all the air bubbles that have filled this dough.
  • Now add the toppings. I like the way this tastes putting the cheese, first then the sauce, followed by the toppings. If that is too weird you can put it together in whatever order you like, with whatever toppings.
  • I used a mixture of cheese, followed by the sauce (recipe below), and finally pepperoni.
  • Once the pizza is ready place in the oven to bake for about 10 minutes, or until the pizza is golden brown on the bottom and pepperoni is starting to crisp up. You can check the bottom by lifting one corner of the pizza with a spatula. If the bottom isn’t golden brown add a minute or two more.
  • Remove the fully cooked pizza from the oven and sprinkle with fresh grated parmigiano reggianno.
  • Slice and serve, leftovers reheat well in the oven or microwave. Or eat it cold, still good.


Quick Tomato Sauce


2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

10 – 12 cloves garlic (you could do less, but I don’t know why you would)

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes

1 – 28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano if you can, plum is good too)

1 teaspoon sugar

Sea salt to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon)


  • Place a large sauce pan over medium heat and add the olive oil and garlic.
  • Once the oil has heated, and the garlic is starting to brown, add the oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and sugar. Allow to cook a minute or two until you can smell the spices, making sure to stir constantly to prevent burning.
  • Add the canned tomatoes, liquid also, and using a potato masher, crush the tomatoes into small chunks.
  • Once the tomatoes are crushed turn the heat to medium high, stirring occasionally, cook the sauce until it reaches a boil.
  • Once it boils turn the heat down to low and allow the mixture to cook down until thickened, this will take about 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Once the sauce has reduced in volume and thickened it is ready, remove from the heat and set to the side to allow the sauce to cool before using on the pizza.
  • Use as much or as little of the sauce as you prefer.





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