Pizza is one of those foods so suspiciously simple, it’s a wonder why we so readily fork over wrinkled $20s for it.
Perhaps in that simplicity, we understand that craftsmanship is needed and laymen such as ourselves are incapable of the alchemy involved. The deterrent of messing up straightforward ingredients is perhaps why we opt to let someone else toil while our eyes occasionally dart back-and-forth from Dirty Dancing to the clock, waiting instead of making.
How you turn five or so ingredients into the touch of Italian God is a wonder to me. I just assumed cooks whispered folksy hymnals into the oven or kept Nonna’s secret elixir behind their apron. Dissolving that cloud of mystery is why I first tried my hand at making pizza, and why I catch myself wondering “maybe I should hydrate my dough more” at busy intersections. After dozens of pies, I’ve come to understand that on paper, the easiest task is often the hardest and vice versa.
Dough is difficult to make, comprehend, and sustain. Sauce is incredibly forgiving and only really takes time. I’m not making mozzarella.
To this day I still don’t love making dough. How you coax the foundation of pizza from flour, water, etc. haunts me. You don’t want too wet a dough, too dry a dough, essentially — the logistics are daunting.
This is truly where artisans shine and us normies, we uhh, we’d probably rather have someone else do this for us. ‘We’ as in me.
I recommend finding a recipe you believe is reasonable and finagling it to your specifications. That or you can outsource your efforts to pizzerias that sell dough. Cheese. Go buy it. Unless you’re keen on thinning hair and obsessing over whatever the hell rennet is — go buy it from a cheese shoppe or deli.
Sauce is my personal wheelhouse. Some people prefer a quick simple sauce; for a margarita pie, however, I like something a little more complicated. Onions, garlic, crushed San Marzanos, red pepper flake, basil, butter, dried oregano, a dash of onion powder, and simmered for 5-6 hours. I think the end result yields a rich sauce with some remnants of that parlor pizza taste you loved as a kid. Time heals all wounds and that maxim certainly rings true when it comes to sauce. Give it some time and whatever minor missteps you’ve made should diffuse into general complexity.
Once you’ve created, eaten, and demystified pizza — it can only be decided by you personally whether or not the process was gratifying enough to continue regularly. For me, the beauty and burden of making pizza warrants one or two attempts a month. That said, I believe pizza-making is crucial in any home cook’s arsenal. The merit of this skill is bountiful and always a crowd pleaser.
Armed with this tale, I challenge you to go forth 00 flour in one hand and an Italian gesture cocked in the other.