Making the Perfect Pizza

I got a pizza stone for my birthday, so when my friends from work decided we should get together to try out some homemade pizza recipes from the upcoming book Kitchen Workshop–Pizza, I was thrilled. After all, what’s more fun than making (and eating) pizza with friends? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

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Let me tell you one thing right off the bat. I am never going back to:

a) store-bought frozen pizza
b) making pizza with pre-made dough
c) eating anything but pizza (okay, maybe not totally… but still)

We tried four pizza recipes from Ruth Gresser’s new book (publishing in February 2014) and each was simply amazing. What I was astounded by was how easy it was to make each pizza. I figured it would take a long time to perfectly craft four unique pizzas, but the time went by in a flash and the pizzas were simply gorgeous.

Want to check out all of our pizza exploits? I put up a Facebook album with all of the photos so you can enjoy. Hopefully each picture will help you get motivated to come up with some unique and amazing pizza recipes of your very own. If you do, please share. 🙂

And without further ado, here is a sneak peek recipe from Kitchen Workshop–Pizza. Pre-order your copy today!

The Paradiso Pizza
Excerpted from Kitchen Workshop–Pizza by Ruth Gresser

This dough and sauce have joined to create the pizzas at Pizzeria Paradiso for more than twenty years. I hope you find this pizza as irresistible as our customers do.

Paradiso Dough

Pizzeria Paradiso’s bready and robust pizzas rise from this dough. Both crispy and chewy, it can star in a pizza of few toppings or perform the supporting role for your elaborately topped pie. While you can make this dough in an electric mixer, food processor, or bread machine, I have chosen to teach you the simple method of hand mixing using only your fingers and a dough scraper as your tools.


1 pound (455 g) white bread flour, plus more as needed
1 1⁄4 cups (285 ml) warm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon (15 g) kosher salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil

1) Mound the flour on a clean countertop and make a large well (about as wide as your outstretched
hand) in the center of the flour. Add the water and yeast to the well and let stand for 5 minutes to dissolve the yeast.


2) Using the index and middle fingers of one hand, mix the salt and oil into the water. Again using the index and middle fingers, gradually begin to draw the flour from the inside wall of the well into the water, being careful not to break the flour walls.

Continue mixing the flour into the water until a loose dough is formed. Using a dough scraper, continue gradually mixing in the remaining flour until the dough forms a ball.

3) Using even pressure, begin kneading the ball of dough by pushing down and away with the heel of your hand.

Next, take the far edge of the dough and fold it in half onto itself.

Turn the dough a quarter turn. Push down and away again with the heel of your hand. Again fold the dough in half and turn. Continue kneading (pushing, folding, and turning), adding flour as necessary, until the texture is smooth and springs back when you press the dough with your fingertip, or upward of 10 minutes.

4) Place the dough in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

5) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut it into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball.

6) Place the dough balls on a floured plate and cover them with plastic wrap. Let them rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour at room temperature for room temperature dough or 2 to 3 hours at room temperature for cold dough. Or let rise in the refrigerator for 6 hours or up to overnight. (At this point, you may freeze the dough. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.) Allow refrigerated dough to stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

Winter Tomato Sauce

MAKES 2 1⁄2 CUPS (565 G)

2 cups (484 g) canned diced tomatoes (about one 28-ounce, or 800 g, can)
1⁄3 cup (60 g) canned crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
2 large fresh basil leaves torn into small pieces
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

I call this “winter” tomato sauce because when tomatoes are out of season, you can still make this sauce and
enjoy a bright tomato flavor. Uncooked and chunky, it has little in common with most tomato sauces. The chunks of tomato become both sauce and one of the pizza toppings. At Pizzeria Paradiso, we use a combination of diced canned tomatoes and crushed tomatoes; for the latter, we use Pomi brand.

1) Drain the diced tomatoes and place them in a large bowl.

2) Stir in the remaining ingredients.

3) Store the sauce in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage.

The Paradiso Pizza


4 ounces (115 g) fresh cow’s milk mozzarella
1 ball Paradiso Pizza Dough
Cornmeal, for sprinkling
3⁄4 cup (170 g) Winter Tomato Sauce
Kosher salt to taste
Olive oil, for drizzling

While we have 11 house pizzas with various combinations of toppings on Pizzeria Paradiso’s menu, the Paradiso proudly sits at the top of the most frequently ordered pizza list. Many of our customers embellish this iconic tomato-and-cheese pizza, but we think it stands on its own: simple flavors perfectly married.

1) Cut the mozzarella into 1⁄3-inch (about 1 cm) dice. You should have about 3⁄4 cup (115 g).

2) Place a pizza stone on the top rack of a cool oven. Set the oven to broil and preheat for 30 minutes.

3) On a floured work surface, flatten the dough ball with your fingertips and stretch it into a 13-inch (30 cm) round.

4) Sprinkle a pizza peel with cornmeal and lay the pizza dough round onto it. Spread the tomato sauce onto the pizza dough, leaving 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 inch (1.2 to 2 cm) of dough uncovered around the outside edge. Scatter the cheese on top of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with oil.

5) Give the peel a quick shake to be sure the pizza is not sticking to the peel. Slide the pizza off the peel onto the stone in the oven. Broil for 1 minute and then turn the oven temperature to the highest bake setting and cook for 5 minutes. Quickly open the oven door, pull out the rack, and with a pair of tongs, rotate the pizza (not the stone) a half turn. Cook for 5 minutes more.

6) Using the peel, remove pizza from the oven. Cut it into slices and serve.

Kitchen Workshop--Pizza 25 Hands-on Cooking Lessons for Making Amazing Pizza at Home

With help from Kitchen Workshop—Pizza you’ll be a pizza expert in no time! This easy-to-navigate book is a complete curriculum for making your own pizza using a regular home oven. Level 1 contains lessons on how to make different crusts, including New York, Chicago, Neapolitan, whole grain, and gluten free. You’ll also learn a variety of tomato sauces, from slow cooked, to chunky, to roasted. Top them off with the right cheese, be it shredded mozzarella, Pecorino, or vegan mozzarella. Level 2 introduces you to the Italian standards: Margherita, Marinara, Quattro Formaggio—there’s even a calzone recipe! Put a twist on your pie with the creative innovations in Level 3: how about a Moroccan or shrimp pizza? And finally, design your own pie in Level 4, with lessons on sauces, proteins, vegetables, and accents.

From dough to delicious, Kitchen Workshop—Pizza is sure to inspire both novice and expert home chefs in the timeless tradition of pizza making.