Culbertson Family Secret Recipe for the Best Homemade Pizza Ever
Have I mentioned that I love pizza? Recently the Culbertson Agency published our top ten pizza restaurants in Fort Myers. But I left off my favorite pizza in Fort Myers. That’s because it doesn’t come from a restaurant. For the very first time ever, I’m about to share with you the Culbertson family secret recipe for the BEST homemade pizza ever.
This recipe has taken our family years to develop. Friday night is pizza night in our household. We’ve tried many different techniques, but I believe we now have mastered a pie that we consider to be the best homemade pizza ever. All the ingredients can be purchased at our favorite grocery store in the world (Publix of course), and even though we will be using the best of the best ingredients, you can still feed a family of five for under $20.
The key to making the best homemade pizza ever isfresh andhigh-quality ingredients.
- Publix Pizza Dough. You can find this in the refrigerated section near the bakery.
- Pizza sauce of your choice. You’ll need to try a few to see what you like best. Our family prefers Ragu Home-style for its simplicity and consistency.
- Fresh mozzarella. Don't getthe pre-shredded stuff; Only use FRESH mozzarella like BelGioioso. I also like to mix in a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese as well.
- If you like Pepperoni, buy it as a stick and cut it yourself. We cut ours up into little strips or square chunks. Trust me, this is a MUST DO if you want to make the best pizza ever.
- Garlic and a goodExtra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fresh toppings of your liking (mushrooms, onion, fresh cut basil, hot sausage, etc) … the key is FRESH FRESH FRESH ingredients.
- Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes, Oregano for topping off
- Red wine to enjoy while cooking and eating
Here we go; I’m going to lead you step-by-step through the Culbertson family process for making the best homemade pizza ever. Some of the steps may seem rudimentary. Keep in mind we’re insurance agents not professional chefs, so we may even be doing this all wrong, but all I can say is the results are scrumptious.
Best Homemade Pizza = Perfect Crust
Pre-heat your over to 450 degrees. To make the best homemade pizza ever, I HIGHLY recommend you have a pizza stone (or two or three) available. Allow the stones to pre-heat along with the oven. This will provide for the crispiest crust. We have two pizza stones that came from Pampered Chef, one of which we picked up at a yard-sale and the other from our friend Holly who is a local consultant.
Quick tip - the more you use your pizza stone, the better and more flavorful the crust will be. If it’s the first time you've ever used it, I’d recommend putting a light coat of olive oil on the stone. NEVER WASH YOUR PIZZA STONE!!! Clean with some course salt and a dry cloth, but never wash in soap or your pizza will ... taste like soap.
Stretching and Baking the Dough
While your oven and pizza stones are heating, begin to work and stretch your dough. You’ll want to cover your counter with a nice amount of flour to avoid sticking, and it helps add a flakiness to your crust as the flour works through the dough creating layers. Work from the middle of the dough outwards and use the heel of your hand to gently press the dough outward until it forms a nice circle. Turn the dough often. Pick the dough up and LIGHTLY stretch (knuckles not fingers). THIS TAKES TIME AND PRACTICE so don’t be frustrated if you don’t get it perfect the first few times.
Give it a few hand tosses in the air like you’ve seen at your favorite Fort Myers pizza joint in a circular motion. The key is to continue to work the dough until it stretches and you get a nice thin and even crust. Once I get mine mostly stretched out, I’ll also run over it a few times with a rolling pin, again with lots of flour on the bottom and top of the crust to help create layers. If you get a hole in the dough, wet your fingers a little and try to "glue" it back together. If you're struggling, watch a few YouTube videos for some additional techniques.
Once your pizza stone(s) and oven are heated and you've got the dough stretched, gently lay your crust on the stone. Poke several tiny holes in the dough with a fork to help prevent air bubbles as the crust bakes. If any of your crust hangs over the edge of the pan either fold it under or use kitchen scissors to trim off excess dough.
Oven Time (round 1)
Go ahead and pop the dough into the oven and bake for approximately 5-10 minutes. By pre-baking your crust, you’ll end up which a much crispier crust. If your oven cooks un-even, you may want to rotate the crust 180-degrees half way through the cooking process.Keep your eye on the dough. When you see it starting to turn a light brown go ahead and get it out of the oven.
Next add some extra virgin olive oil and garlic to the crust. I use a paint brush to do this. Don't be too heavy handed with the olive oil, as it could make your crust soggy. You can also add other spices like oregano, basil, rosemary at this time to really give your crust some extra pop and flavor.
Oven Time (round 2)
Put the crust back in the over for another 3-5 minutes (again, just keep your eye on it) to roast the garlic and lock in that flavor to the crust. You should end up with a nice brown and slightly crisp crust that is about 70% complete.
Fresh Toppings = Best Homemade Pizza
Now that your crust is beginning to get crispy (but not totally done), it’s time to add your sauce and toppings. I recommend prepping all your toppings and put in little bowls. If your family likes different toppings, this can also allow each person to customize their pizza with their own favorite toppings.
Spoon your favorite sauce into the center of the pizza and use the back of a spoon to spread it out evenly to the edges.
Add your meat toppings followed by mushrooms and veggies.
Tear the fresh mozzarella into small pieces and add to the pizza along with some freshly grated Parmesan. I recently discovered that an orange zester works great on Parmesan cheese.
Lastly top it all off with fresh basil, oregano, pepper or any other spices you’d like. This adds flavor and gives your finished pizza a more professional look.
Oven Time (round 3)
Put the pizza back into the oven for the final round of baking. You may consider lowering the oven temperature to 400-degrees for this last round to avoid scorching the toppings. Your pizza will be done in5-10 minutes, depending on your number of toppings and your oven. If you used a lot of veggies, you may need more cooking time due to the moisture in the vegetables.
Waiting for the Best Homemade Pizza Ever
Waiting for a train to go, or a bus to come … or a pizza to be done. While you wait, uncork your favorite red wine, poor a glass and clean up the mess you just made in the kitchen.
Cooking with Love = Best Homemade Pizza
Be sure to keep a watchful eye on the pizza and cook until you like what you see. Cheese should be melted completely and crust a nice golden brown before removing from the oven.
While you wait, let the kids play with the left over dough. Better yet, let them make a desert with it. Last night our kids decided to make cinnamon and sugar soft pretzels, which turned out quite delicious.
The Moment You’ve Been Waiting For
Pull your masterpiece out of the oven. Be sure to let it cool for 5-minutes then cut into squares or triangles. As my kids say "Bon Appétit ...now you may eat!" You've just completed making the best homemade pizza ever, and what makes it even better is putting your own spin on this to make it YOUR families recipe.
Making homemade pizza together as a family is a great way to spend a Friday night and provides for some great bonding moments with kids of all ages. It also makes for a great date night, or time with close friends.
If you attempt to bake the best homemade pizza ever, please leave a comment below or post your pictures to our Facebook page. If you have other ideas to try to improve the Culbertson family receipt, PLEASE SHARE ... we're always looking to improve and upgrade!!!