Friday, September 5, 2014

"Cheese Pizza" To Celebrate "National Cheese Pizza Day!"

As far as history has been recorded, bread has been a basic part of the world’s eating habits and a traditional companion with meals. There are various assortments of breads which include different textures, flavors, and toppings. The most popular bread type by far is the Pizza Pie. Come with me as we explore and celebrate “National Cheese Pizza Day!” Every September 5th we celebrate this day by eating cheese pizza. That's right today is the day to go to your favorite pizza parlor and order a really large cheese pizza. Better yet, drag out the pizza stone and cutter, because today is the day to make your own homemade pizza dough and honor National Cheese Pizza Day the homemade way. It’s party time, invite all your friends and have the biggest cheese pizza block party you've ever had! You can't get any better than that!

Everyone in the world knows that a Cheese Pizza is a pizza with lots of cheese! This world-popular dish of Italian origin, made with an oven-baked, flat, generally round bread that is often covered with tomatoes or a tomato-based sauce and mozzarella cheese. Other cheese varieties are added according to region, culture, or personal preference. To understand the fascination of this awesome dish we call Pizza, we need to understand about the dough or crust first.

A pizza's crust can be made using almost any dough or bread recipe. White flour is commonly used for a soft crust that won't crumble, which is usually considered desirable. Whole wheat flour can be used to make a firmer crust. Cake flour can be useful if a crumbly crust is desired. Other common ingredients in crusts include Olive oil (usually extra virgin), active dry yeast, sugar, and salt. What type of crust to use is matter of taste. There are several types of pizza crust that are constructed differently and have (sometimes) wildly different textures, though the taste remains fairly consistent. The most common styles are Neapolitan, thin, New York-style, deep dish, Sicilian, and pan pizza crust. There are many different techniques for preparing dough, most largely dependent on the type of crust you've decided to make. Because pizza crusts almost always contain yeast they must be allowed to rise at least once, though some recipes recommend improving the flavor and texture of the dough by allowing the crust to rise 2 separate times.

The next part of the pizza is the tomato sauce. A simple sauce consists of tomato paste, basil, and oregano. Using tomato puree will give a runny sauce that must be spread thinly to prevent the cheese and toppings from sliding off. Diced, dried, or crushed tomatoes may be added for extra flavor and texture. Onions, peppers, garlic, and sugar are often used as well. Spices are more flavorful when ground right before use. Pizza with cheese baked onto it, without any sauce at all, is sometimes called a white pizza.

Now we come to the cheese, which is my favorite. The basic pizza cheese is mozzarella. (My personal favorite) Feta is often used in combination with a spinach topping. Cheddar can be used for a more southwestern taste. Ricotta cheese is used for White Pizza. (No red sauce) Commercial pizzerias almost always use a blend of various cheeses, the most common of which are mozzarella, parmesan, and romano.

Toppings go on top of the cheese and they are very popular with today’s pizza. Put plenty of topping near the edges to protect the cheese from burning there. A pizza without toppings will cook much faster than one with toppings. Anchovies, oil-coated broccoli, black olives, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, precooked and drained sausage, bacon, hamburger, salami, or tomatoes, and finally precooked chicken or ham.

Last but not least, pizzas are typically baked directly on special surfaces for short periods at temperatures in excess of 500° F (260° C). Coal and brick ovens are preferred for baking pizza because of their even heat and superior heat-retention. Some pizzerias prefer to use a wire-mesh pan though, as working with pizza peels can be difficult for some. Home bakers can attempt to duplicate the effects of a brick oven by using a baking stone (also called a pizza stone), a slab of porous stone that evenly heats the pizza, helping it develop a better crust. Baking/pizza stones become "seasoned" after frequent use, a characteristic that is said to improve the flavor of crusts baked on them.

Whatever role pizza plays in a meal, the delightful aromas fill a home and it stirs all the senses. I remember when my grandmother (whom we called Nanni) would come over for a visit; she would make us a pizza with onions, oil, grated cheese, and the freshest herbs she could find. No tomato sauce and no mozzarella cheese. Instead of a round pizza pan, she would make the pizza in a flat sheet pan. Her crust was always soft and thick something like a Sicilian pizza would be. It was always fun making pizza with her as she would always tell a few stories about her Italian roots as we were eating. This recipe is very similar to my grandmothers. I hope that you enjoy your pizza; it really makes the house fragrant. It is what I would call, “real comfort food.”

Cheese Pizza

Ingredients for dough:
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups of warm water (110° -115° F)
3 1/2 to 3- 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for Pizza toppings:
Marinara sauce
Mozzarella cheese
Some extra virgin olive oil
Pecorino Romano grated cheese
Plus what ever topping you like…

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Allow the yeast to proof until it is foamy, about 10 minutes. Add 3 cups of flour, salt and sugar. Mix the dough with your hands or use a mixer with a dough hook. Add the remaining flour as needed to make dough that holds together. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead it for about 5 minutes, just to get the gluten moving. Grease a bowl with the olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Turn the dough a few times in the bowl so the oil coats the dough. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise for 2 hours in a warm place. Then punch down the dough and knead it for a few minutes on a lightly floured surface. Use the dough to make one large pizza or divide it in half to make 2 small ones. Now that your dough is made you can make your pizza with any ingredients you wish. Make a ridge around the outside of the dough. Just make sure the ingredients are fresh and you will have a mouth watering pizza that you can’t wait to eat. . If you need a marinara sauce for your pizza, please check out my post for my “Mama’s Marinara Tomato Sauce recipe. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the crust becomes light browned and the cheese is melted. Mangia!

Till Next Time………………………….

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love”  All Rights Reserved


  1. Who knew it was Cheese Pizza Day tomorrow!? I didn't but I still have time to make some! Thanks for sharing your recipe for cheese pizza, Dottie along with such a great explanation of the types of pizzas that exist. There are truly so many! Thanks for the info and have a lovely weekend!

    1. Good Evening Christina, Thank you so much for such a lovely comment...I can't imagine anyone not liking some form of pizza, like you said there are so many different types of pizzas that one has a variety to choose from. They even have gluten free pizza, I wanted to take apart the pizza from the bottom crust to the toppings. Explaining the different types etc. Some people think it is just cheese and dough, but I wish I had more space and time, I would have talked about the fruit pizza, which is a favorite of mine as well. Maybe another post. Thanks again for visiting and I wish you as well my friend a fun weekend too! These weekends go too fast for me...Dottie :)

  2. Dear Dottie, Homemade pizza always brings back memories. My mom would make pizza in a rectangle pan; Sicilian style. Pizza though was never a main course it really was to go with what we were having and I suppose took the place of the bread. Nowadays, it is the meal. I still find that difficult to get used to.

    Your grandma's pizza does sound delish. I know I would enjoy it.
    Have a beautiful weekend dear and blessings, Catherine xo

    1. Hi Catherine,
      Thanks for your comment and for stopping by. So happy that you enjoyed this post. I love it when I can bring someone back to memories of their youth. I agree with you about having the pizza on the side. We did the same thing...My mom would say it was the starch of the meal. As we became older and the world changed. We would have a pizza from the pizza parlor but with a big green salad to add to out meal. My Nanni would make her pizza on a weekend for a late night snack or a treat when she would stay over and visit with us. That was definitely not our meal as far as she was concerned. Sometimes instead of pizza she would use the dough and make us calzones. Another special treat. Things have changed now, but at least we have our memories. Have a blessed weekend dear friend with your family...
      Dottie :)

  3. Good evening Dottie ,
    Wonderful post as usual . I love pizza any way you slice it , just give me a slice of the pie . With four kids you know I make pizzas often . Their favorite is sweet the kitchen ... like gumbo ... everything goes but the kitchen sink . It's so funny , none of us likes anchovies .
    You are so right homemade pizzas is the best because you know what you are feeding your family .
    The cheesy pizza do bring back memories , HMmmmmmm so good .
    Thank you for a wonderful post ... I ill make the kids a treat tomorrow . Some homemade pizza .
    Your Nanni is a beautiful lady in the photograph . Thanks for sharing .
    Have a blessed and safe weekend ~~Nee~~ ;-D

    1. Good evening Nee, Thank you my friend for visiting and your wonderful comment! I agree with you I love pizza as well. With your four children, they sure keep you popping and I love the idea about your pizza you make with them, sounds yummy, but without the kitchen sink for sure..(HaHa) So glad that I was able to bring back memories for you about your childhood. Yes, my Nanni was an awesome woman. She was a very open person and would do anything for you, but she was always very different. She is my grandmother that owned the hat shop, where she made the hats, (including the one she has on in the photo) When she passed I have a lot of her hats including the one she is wearing. Truly a woman of class. I hope that you and yours have a blessed and fun weekend...Dottie :).

  4. Oh I enjoyed reading about pizza. It is so interesting that you can make so many different type of pizzas. It is a dish that has so many variations and it is always so good. I make it every week and my family never seem to get bored with it.
    How elegant and lovely your grandmother looked! She looked like a proper lady, refined and elegant.
    I hope you have a good week. xxx

    1. Dear Alida,
      Thanks for your comment, dear friend. I agree with you, that there are so many ways to enjoy pizza. There is just something about it. I can imagine how your family must enjoy your variations of pizza. I also could never get bored either. You are correct, Alida, my Nanni was an amazing woman and she really was a class act for sure. The hat she has on in this photo is one that she made, as she was a milliner. Since she has passed on I have many of her hats that she made. A treasure to have forever. I wish you a great week as well with your family.
      Dottie :) xx

  5. This pizza recipe sounds delicious! For my family, pizza is great because everyone likes it. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you Valerie, I agree I don't know anyone that doesn't love Pizza. Glad you enjoyed this post and recipe. Come back any time. Dottie :)