As a kid who grew up in a small south Texas town on the Gulf Coast, I can’t claim to have a rich family history of homemade pizza from my grandma. I actually have more fond memories of fried bologna sandwiches on white Rainbow bread with yellow mustard, than I do anything as exotic as a homestyle pizza.
But as a child who also grew up during the convenience packaged food era, I do remember boxes of Chef Boyardee pizza and begging my mom to buy one for dinner. Remember those? I know I’m not the only kid that wanted Chef Boyardee on a weekend night!
Those boxed pizza mixes really did pique my interest early on and so began my fascination for making pizza at home. I always made sure my dough was perfectly aged and very thin, the oven scorching hot, and the baking surface perfect, whether tiles or steel, so I could achieve a browned bottom crust and bubbling gooey cheese top.
But over the years, while reading and studying various ways to play with pizza dough, I stumbled on a true, easy as pie, pizza recipe and technique. It’s called a “grandma pizza” and it takes a few simple ingredients and uses them in a perfect way.
First, the oven temperature is lower than usual, 425-450°F. Second, the dough (make your own or use store-bought) is rolled slightly and pressed into a pan of your choosing: 9 x13” lasagna pan or a 10” round cast iron pan, or any pan with a rim (the rim is super important).
Next, you place the mozzarella cheese on top of the crust FIRST and you sprinkle it all the way to the edge. You want the cheese to actually get yummy and crispy. Then, top the cheese with dots of sauce, just a little, and bake it until the cheese starts to get crunchy along the edges. Top with a little parmesan and bake a few more minutes. Let the pizza rest for just a couple minutes and then dive right in!
We’ve made a video of this easy as pie, Grandma Pizza Pie and you can try this at home. I would have loved this as a child, but then I could not wax poetically about the joys of fried bologna sandwiches with mustard. Who knows, maybe someday we can revisit that very humble southern grandma offering as well. 😉
We’d love to hear of your own childhood “Grandma” food memories, if you’d care to share them with us! Chef Deb
Grandma’s Pizza Pie
- Store-bought or Basic Pizza Dough (recipe below)
- 4 cups grated mozzarella
- 1 cup marinara sauce (we like Rao’s)
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- If using Basic Pizza Dough, gently deflate the dough and use a rolling pin to roll into a loose rectangle. For store-bought dough, simply roll into a loose rectangle.
- Place rectangle in a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan. (The darker the pan, the darker the crust will be. )
- Sprinkle the cheese directly over the dough, all the way to the edges. Top with dots of marinara sauce, and bake for about 20 minutes until the crust begins to brown.
- Remove the pizza from the oven, top with Parmesan and oregano, and place back into the oven and cook until the Parmesan has melted, about 5-7 minutes.
- Let pie rest for 5 minutes then serve.
Basic Pizza Dough
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. active dry yeast or instant yeast,
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 5 1/2 to 6 cups all purpose flour
- Place water and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add sugar, yeast and salt and stir to dissolve.
- Add 5 cups of flour and continue adding more as necessary to make a soft, smooth dough.
- Mix the dough, using a dough hook, until it’s smooth and elastic, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or other container, cover, and let it rise for 1 to 2 hours, whatever fits your schedule. (Pizza dough recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour)