If you want to make pizza at home, it's remarkably easy, whether you start from scratch with your own dough or you decide to purchase already made dough from the store. The advantage of making pizza at home is that it tends to be cheaper than pizza from a restaurant, and it also allows you more control over the ingredients. If you live in a household where pizza ordering is accompanied with acrimonious debate, you can also settle the debate by making pizza at home, and issuing each person with their own slab of dough so that they can construct a pizza to personal taste.
The first thing to you need to make pizza, obviously, is pizza dough. You can make pizza dough on your own, in a process which will take around two hours to allow the dough to rise completely, and you can also purchase pizza dough at the store. Many bakeries make pizza dough which is partially baked so that all you need to do is top it and heat it, and these doughs come in a variety of thicknesses.
It helps to assemble the pizza on the surface you plan to bake it on. If you have access to a pizza stone when you make pizza, use it, as it will help the pizza develop a good crust. If you don't have a baking stone, there is no need to panic; a cookie sheet will serve as well. In either case, lightly dust the surface with cornmeal before placing the dough on it to reduce the risk of sticking, and if you are using your own dough, dimple it with your fingers so that it will not bubble during the baking process.
Most pizza is sauced with either red sauce, pesto, or a white sauce, but you can also drizzle the dough with olive oil for a more simple pizza which may end up tasting closer to focaccia. Red sauces go well with a wide variety of ingredients, while pesto tends to work best with just a few ingredients, allowing the flavor of the pesto to come through. A white sauce is made with a roux base, and it also complements a wide variety of ingredients.
The sauce is typically topped with a cheese such as mozzarella, although this is not required. You can also blend cheeses, adding crumbled feta or goat cheese or other cheeses to taste. Remember that as the cheese melts, it will spread, so try to keep it clear of the edge of the pizza. You may also want to think about the flavor of the cheeses used when you make pizza, as some cheeses clash with each other or with some ingredients.
When it comes to toppings, the imagination is the limit, but try not to overload your pizza. Excessive toppings may not cook all the way through, or they may create clashing flavors which make the pizza less enjoyable. Some toppings to choose from include: olives, bell peppers, tomatoes, basil leaves, pepperoni, pieces of sausage, smoked chicken, tofu, anchovies, pineapple, diced ham, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, barbecued tofu, mushrooms, truffle shavings, asparagus spears, spinach, kale, roasted garlic, onions, and fresh herbs. Layer ingredients on evenly, and try to bury ingredients which will cook more quickly towards the bottom so that they do not burn.
Traditional pizza ovens burn extremely hot, and they can cook a thin-crust pizza in minutes. Home ovens require a longer cooking time, especially with thick crust pizza, so plan on around 20 minutes of baking at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius), depending on what is on your pizza.