Craving a slice of pizza? You are likely not alone. According to a recent online survey by Caulipower, a maker of healthier pizza using cauliflower crusts, 98 percent of Americans eat pizza, and 33 million Americans have said they’d make it their last meal if they had a choice. Technomic’s 2020 Canadian Pizza Consumer Trend Report offered that 81 percent of consumers eat pizza at least once a month.
Pizza certainly tops the lists of comfort foods people turn to when they want tasty meals or snacks. Let’s slice into a few more facts about pizza.
· Pizza commands plenty of dates on holiday events calendars. October is National Pizza Month, September 5 marks National Cheese Pizza Day, February 9 is National Pizza Day, April 5 is National Deep Dish Pizza Day, September 10 is National Pepperoni Pizza Day, and the third Friday in May is National Pizza Party Day. There are others as well, helping people to enjoy pizza many days during the year.
· Pizza hails from Italy. Antica Pizzeria is the very first known pizzeria in Italy. It opened in 1738.
· The pizza industry brings in roughly $30 billion a year.
· Cheese pizza is a favorite of many. However, pepperoni is the most popular topping in the United States and Canada.
· The busiest day for ordering pizza is Super Bowl Sunday. This fast food is easily enjoyed while watching the game.
· “Canadian pizza” contains sauce, mozzarella cheese, bacon, pepperoni, and mushrooms.
· According to the data company ScrapeHero, Hunts Brothers Pizza is the largest pizza chain in the United States, with 9,240 locations as of 2023.
· Boston Pizza, 241 Pizza and Freshslice Pizza are some popular Canadian pizza chains.
Now that we’ve consumed some pizza facts, it’s time to consume the pizza itself. Enjoy this recipe for “Classic Cheese Pizza” courtesy of The Pioneer Woman and Leah Perez.
Classic Cheese Pizza
Yields 6 to 8 servings
11/4 ounce packet active dry yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
11/2 cup warm water (90 to 100 F)
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
21/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup pizza sauce, divided
3 cups shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup cubed fresh mozzarella cheese, divided
Fresh basil to serve
1. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to combine and then let sit until bubbles have formed on the top, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and salt, and mix with the dough hook on low speed until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bottoms and sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium-low until everything is well incorporated and the dough is sticky, 2 to 3 minutes more.
2. Drizzle the top of the dough and down the sides of the bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Use a rubber spatula to flip the dough to coat in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
3. About 1 hour before you’re ready to make the pizza, place a pizza stone, steel, or an upside-down baking sheet on the upper third rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500 F.
4. On a lightly floured work surface, cut the dough in half and form into tight rounds. To form a nice round, flatten the dough onto the circle. Flip it over and gently pull the round against the counter to form a taut ball. Place the rounds on a lightly floured baking sheet with enough space for them to rise and expand, about an hour.
5. Place a 14-inch piece of heavy-duty foil on top of an upside-down half-sheet pan. Lightly brush the foil with oil and dust with flour. While working with one round of dough, cover the other with plastic wrap.
6. On a well-floured surface, press one piece of dough into an 8-inch round with 1-inch outer lip. Carefully lift the dough with your hands, cupping the lip to keep from flattening it. Working quickly, rotate the edge of the dough through your hands in a clockwise motion, allowing gravity to stretch the dough into a round shape. Place the dough back on the flour and stretch it into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to the prepared foil.
7. Sprinkle the surface of the pizza with 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan. Spread 1/2 cup pizza sauce over the parmesan, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle the pizza with 11/2 cups of low-moisture mozzarella and 1/2-cup cubed fresh mozzarella.
8. Using the upside down baking sheet as a pizza peel, transfer the pizza with the foil to the preheated baking stone. Bake until the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbling, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer pizza from the foil to a cooling rack. Brush the crust with olive oil, sprinkle the surface with basil leaves, and serve hot. Repeat the process for the other dough round.