Austin's Signature Pizza

26 June 2015

When I was a grad student on a tight budget, I found that homemade pizza was a cheap way to eat decent food. Around 2009, I calculated that my wife and I could both eat dinner for around $2. Food prices have gone up since then, and I buy higher quality ingredients now that I can afford it, but it’s still a low cost way to feed the family.

This is a recipe I spent a long time refining. I went through a lot of iterations, trying different crust recipes and tweaking them until I found something that consistently turns out well.

Over the coming months, I will be adapting this recipe into something I can make from the rawest ingredients I can get my hands on. Once I’ve covered all of the individual ingredients I’ll post an updated version of the recipe.


  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Waiting Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes


  • Mixer
  • Grater
  • Pizza Stone
  • Pizza Peel



  • 1 Packet Active Dry Yeast1
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup corn meal


  • 1 24 oz jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 8 oz can of tomato paste


  • 8 oz block of Mozarella Cheese2
  • 8 0z block of Sharp Cheddar Cheese2
  • 8 oz block of Cream Cheese
  • 8 oz pepperonis


  1. In a measuring cup, mix warm water, yeast and sugar.

    Mixing yeast

  2. Wait 10 minutes for the yeast to activate. When it’s done, it should look like this

    Active yeast

  3. In a mixing bowl, mix together the yeast mixture, all-purpose flour, and 1.5 tbsp olive oil.3 When it’s mixed, add whole wheat flour until it reaches a nice doughy consistency, like this:


  4. Coat the dough with the remaining olive oil and cover the bowl with a towel. Leave the dough to rise for at least an hour. If you’re planning ahead I recommend making the dough 12-24 hours in advance and letting it rise in the refrigerator. While you wait for the dough to rise, you can prepare the sauce and toppings.

  5. Mix together the jar of spaghetti sauce and tomato paste.4 This will create a thicker sauce.

  6. Grate your cheddar and mozzerella cheese. I recommend grating pieces of cheddar and mozzerella together, so that the shredded cheese mixes together as you grate it.

  7. When your dough is about ready, put your pizza stone5 in the oven, and preheat to 500 degrees (or as hot as your oven will get).

  8. Lay out your pizza peel, and spread half of your corn meal out on the peel.6

    corn meal

  9. Split your ball of dough into two equal pieces. Spread one ball out on the peel on top of the corn meal. Spread it out with your hands or use a rolling pin. You don’t want it to get too thin, but it should take up most of the peel.

    spreading dough

  10. Rub a little bit of olive oil into the top of the spread out dough.

    olive oil

  11. Spread the sauce out on the dough.


  12. Take half your block of cream cheese. Cut off small chunks (1/2 to 1 tsp each) and spread them out on the pizza.

    cream cheese

  13. Sprinkle the shredded mozzerella and cheddar mixture out over the sauce and cream cheese.


  14. Spread pepperonis over the pizza.

  15. Turn the oven down to 425.7

  16. Transfer the pizza from the peel to the pizza stone. This is done by shaking the peel back and forth while the pizza slides off onto the stone. If you didn’t use enough corn meal for your pizza, it may be stuck to the peel and be very hard to get off. This is the hardest part of making a pizza with a pizza stone, and no matter how much you read about it online, there’s no substitute for practice.

  17. Bake for about 10 minutes. You’ll take it out when the crust is golden brown. Transfer the pizza back to the peel. This tends to be easier than getting the raw dough off of the peel.

  18. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board to cut. Most pizza peels are pretty soft, and won’t hold up to having many pizzas cut on them. Your finished pizza should look like this:

    cooked pizza


There are lots of ways to vary this recipe:

  • Before I had kids, I typically split the dough into three pizzas instead of two.
  • Obviously, toppings can vary wildly. I’ve used the same crust with all sorts of toppings, including different sauces (some day I might cover my alfredo sauce).
  • My wife prefers fresh mozzerella to the grated mixture with cheddar cheese. This will probably be the approach I take with my scratch pizza.
  • Instead of a pizza stone and peel, you can make a deep dish pizza. At my house we have pans made for deep dish pizza, but I used to cook them in my cast-iron skillet.


  1. I use a lot of yeast, so I buy big bags of yeast. It keeps in the feezer for ever, and tends to be cheaper and more convenient than packets. If you go this route, 2.25 tsp = 1 packet.

  2. I strongly recommend using blocks and grating the cheese yourself. If you buy pre-shredded cheese, it’s typically coated with a potato starch that keeps it from clumping together in the bag. This also keeps it from melting together the way you want it to on a pizza. 2

  3. I use a Kitchen-Aid mixer with the dough hook attachment.

  4. I know using a canned sauce and tomato paste isn’t remotely from scratch, but it’s the best sauce I’ve come up with when tomatoes aren’t in season.

  5. Having a pizza stone is key to getting the crust to a good consistency. They tend to be pretty cheap, and if you make much pizza are well worth the investment.

  6. I like to add seasonings to the corn meal. I often use garlic salt and dried basil.

  7. You want the pizza stone to be as hot as possible, but when you put the pizza in you want the oven about 425.