I love pizza. Honestly, who doesn't!? This pizza recipe is extra special because it comes from my maternal grandmother Elizabeth who would have been 100 years old today! She is pictured below with my grandpa Joe on their wedding day.
From the stories I have been told, she was compassionate, gentle, nurturing, and wise. Though we never met, I still feel as though I have a connection with her from the years I spent hanging around my grandpa. He spoke of her with such fondness and even decades after her death, I know he still missed her terribly. I also carry her namesake with my middle name being Elizabeth. It is such a beautiful name and very fitting for the lovely woman she was.
Everyone called her Ebby (pronounced like “Ibby”). She was the youngest of 10 children, and I can only imagine how difficult times must have been for the family. You see, Elizabeth’s mother Betty passed away when she was just 8 years old. I cannot imagine the loss of a mother at such a young age. I know she was very close to her family, especially her sister Nina. Aside from her nurturing spirit, she was also known for her baking. She used to bake beautiful pies, cakes, and meals for the men after a hard day of working. Perhaps that is the real reason I love baking so much. It’s in my blood.
Many of my grandmother’s traits I see in my own mother. My mom is modest, but she is the most nurturing person I know and has been since before I was born. While finishing up college at the University of Northern Iowa, she helped provide care for her mom as she was battling early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she returned home to continue helping with her care as the disease progressed. My grandmother passed on February 22, 1988. Fast forward to 2011 or so when my grandpa Joe’s health began to decline. His was due to typical aging and lots of wear and tear from decades of hard physical labor on the farm. We all called him Poppy, and he was truly loved by everyone who knew him. He had a heart of gold, twinkly blue eyes, and perhaps even a bit of an ornery streak. He was unable to live alone, but he wanted to stay at his own home. My mom and brother Matt made it all possible for him by providing the vast majority of his in-home care until his death on January 2, 2015. I know their time and effort meant the world to my grandpa. My brother Matt and his wife Libby now reside at my grandpa’s old house. Poppy and Matt had a truly remarkable bond like no other. Here is a photo of my mom, grandpa, uncle Larry, grandma, and aunt Donna.
As much as this post is to reflect on the life of my grandmother Elizabeth, it is also to celebrate her legacy and the impact she left on those who knew her. My heritage is founded in hard work, kindness, and helping others. I think if we had more of that in today’s world, we would see a lot more gratitude and a lot less complaining.
So now, I want to share the special recipe!
My grandmother's pizza crust dough only contains yeast, water, salt, and flour. It is an easy dough to prepare and results in a delicious crust! The toppings can be easily adjusted based on your preferences. For our pizza, we made half with ground beef and onion. The other half was topped with olives and jalapenos for Rob. He loves all things spicy!
This pizza is a true comfort food and reminds me of home. It is a fun to make, and would be an especially perfect activity to involve kids. Each family member could add their favorite toppings to a section of the pizza or even make their own mini pizzas. I hope your family enjoys it as much as ours. I am blessed to have so many treasured recipes passed down from family.
See below for the recipe and step-by-step photos!
Homemade Pizza Crust
1 package (or 2 ¼ tsp) aactive dry yeast
¼ cup water (105-110° F)
1 cup lukewarm water
½ tsp salt
Approximately 3 cups flour
Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup warm water (105-110° F) and let sit for about 10 minutes. It should appear foamy. In a large mixing bowl, add the yeast mixture, remaining 1 cup of water, salt, and 2 cups of flour. Mix and add the remaining 1 cup flour gradually until it forms a dough. You may need slightly more or less flour.
Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, for a few minutes. Sprinkle with additional flour if dough becomes too sticky. Place back in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400° F.
For a thicker crust, use a 11 x 17 inch pan. For thinner crust, use a larger pan or use part of the dough for a smaller second pizza. Grease the pan generously and sprinkle with cornmeal, if desired. Press the dough to the outer edges of the pan. Add sauce and toppings. See below for topping ideas.
Once assembled, bake until the crust is browned on the bottom and the cheese is melted. Depending on the size of your pizza, the time will vary but typically takes around 20-30 minutes.
Olive oil with garlic
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Cooked ground beef
Chopped fresh basil (added after baking)
Mix up your dough:
Let rise for 20 minutes:
Grease your baking pan. Sprinkle with cornmeal, if desired:
Press the dough to the edges and add pizza sauce:
Add your favorite toppings:
Top with cheese:
Bake until golden:
Slice it up: