Thought Leader Series: How to Host the Perfect BIY Pizza Party

BIO: Erin Pennings is a marketer by trade who serves up tasty treats and fun feats as a food/lifestyle blogger at SalmonAtSeven.com. Pizza parties are always a fun way to celebrate any occasion, even if the occasion is as...

Perfect BIY pizza party

BIO: Erin Pennings is a marketer by trade who serves up tasty treats and fun feats as a food/lifestyle blogger at SalmonAtSeven.com.

Pizza parties are always a fun way to celebrate any occasion, even if the occasion is as simple as a night together as a family. So, what is a B-I-Y pizza party? Build-It-Yourself. We could have used the term D-I-Y, but B-I-Y is a more accurate description, since a pizza is truly built from the ground ... errr, crust up. Now that grilling season is here, one of these awesome pizza parties is a great way to kick it off. Or if you prefer to stay indoors, good pizza fun can be created in the oven also!

Perfect BIY pizza party
A pizza party is made even better with homemade pizzas.

So what makes homemade pizza so extra special? Perhaps it's simply because each cook is able to include their favorite flavor combinations. That's the beauty of a B-I-Y Pizza Party. For families, there's no more fussing about who wants olives and who would rather not have mushrooms. Each person can innovate their own pizza creations using a personal-size pizza crust.

Prepping Your Pizza Dough

As you begin planning your special pizza party, determine early on how you want to cook the pizzas, and what kind of crusts you prefer. If making your dough from scratch, decide if you'd like to pre-cook your crusts or cook them as you go. Do you prefer to grill or bake your pizzas? Both methods make for tasty treats, and you can use pizza stones in both a gas grill and an oven to achieve crusts that are evenly and perfectly cooked, every time.

Perfect Pizza Dough

(Adapted from Fine Cooking)

Ingredients:

1 package (2-1/4 tsp.) active-dry yeast

1-1/2 cups very warm water (110°F)

18 oz. (4 cups) all-purpose flour; more for dusting

1-1/2 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. olive oil

Instructions:

Mix the yeast with the water and set aside. Sift together flour and salt in the warm bowl of either a stand mixer with a dough hook or a food processor. (To warm up the bowl, wash in hot water and dry. Then add the water-yeast mixture and mix well. Add in the olive oil until well mixed. Once a large ball forms, remove from the bowl, and then divide into equal parts. For full-size pizzas, divide into four parts. For personal-size pizzas divide into 10-12 smaller balls. Place on a lightly floured surface and cover for about 45 minutes (or until doubled), and then start rolling and cooking!

Planning Your B-I-Y Pizza Party

If you're having a larger party, you may keep the food rolling faster if you pre-cook your crusts. Then you're simply waiting for the ingredients to heat up and melt together rather than waiting for the dough to cook each time. For more intimate gatherings, you can easily go either direction, but an added bonus of cooking the crusts ahead of time is the ability to store in the fridge to make "leftover" pizzas whenever the mood strikes.

BIY pizza party
Pizza parties are a fun way for friends to enjoy good food and great times together.

A B-I-Y pizza party can be very simple. All you need is one kind of sauce, a cheese, and one or two basic toppings. However, a truly gourmet B-I-Y pizza party will include a wider range of options ... and this is where the fun - and the creativity - really come into play. Either way, you'll have a great event, whether a birthday party, or simply for a themed get together for people with a wide variety of tastes.

A Gourmet Pizza Bar Inspires Creativity

Once your pizza bar is set up, you can turn your guests loose and let them have fun. Have some fun ideas for pizza combos? Write them up and place strategically around your pizza ingredient bar or your pizza-making stations to give inspiration to your guests. Here are some of our ideas for great gourmet ingredients at your B-I-Y pizza party; include as many as you like or more!

Perfect BIY pizza party
The more options your pizza bar has, the more fun and creativity can be unleashed.

Sauces

    • Marinara

    • Pesto

    • Barbecue Sauce

    • Garlic/White Sauce

Meats

    • Pepperoni

    • Ham

    • Sausage

    • Shredded Chicken

Cheeses

    • Mozzarella

    • Cheddar

    • Grated Parmesan

    • Feta

Other toppings

    • Pineapple

    • Mushrooms

    • Bell peppers

    • Olives

    • Red Onion

    • Green Onion

    • Tomatoes

    • Sun-dried Tomatoes

    • Artichoke hearts

If you like some extra seasoning, a great way to add some additional flavor is to mix in seasonings with the oil to spread the herbs evenly throughout the dough. Some suggestions might be garlic-rosemary, basil, or italian herbs.

Need some awesome baking implements like pizza stones or pans? Browse our selection of bakeware. It's time to hit the store so you can start pizza partying.