for Great Pizzas
pizza made at home should be better than a commercial pizza. You get
it fresh from the oven made with fresh ingredients and the combination
of ingredients that you want, on a homemade crust, and with the care
that is not possible commercially.
But there are tricks
to the technique that will make that pizza truly wonderful.
• A great
pizza must have a great crust. A soggy crust will never do. Instead
of piling the goodies on the uncooked dough, partially bake it first.
Usually about eight minutes will do. Then pull it out of the oven, put
the toppings on, and finish baking.
under bake the crust. The crust is done when the bottom is partially
browned. Use a spatula or tongs to lift one edge and peek at the crust.
• Never use
a light-colored pan for baking a pizza. It will reflect the heat and
you will have a hard time baking the crust thoroughly.
• A baking
stone will help bake the crust. Put the baking stone in the oven at
least fifteen minutes ahead of the pizza. We like to bake our pizzas
on a dark baking pan placed on top of the hot stone.
• Place the
pizza low in the oven where radiant heat from the heating elements will
help bake the crust.
• If you
have trouble forming the pizza crust, the gluten may be the problem.
Gluten gives the dough elasticity and a tight dough wants to spring
back into shape. Partially shape the crust and then walk away for five
to ten minutes. When you get back, the dough will have relaxed and you
can finish the crust.
• A pizza
crust of uniform thickness is a better crust. If you are not adept at
spinning the crust, roll it to a uniform thickness of about 1/4 inch
with a rolling pin. You can do that on a peel dusted with cornmeal or
semolina flour so that the crust will slip off easily onto the stone
or pan. If you don’t have a peel, a sheet of heavy cardboard or
even a wooden cutting board will do. You can also form the crust in
your pan. The lips on the pan will preclude a rolling pin, but you can
purchase a little rolling pin meant for the task (and for rolling pasta)
that will work within the rims. If all else fails, grab a small jar
and use it as a rolling pin.
• If you
don’t have time to make or buy your favorite sauce, a jar of spaghetti
sauce will do. Homemade is better but a good commercial sauce is okay.
• Some people
prefer tender crusts; we prefer chewy. For a tender crust, use all-purpose
flour. Our favorite crusts are made with bread flour tempered just a
bit with whole wheat, rye, or all-purpose flours.
• For a really
great pizza crust, once the dough is kneaded, cover it and place it
in the refrigerator over night. The next day, remove the dough and let
it rise on the counter. Allow plenty of time for the dough to come to
room temperature and rise. At lower temperatures, the yeast produces
a complex yeasty flavor that is very good.
• Pizza dough
that is just a bit on the wet side is easier to work with and makes
a nicer crust.
can be anything you want them to be. Measurements don’t count
though less is usually better. Experiment with some of your favorite
• Olive oil
makes a much nicer pizza crust than vegetable oil.
• If you
are having trouble cutting your pizza with a knife or pizza wheel, grab
the kitchen shears.