Friday, April 17, 2015

Seven Tips for Making Pizza at Home.

Seven Tips for Making Pizza at Home.

Yesterday for lunch I baked 3 pizzas (only 1 tried and true recipe) for 9 other women and you know what I worried about most? My floors in relation to 3 shedding dogs with muddy paws. My countertops and their hard water stains. My dusty wineglasses. My housekeeping-not the food.

I did NOT worry if the pizzas would turn out OK. I make pizza at home so often that I've absorbed many lessons along the way. I figured it was time to share another list of tips and tricks. For my first essay, please see my Pizza Primer.
While thinking about what activity to compare making pizza at home with, the only thing that my brain kept coming back to was breastfeeding. I realize I will be alienating at least 75% of the population with this analogy. If you've got anything better I'd love to hear it. 

#1 Do preheat your oven. A hot oven is magic with pizza dough.

I don't go crazy with the self-cleaning function like I've seen in some recipes. I'm not even sure if my oven has a self-cleaning function to be honest, though Robert Barker, in his never-ending quest for stray cheeseburgers, did show me that the oven has a Dehydrate function.
A temperature of 425 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit is hot enough, but give it a good 30 minutes to an hour at that temperature.
If that will make your house too hot--I'm working on a How To Grill a Pizza post for the summer. I've only grilled 2 pizzas [and they were amazing!] but I need more experience before I can say I know what I'm doing.

#2 Do make your dough ahead of time. Or buy premade dough. This is no time to turn into the Little Red Hen and plant the wheat. Folks just wanna eat, you know.

Making the dough early means that the flour is fully blended with the other ingredients, molecules are enrobed, and all the gluten has had time to develop and relax. [If you're not into gluten, skip to #3. I'm not experienced with GF pizza dough and won't be touching the cauliflower "pizza crust" phenomenon here.] The side benefit of making dough a day or 3 early is that you get several short kitchen sprints instead of one marathon session.

#3 Do use a piece of oiled parchment paper on which you stretch out your dough and top it all nice and pretty.

Using parchment will help you transfer your pizza into the hot oven. This one little trick is worth the price of a box of parchment paper to me. I can make my pizza look amazing and then watch it slide off the peel and onto the hot stone while staying intact. Yes, the pizza joint pros make it look easy to transfer a topped crust into the oven, but that's why they make minimum wage and I make $17/month. I have failed at this crucial step more times than I shudder to recall. Parchment paper saved my babies' ears from mama's cursing in frustration.

#4 Do use anything you think would work on a pizza. 

You never know until you try it! For yesterday's lunch I looked to the preserved vegetables (olives & artichokes in jars and Garlic Scape Pesto in the freezer) in addition to the protein leftover from previous meals (grilled chicken and Kalua pig). Since we like to eat our Kalua Pig with fresh pineapple it was a no-brainer to add some pineapple to that pizza. Boom! Done. Of course you can always make an old standby--classic flavor combinations are classic because the flavors play well together. Keeping a package of pepperoni in the freezer means I'm always up for a good pepperoni and cheese pizza when the mood strikes.

#5 Do NOT buy a pizza peel. 

If you've got a large rimless cookie sheet it will do the same thing, especially if you're following Tip#3 and using parchment paper. Now, if you love making pizza and your happy pizza eaters want to get you a gift--ask for a pizza peel! They are useful to have around. Just not necessary like a stone is necessary to me.

#6 Do ask for help/troubleshooting in the comments below or on my FB page

If something isn't working right I'd like to brainstorm ways to make your pizza-at-home experience better. Last week my friend shared that she had no need for parchment paper because she simply pulled her stone out of the oven, spread the crust on it, topped it, and returned it to the oven. Her difficulty came in removing the cooked pizza from the stone. Even though she's much faster in the kitchen than I am [so are sloths. I am slow] the stone cools down enough to cause the dough to not immediately cook when it comes in contact. If a crust is placed on a hot stone it's similar to searing a steak--it will come off easily when it's cooked through. If the stone isn't hot the toppings will be done before the bottom of the crust.

#7 Do use my Visual Pizza Recipe Index (broken down into categories of pizza dough, vegetarian, savory pizzas with fruit, and meat pizzas) for ideas. Do follow my Friday Night Pizza Night Pinterest board for pizza ideas from around the web.

I wish you pizza success.

This post is shared on What's Cookin' Wednesday


  1. I'm loving this post. Great tips. I just had that problem you referred to this week. I made a beautiful pizza on top of the cutting board and could not get it to transfer intact to the stone. Once you make the pizza on oiled parchment, what do you do next to get it on to the stone? And thanks for the comment re: the peel-- we don't have one either. Best, Dana @ Foodie Goes Healthy

    1. Dana,
      Thanks--that's an excellent question and I'm sorry I didn't cover it in this list.
      Isn't it so frustrating to have a beautiful pizza and then poof!
      I've used my cookie sheet (large, square and rimless) to transfer pizza onto the stone. I slip it under the parchment paper and slide the whole thing--toppings, crust and parchment paper--onto my hot stone.
      After 5 to 8 minutes the crust has cooked enough that I can slip the cookie sheet in between the crust and the parchment. I lift up the crust a bit and shimmy the parchment paper out from underneath.
      Then I finish baking, another 3 to 5 minutes, with the crust directly on the hot stone.
      I hope this makes sense--please let me know if it doesn't!

  2. I second Dana's question! Fun post and I followed your pinterest pizza board.

    1. Frances,
      I appreciate it! I was planning on a brat & tot pizza post for today, but just didn't have the energy to fight with the new Apple Photos system to get the photos ready for it.
      Then I got to reflecting on several of the questions the ladies asked yesterday, as well as some from friends, and sat down to write and this came out.
      I've answered Dana's question above--using a cookie sheet I chuck the whole thing into the oven and onto the hot stone for 5 to 8 minutes, then I can shimmy the parchment paper out from under the crust and finish with the crust directly on the hot stone.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. OK, are you ready for a tip via a former professional pizza maker (my husband) - if you can afford it, buy a Bakingsteel sheet (of steel) instead of a pizza stone and turn your oven up higher than 450 degrees if you can. He swears by the Bakingsteel pizza "stone" and I've seen it in action - amazing. It heats up like crazy and stays hot so the bottom of the crust gets all crispy and delicious! The only downsides are that it is heavy - and I mean hheeaavvvyy - and it stays hot for a long time, so you can't take it out of the oven for hours after you've turned it off.

    1. Laura,
      I'm intrigued by this baking steel--can I leave it in the oven full time like I do my stone? (Except at Thanksgiving when the turkey won't fit due to that extra inch of space taken up by the stone, then I need to find a place to put the hot stone since I forgot about it when I preheated the oven. Every. single. time.)
      Thanks for the tip!

  4. Not only was this post supremely helpful (along with our many FB talks), I heeded your advice when making an Asparagus Pesto Pizza last night and it turned out AH-MAZING. Thank you. I appreciate it and you.

    The hubby said next time, we should sprinkle a touch of salt and pepper on the oiled parchment paper before pressing out the crust for a little extra flavor oomph in our crust. I thought the idea was genius so I wanted to share.

    1. Meghan,
      I am so glad--thanks for letting me know these tips made you successful in the kitchen! Asparagus pesto sounds delicious. When's the recipe coming up?
      I think your spouse may be on to something--I'll try it, perhaps with a bit of Italian herb blend?

  5. Homemade pizza is something we have often in my house too. These are fantastic tips.

    1. Michelle,
      Once you go down the rabbit hole it is almost too easy not to DIY. Once we were arriving home after being gone all day. It was near dinner time. My spouse commented that we should call for a pizza. I told him I could have a pizza on the table in the hour it would take the shop to get one to us--and I did!