Pizza Tips

1.  Make Sure the Oven Is HOT 

Most of us don’t have a woodburning oven at home.  That’s fine.  You can make great pizza in a standard home oven as long as you get it HOT.  Most home ovens will go up to 550 degrees F which is where you want it for pizza.

You also need a hot surface to place the pizza on. While preheating the oven, place a pizza stone, some quarry tiles, or an overturned jelly roll pan on the oven racks.  

2.  Keep the Dough Warm

If you’ve made the dough right before preparing the pizza, you’ll be fine as it will be the right temperature just after rising.  If you made it earlier and refrigerated it, or purchased premade dough, you’ll want to leave it on the counter until it reaches room temperature.  This allows the gluten to relax, making it easier for you to shape the dough without toughening it by overworking it when stretching it out.

3.  Use a Pizza Peel 

For the best crust, pizza should be cooked on a hot surface.  If you don’t have a peel, you can improvise.  Assemble your pizza on a piece of parchment paper laid on a flat cookie sheet.  When it’s ready to bake, slide the pizza onto the heated stone or pan you place in the oven in Step 1, paper and all.

4.  Stretch - Don't Roll 

Rolling it out will compress the dough and give you a tough crust.  You don’t need to toss the dough in the air, but don’t use a rolling pin, either.  Place the dough on the floured peel (or parchment paper) and pull out from the center of the dough stretching it into a circle or oval.  It doesn’t need to be perfectly uniform – just keep stretching until it is thinned to the size you want it. 

5.  Watch out for Water

Nobody likes soggy pizza, so make sure that you only use a thin layer of sauce, and precook and drain your toppings.  If you use fresh tomatoes, salt them first, and pat dry with paper towels.  Canned tomatoes should be chopped and drained of their juices; spinach, broccoli, and mushrooms sautéed and squeezed dry.  Very moist vegetables like eggplant and squash should be salted, then grilled or roasted.

Fat can cause a similar problem, so precook meats like sausage and hamburger to get rid of excess fat before it soaks into your pizza.

6.  Add Some Oil

A light brushing of olive oil around the edge of the crust adds flavor, and also helps the crust brown nicely.

7.  Cool on A Rack

When you remove the pizza from the oven, discard the parchment paper (if you used it) and place the pizza on a wire rack to allow air to circulate underneath.  That will help keep the crust crisp.


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