There is one obvious stumbling block when it comes to making authentic pizza at home, and that’s something found in commercial kitchens rather than most residential kitchens: a wood-fired pizza oven.
These brick or clay ovens are capable of hitting temperatures of 900F or more. These super-high temperatures are not only responsible for the delicious crust of pizzeria pies, but they also make it possible to rack up pizzas in sixty seconds flat.
Fortunately, there are now plenty of great pizza ovens you can find at reasonable prices. These will closely replicate the conditions of commercial pizza ovens without dominating the whole kitchen and without the ruthless price tag.
I. Some Guidelines for Making Pizza at Home
Before we give you a step-by-step guide to making pizza, some general guidelines to improve your overall experience and the quality of the pie on your plate.
- Consider using a pizza stone
- Always preheat the oven so it’s scorching when you slide your pizza inside
- Use some cornmeal to lightly dust your pan
- Less is more when it comes to toppings
- Think about baking a homemade crust
- Get the dough right and prepare it properly
- Deep pan pizza needs cooking differently
Consider using a pizza stone
Using a pizza stone will help give your homemade pizza an added edge with a crust like you get in your favorite pizzeria. The best pizza stones are highly porous, and they also boast outstanding heat retention. This means as soon as you pop your pie into the oven, it’s greeted by the sizzling hot surface you need to start immediately crisping the crust.
If you don’t have a pizza stone, you could get away with using a thin metal pan instead so you impart the crispy crust you’re looking for.
Always preheat the oven so it’s scorching when you slide your pizza inside
Always preheat your pizza oven to a minimum of 425F. You could ratchet the temperature up to between 450F and 500F, depending on the size and thickness of the pizza, as well as the toppings.
You need this preheated oven as the crust of the pizza needs to bake and brown rapidly. A slow oven fails to force enough moisture from the crust, rendering it soggy and unappetizing.
Use some cornmeal to lightly dust your pan
When you’re rolling out your crust, grab some cornmeal and give the pan or the work surface a light dusting to further crisp the crust. Flour won’t have quite the same impact. When you use cornmeal, you’ll also impart a nutty sweetness to your pizza.
Less is more when it comes to toppings
Thin crust pizzas in particular are not substantial enough to hold lots of toppings.
If you’re baking a 12-inch pizza, all you’ll need is half a cup of tomato sauce, a cup of veggies, and a cup of cheese will make a lip-smacking thin crust pie.
Think about baking a homemade crust
A homemade crust will always taste better than refrigerated pizza dough.
Premade doughs are typically soft and wet, and you’ll often struggle to achieve a decent crisp with these.
Get the dough right and prepare it properly
If you’re making your own dough, ensure you spend at least ten minutes kneading it.
You’ll find pizza dough responds best to being refrigerated overnight and then brought up to room temperature the following day before baking.
Deep pan pizza needs cooking differently
Remember that deep dish pizzas need baking at a slightly lower temperature, and they also need baking for longer. The crust is not pre-baked on deep dish pies.
So, assuming you take these pointers in mind, you’re ready to make some homemade pizza the easy way.
II. Making Pizza from Scratch
- Get the surface right
- Making the dough
- Topping and baking your pizza
Get the surface right
Before anything else, thoroughly clean the work surface. Once it’s dry, load on some flour and then mix up some warm water, salt, and sugar along with some yeast in a mixing bowl. If you use warm water – but not above 135F – this will help the yeast to react properly.
Making the dough
- Form a large and high-walled well in the center of the flour
- Add one-third of your water
- Use a fork to bring in the flour from the middle while still retaining the well shape
- Slowly add the rest of the water until you form a sticky dough
- Knead and work your dough for 10 minutes. This helps to release all of the proteins in the flour, and it makes the end product stretchier and stronger
- Transfer your dough to a greased bowl
- Fold the dough into itself several times
- Cover it with some plastic wrap and allow the dough to double in size. This should take an hour or so
- Divide your pizza dough into balls using roughly 7oz per portion
- You now need to form your dough into mini rounds before the final prove. Using both of your hands together in a scissor movement, bring the edges of your palms so they meet
- Put your dough balls onto a lightly dusted baking tray. Make sure they are evenly spaced with at least an inch between each dough balls. Once the balls have expanded enough to touch each other, you’re ready to roll
- Using a pizza peel will help you to more easily remove the dough balls once they are done
Topping & baking your pizza
Dust a baking tray with some flour or semolina and place your pizza base onto this. Alternatively, you could use a pizza stone.
Use a flat-bottomed ladle to spread an even covering of sauce onto your base. If you don’t have one of these, use the back of a large tablespoon to spread the sauce across the whole pie.
When it comes to adding your toppings, remember to exercise a light touch. You should put your toppings where the sauce on the base is thinnest to reduce the final overall weight of the pizza, making it easier to transfer it to the oven.
As outlined above, one of the keys to baking great pizza at home is to ensure the oven is sufficiently preheated and as hot as you can get it. Minutes later, you could be eating delivery-style pizza without the cost.
III. What to Do With Leftover Pizza Dough
If you find yourself with any leftover pizza dough, check out our guide to freezing pizza dough.
Alternatively, use the dough remnants to make some breadsticks or dough balls. Just smear some oil onto a baking sheet then space the dough remnants into shapes an inch apart. Bake this in a hot oven so they become crispy and golden. Top with black pepper, sesame seeds, and dried chili. Achieve this by brushing the balls with some egg white and then sprinkling these toppings over.
If you arrived here today with no idea about making pizza at home, you should now see it doesn’t take too much time or effort, and you don’t need to be a pastry chef either.
Stick with the pointers above and you’ll be making pizza dough laden with fresh topping of your choice at home the easy way. All you’ll need is a pizza cutter to streamline serving and you’re good to go.
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