Thursday, May 13, 2010

Homemade Pizza Tips

After last night's impromptu mid-week pizza night (we're rebels, I know!), I decided it was necessary to share to tips and tricks of the pizza making business. This is a learned skill, I am certain. If homemade pizza weren't so incredible I would have given up after the first time I nearly destroyed the thing upon transfer or when I dropped the unbaked pizza on the oven door or when the crust wasn't cooked through.  But homemade pizza IS amazing and therefore I adopted the "try, try again" mantra. Don't give it! It's totally worth it! 
  1. Give yourself ample prep time. The recipe I use for my pizza dough yields enough for two pizzas. The bread machine whips up the dough in under 2 hours (2-3 hours if you're making perfect pizza dough by hand/mixer), so give yourself at least that much time before wanting to start the pizza process (which includes 30 minutes of oven preheating and 20 minutes of baking.) 
  2. Cut the dough in half. With one half start your pizza or place tightly wrapped in the fridge to use within 2 (or so) hours. Wrap the other half in plastic wrap and place in a zippered freezer bag to use for later. When defrosting the dough, take out of the freezer and place on the counter for at least 4 hours or in the refrigerator for close to 8 hours. 
  3. Invest in a pizza stone. This tool makes for the best homemade pizza. Though, I would love a pizza peel to make things even simpler! 
  4. PREHEAT the pizza stone to 500 degrees while you prepare the crust and toppings. This is essential to the baking process--if the stone is not preheated the toppings will be perfectly cooked but the crust will still be doughy. 
  5. Transferring the pizza to the oven. Use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat when preparing the crust. The transfer of the prepared pizza crust to the preheated ultra hot pizza stone is NOT an easy process. Believe me, I've dropped many a pizza on the oven door or ended up with a completely folded or deformed pizza thanks to a poor transfer.  
    1. lightly flour the baking mat. (the baking mat is made for the heat, so when it touches the preheated stone it will be fine!)
    2. Roll out the pizza dough and when you achieve the desired shape and size re-flour the mat and place the crust on top--being sure it can slide around easily. 
    3. Top the pizza. 
    4. Lightly pat down toppings to keep them from falling off during transfer. 
    5. Double check the mobility of the crust on the mat--shake it lightly this way and that to be sure it can slide easily onto the stone. 
    6. Open the oven door, pull out the rack holding the preheated stone. Grasp the silicone mat with pizza with both hands.  Slowly and gently shake the dough left and right to ease the pizza onto the sizzling stone.  
    7. Bake for 17-20 minutes for perfection in pizza form. 
    8. Remove the entire stone from the oven and place on a heavy duty hot pad trivet or the cooling rack it came with. 
    9. Let pizza rest 2 minutes for cheese to set. (You don't want to lose all the cheese off the slice when you make the first cut, do you?)
    10. Slice and enjoy! 
    11. When finished with the pizza stone just wipe off with a barely damp cloth and store away for next week! 

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mel. I have made pizza a couple times but tomorrow is my first time using my stone! I am excited. My mom always uses it. do you put cornmeal or flour on the stone or just nothing?
    also.. are you not supposed to use water on it? I definitely have just been rinsing it with a very wet cloth. I know not to use soap.. but is water going to ruin it?
    Also.. if I make the dough tonight should I put it in the freezer and then thaw it out for tomorrow night?