Pizza at Home – My Two Cents

Pizza dough is remarkably simple to make yet “perfect” dough can be elusive due to the lack of technique and improper tools.  So here are my two cents…

1.  Equipment

  • Buy a Baking Stone that is at least an inch thick and large enough to accomodate pizza and bread.  I always recommend going a bit larger than you would think for a few reasons:  a large stone retains heat and provides a bigger target for you to place your pizza/bread upon.
  •  Invest in a pizza peel.  I personally favor the stainless steel version.  It’s strong, thin, and easy to store next to the refrigerator.
  • Parchment Paper is the best “cheat” I’ve ever used.

2.  Technique

  • Proper hydration of the dough is crucial, so follow the recipe exactly unless you are a master breadmaker.
  • I use two recipes:  Jim Lahey’s No Knead or the one from FornoBravo.com
  • Learn how to stretch/toss the dough.  It may look a little hard at first, but it’s quite easy and makes for a wonderfully thin crust.  Mind the ceiling fan!  Here’s a great video of the technique: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWL__9yDu8I
  • HOT Oven.  Crank it up as hot as it goes.  500 to 550 depending on the make and model.  After preheated give your stone at least 30 minutes to get up to temperature.
  • CHEAT: Place parchment paper on your peel.  Place the dough on the parchment paper and assemble your pizza.  Place in the hot oven and after a minute or two of cooking you can quickly reach in and pull out the parchment paper while using the peel to lift up the pizza about an inch.  **NOTE** Make sure you remove it after a few minutes otherwise it will brown and possibly ignite.  Kitchen fires = Lame!

3.  Quality Ingredients

  • The Dough.  I find that using the extra fine 00 flour makes all the difference in the world.  If you like thin dough with a wonderful texture I have had great success with Farino di Grano Tenero Tipo 00.
  • Don’t use canned sauce.  Build your own!  It’s cheap and quick and you can tailor the flavor to your own preferences.  My personal recipe is something like this:
    – 1 Can or Tetra Pak of quality tomatoes.  I like Pomi Chopped Tomatoes.
    – 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
    – 2 TBSP Olive Oil
    – Pinch of red pepper flakes
    – Oregano, Fennel Seed, Salt & Pepper
    Saute the garlic in the olive oil until fragrant (a minute or two).  Add the tomato, S&P, red pepper flakes and herbs.  Simmer until flavors meld ~15 minutes.  Cool and use!
  • The Cheese – Mozzarella.  Fresh if possible, as it melts so much better and has a lovely texture and flavor.
  • Fresh Vegetables!  Be creative, but don’t use anything canned!!
  • Flavorful meat with a focus on quality over quantity.
  • Fresh Basil – for garnish

Pizza is a wonderful invention and there’s no reason you can’t make a wonderful version at home.

Cheers!

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