Pizza for Today’s Pie Lover


Pizza made at home is better than just about any you buy at a pizzeria. Give it a try!

By FamilyTime

 

Nowadays, pizza has moved far beyond tomato sauce with extra cheese. Home cooks make their own crust and devise toppings that include ingredients such as spicy Italian sausage, sundried tomatoes, fresh spinach, roasted garlic, mashed potatoes, goat cheese, Asiago cheese, mozzarella cheese, caramelized onions, fresh herbs, sliced zucchini, Swiss chard, pancetta, prosciutto, clams, oysters, roasted peppers, ripe olives…the list is nearly endless!

If you want to try your hand at making pizza, here are a few tips:

Start with good dough: You can make this yourself — it’s an easy yeast dough that requires some careful handling — or you can buy raw pizza dough in the supermarket or specialty store. Some pizzerias sell it, too.

Form the dough into a ball and roll it in a bowl oiled with olive oil. Wrap the oiled dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Put the oiled lump of dough on a work surface and press gently with your palm on it, forming it into a disk. Use your fingertips to shape the dough and if they stick to it, dip them in flour. Press the dough into a circle — it can be a rough circle — that is big enough for your topping. Most pizzas measure about 14 inches in diameter.

Some pizza cooks lift the circle of dough by draping it over their fist and letting gravity stretch it. This requires a little practice and you will have to tug lightly on the dough with your fingers.

If the dough seems resistant to being pulled into a thin crust, leave it alone for 10 or 15 minutes. This resting will reinvigorate the dough.

Once you have formed the crust, make sure there are no tears in it. If so, patch them with extra dough or by smoothing the dough together.

Put a pizza stone or ceramic baker’s tile in the bottom of the oven: These will absorb and hold heat and create radiant heat similar to that in a traditional baker’s oven. Many pizza cooks like to bake the pizza directly on the pizza stone; the stone absorbs the moisture in the crust and insures a super crusty, crispy result.

Get the oven nice and hot: Professional pizza ovens get to temperatures far hotter than home ovens can reach. The hottest most ovens get is 500°F. and you should preheat the oven to that temperature.

For some pizzas the crust is baked for 15 minutes or so before it’s topped with other food and returned to the oven for a short time. Other pizzas, particularly those with moist toppings, are cooked with the toppings on them from the onset.

Regardless of how you plan to top the pizza, do not overload the pie: A heavy load will make the pizza hard to cut and to eat — and may very well result in a soggy crust.

If you plan to bake the pizza in a metal pan or on a baking sheet, sprinkle cornmeal on the pan. This prevents sticking and the cornmeal absorbs moisture from the dough as it cooks.

A baker’s peel is extremely useful for would-be pizza chefs: These long-handled, thin metal or wooden paddles make transferring the pizza in and out of the oven a breeze. Otherwise, the only tool you may need to buy is a pizza wheel for cutting the pie into slices.

Enjoy the effort! You will be a hero with your kids and your friends when you start pulling fabulous pizzas from the oven. Who doesn’t love pizza?