Pizza School Shows You How to Make Pizza at Home.
Start making great homemade pizza now.
It's free, it's easy and the pizza's fantastic.
The basic steps are:
Of course, there are details to each stage. But each step is logical and easy. And once you've done it a few times, it'll become second nature. Kinda like learning a dance.
I recommend you print out the Pizza School ebook as well and refer to the more detailed tips and techniques as you go-without getting flour, dough and sauce on your computer.
Now that you have your basic instructions, let's start class and learn all the great secrets that make it easy and just about foolproof to make outrageously delicious pizza.
Make the Dough
The Old-Fashioned Way to Make Pizza DoughWhen I first started making pizza, I made the dough by hand. You can find the recipe for making fantastic pizza dough by hand in minutes in the Pizza Recipe section. Or watch a video demonstration of how to make handmade pizza dough here.
So if you want to start making the best pizza you've ever had with a minimal investment, roll up your sleeves and make some dough. I find it enjoyable to connect to this age-old tradition now and then. But once you see that you can make outrageously delicious pizza at home, you may want to get really efficient and start using a stand mixer.
The Modern, Mechanized, Marvelous Way to Make Pizza DoughGreat crust is the foundation of a great pizza. Getting a stand mixer rocked my pizza world. I was able to eliminate considerable time and work, and make fantastic dough that becomes great pizza crusts. Better yet, I'm able to make enough dough for a big pizza night and still have enough dough left over to freeze and repeat the feast months later.
My measurements are based on the 5-quart capacity of my mixer. Adjust up or down in proportion if you use a larger or smaller capacity mixer. This recipe creates enough dough for four 15-inch diameter pizzas.
5 - Put the mixer on a low speed for about 20 seconds to pre-mix the dry ingredients.
As you add water, you'll see the dough start to clump together.
You can crank up the speed a notch if you get impatient, but soon the ingredients will congeal and start looking like dough...
This should give you an idea of the desired consistency. As I explained to a friend, when you touch it, it shouldn't touch you back.
As mentioned above, this recipe makes 4 large pizzas. I usually divide the dough into four equal pieces of about 15 ounces each. If you prefer smaller pies, divide it into more pieces.
Immediately freeze the dough you're not using in ziplock quart freezer bags, taking care to remove all the air from around the dough.
Now you have pizza dough on demand without making dough for a while. If you have the freezer space, you can make more than one batch of dough at a time and go even longer before you need to make more.
Let Your Pizza Dough Rise
Shape the dough for today's pizzas into a ball and place it in a bowl at least twice the volume of the dough.
Some people smear olive oil on the dough at this point to prevent its surface from drying out as it rises. At most I just bless its surface with a barely wet hand.
If you want to proceed directly to making your pizza, set the covered dough in a warm spot and let it rise until it's doubled in size. This generally takes 1 - 1-1/2 hours, depending on how warm a spot it's in. Just don't get it too hot or you'll kill the yeast. Game Over.
It’s Your Dough and You’re the Boss
I've shown you how to fine tune the consistency of your dough. Now I'll show you how to take control of its rising, too.
If your dough is behind schedule rising or thawing, here's what to do:
Pizza Dough Daycare
If I want a pizza at night, but will be out all day, I've been known to take my frozen dough with me for the day. I throw my ziplocked frozen dough in an insulated freezer bag with some blue ice.
Then I can pull it out-in my car, on my desk, into my coat pocket-and let it thaw under my watchful eye.
If it starts getting a little too uppity and the ziplock starts expanding, I throw it back in the freezer bag to chill out. My dough and I arrive home ready to make a fabulous dinner.
Things to Do While Your Pizza Dough Rises
Use this time to do the rest of your prep, so you'll be ready when your dough is.
Put the Pizza Stones in the Oven
To misquote the greatest folk-rock artist of all time, Everybody must get stones!
A pizza stone is the best way to bake a pizza in your kitchen oven.
Made of porous ceramic material, it keeps the dough dry as it bakes. It also holds heat to keep the pizza at maximum and very even temperature. (Very important since your oven thermostat switches your oven off and on.) All this ensures a classic pizza crust.
You'll notice Bob and I said stones. Even if you're only baking one pizza, having a second stone on an oven shelf above the one on which you're actually baking the pizza gives off more heat and more even heat. From above and below. It's a nice-to-have, but not a need-to-have.
See our pizza stone choices and recommendations in The Pizza Store. Then come back to class and learn more.
Spread Cornmeal over Your Wood Peel
You need to do this before you start shaping your dough into a pizza crust. Once your dough is stretched out, you'll be shifting it onto the peel, where you'll top your pizza and then slide it off the peel, into the oven.
The cornmeal acts like tiny ball bearings to prevent the dough from sticking and allows it to slide. Once you're shaping your pizza, you won't want to stop to spread cornmeal. So do it now.
Make the Sauce
You can make a great pizza sauce quickly and easily.
My Simply Fabulous Fresh Pizza Sauce Recipe is exactly that. Click on its name to check it out.
I've also found some perfectly wonderful canned sauces that work great. Trader Joe's Marinara and Marinara Toscana sauces are favorites of mine. You can adjust a good sauce into a better one by adding fresh basil or garlic, for instance. And if your sauce spreads too thin, just add some tomato paste.
Stay on Top of Your Toppings
Thaw, slice, grate your ingredients ahead of time so they're ready to distribute as soon as your dough is ready to receive them.
Punch it down.
When the dough has doubled in size, dust your knuckles with flour and firmly push your fist into the dough until the dough is almost back to its original size.
Dust your hands with flour and pull the punched-down dough out of its bowl, onto a large working surface that's also dusted with flour. Form it into a round disk. Starting at its center, push down with the palms and heels of both hands to spread and flatten the disk.
Gently, firmly, and not too suddenly take hold of an edge of the dough disk and pull it a little wider. Rotate it a bit and pull again. Work your way around the disk a few times, always keeping all surfaces dusted with flour. You can also press some more with your palms to help thin and expand the disk.
When you've pressed and stretched the dough to a quarter-inch thickness, dust its top, gently turn it over, and dust this newly exposed side. Then roll it out even thinner with a rolling pin.
Besides getting your dough thinner, the rolling pin also helps keep or restore an even thickness to the dough. This helps you avoid thin spots that could become holes or tears.
NOTE: Some pizza snobs turn their noses up at rolling pizza dough. They say pressure is a no-no. Of course, they've also leaned on the dough with their palms. At any rate, just in case they have a point, I end the pizza's shaping stage with a few final tugs.
At this stage you can roll a dough docker lightly over the dough. This accomplishes two things. It pops any large bubbles in the dough that might get really large while baking and cause the pizza to make unevenly.
Docking also creates a texture for toppings to adhere to. Another nice-to-have. You can pick one out right now at The Pizza Store.
Stretch It Some More
Gently ease the dough onto your dusted knuckles (never your fingertips). Gravity will stretch the dough some more. You'll be able to see some light through the dough at this point.
As with the last few steps, rotate the pizza dough to keep its thickness and diameter even.
You may want to skip this step at least for your first few pizzas, until you get a good feel for the dough.
When you've shaped your dough close to its final thickness and diameter, shift it onto your already cornmeal-dusted wood peel.
ALWAYS get the dough onto the peel before you add toppings! The added weight and wetness of the toppings will make it very difficult to slide the shaped dough onto the peel-and at the same time your carefully arranged toppings will get sloppily rearranged.
Shape It a Bit More
Once you've shifted the dough onto the peel, stretch it just beyond the edge of your peel. Then roll up the edges to form the outer crust. This raised edge helps contain the toppings as you slide your pizza in and out of the oven. It also lends structural support to slices so you can pick them up.
Now add your favorite toppings. And do it as fast as you can so the dough doesn't have time to overcome the cornmeal barrier and stick to the peel.
For this particular pizza I've added some thin slices of provolone cheese first.
Spread the sauce, not too thickly and wetly. A flat-bottomed ladle called a spoodle helps with this by pre-measuring the sauce and giving you a flattened, yet rounded tool to spread it. We've rounded up some spiffy spoodles just for you.
Distribute ingredients evenly to get an evenly baked pie. Grating the cheeses helps. If you can get fresh or Buffalo Mozzarella, that's wonderful. But pre-grated works fine. Romano and Parmesan are two of my faves. But it really depends on your taste and what other toppings you're bringing together in your own symphony of highlights and harmonies.
Finish with a swirl of olive oil to blend the elements further. You'll find topping suggestions and combinations in the Recipe section. And you're welcome to share your own inspirations on our Homemade Pizza Blog.
Slide It In
Now you're ready to slide the pizza off the peel and onto the stone in the oven.
Hold the pizza on the peel over the stone. A few quick, small jack-and-forth jerks of the peel will set the pizza in motion. As soon as it's freely sliding, tilt and aim your pizza toward the far side of the stone at the back of the oven.
As the pizza slides off and touches the hot stone at the back of the oven, you'll then, with another jiggle or two, be able to slide the peel the rest of the way out from under the pizza.
If I'm cooking for more than one hungry person, or for a variety of preferences, I'll make two pizzas. If you want to serve them at the same time and be able to sit down with everyone else, you'll want to have two wood peels so you can build and bake two at the same time. And two stones in the oven. (Okay, I confess, I actually have three wood peels so I'm prepared for larger gatherings or in case I want to have a wider selection to offer my guests.)
Is It Pizza Yet?
Don't stray too far from the oven once you've slid your pizza in. Since your oven's on maximum heat, and the pizza's sitting on hot stone, it'll be done in a matter of minutes.
One sign that your pizza's ready is when the cheese bubbles. That's usually pretty much perfection. If you go much longer, the top may brown.
Scoop It Out
While a wood peel stays drier and works better for building your pizza and sliding it into the oven on a bed of cornmeal, a metal peel is much thinner and therefore easier to slide under the pizza when it's done. You'll only need one of these. And, in fact, you can get by with using your wood peel instead.
Just slide your peel under your pizza, pull it out of the oven, and slide it onto a surface that can withstand the pizza's high heat and won't be damaged when you slice it into wedges.
A cutting board or pizza tray works best.
You can grab a metal peel off The Pizza Store's Peel Rack now.
There's more than one way to slice a pizza. Most people's first thought is the wheel type of pizza cutter. These can work well.
But I prefer Rocker Knives.
Why? What if one pizza has two halves with different toppings? What if the person who requested the black olive and onion half can't stand the pepperoni on the other half? If the same portion of the blade rolls through pepperoni and then keeps rolling into black olive territory, you have a problem.
Rocker knife blades range from 18 to 22 inches. So the full diameter of the pie gets sliced by a clean blade. Problem solved.
Serve It with Pride
Now that you've created a great pizza in your own kitchen, you might want to give a little thought to how you serve it.
One advantage of delivering your creation out of your oven onto a pizza tray is that you then have a convenient and attractive way to slice and serve your work of art.
And you may want to deliver your sliced pizza to the dinner table without scorching the table or crowding your fellow diners. A Pizza Stand solves that problem well.
So now you know how to make great pizza at home and serve it in style. Congratulations on completing the class. A little practice and you'll be able to say, "The best pizza's at my house."
Better yet, you'll be right.
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