Homemade pizza recipes often ignore the limitations of home equipment and store-bought ingredients, resulting in mediocre pizza. But with the following key factors, a better result can be realized at home!
When using pizza stones, a thicker stone absorbs more heat, providing the dough its initial rise and airy, bubbly texture. Three-quarter-inch thick pizza stones can be purchased online at Forno Bravo and locally in the Puget Sound area at Metropolitan Market . One-inch slabs of cordite (material used in professional ovens and pottery kilns) can be custom cut and purchased at Seattle Pottery Supply.
Pizzas bake best in high temperature ovens. Most home ovens have a maximum temperature of 500° F to 550° F. However, the oven temperature setting can be increased by 35° F whether the oven has traditional dial or electronic controls. Read your oven’s owner’s manual or go to Appliance411 FAQ for step-by-step instructions. This seemingly small temperature increase results in pizzas that bake in as little as seven minutes with the characteristic charring on the crust bottom.
Flour and dough hydration make a difference in quality pizza crust. Commercial-grade Pendleton Pizza Blend flour can be purchased in 50 pound bags for $13 at Cash N Carry in Seattle’s SODO District. The Pendleton pizza flour contains an enzyme that assists in the rise and texture of the pizza crust during baking. Use dough recipes with at least 60% water to flour ratio. Mix about ¾ of the total flour with all of the water called for in the recipe and let stand for about 30 minutes before adding yeast, salt, oil, and remaining flour. This simple step will result in dough that is easy to handle and that bakes into a light crust without bread-like density.
The weight and moisture content of sauce and pizza toppings can adversely affect the finished pizza crust. About a half cup of water can be removed from a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes by draining in a coffee filter-lined strainer hanging over a bowl, and refrigerated for 2 to 3 hours. The drained tomatoes are now ready to use in a pizza sauce recipe. To avoid soggy crust, use no more than ¼ cup of sauce per 14-inch pizza, and 150 to 200 grams of cheese. Lightly sautéing vegetable toppings also helps to remove excess moisture.
The assembled pizza can be difficult to handle with a traditional peel unless bench flour or corn meal is used to prevent sticking. But homemade crusts can be too dry and bitter tasting due to the excess flour or cornmeal. Resist the temptation to decrease the hydration of the dough. The water in the dough is how crust obtains its characteristic bubbly texture. Instead, high temperature parchment paper made by If You Care is available at Metropolitan Market and prevents the crust from sticking to the counter or peel when placing in the oven. The Super Peel allows a nearly foolproof way of moving the pizza from countertop to pizza stone without using bench flour or cornmeal.