You don't need to be an expert to make great pizzas. My 10 tips for pizza will help you make homemade pizza that's better than a store-bought pizza. They are simple tips and tricks that I have learned over my years of bread baking and I believe you will find them useful.
I make pizza at home once every two weeks and it's usually on a Thursday, because our weekend starts on Friday. We call it 'Pizza Thursday'. Like most kids, both my babies love pizza.
The only reason we can afford to eat pizza every two weeks is because it's homemade. I know exactly what goes into my kids' pizza. The pizza dough is homemade and my tomato sauce is also homemade, so, I'm in control of what ingredients and how much cheese is on that pizza.
About homemade pizza
Over the years, bread baking has become very close to my heart. I find it very therapeutic to knead the dough by hand. While we also buy bread from the bakery, I have never purchased or used store-bought pizza dough. For me, it's just homemade pizza dough and homemade tomato sauce or no pizza at all.
The great thing about pizza dough, is that you can make one that you knead and use in an hour or you can make no-knead pizza dough, which works best if left overnight. So, for me, why buy?
With my many years of baking homemade bread, I have learned a few tips and tricks that have helped me make my homemade pizza better than a store-bought pizza.
So, today, I share my 10 tips for making better homemade pizzas with you and I hope you will find them useful.
10 tips for making better homemade pizza (pin)
1. Pizza stone
You will see a huge difference in your pizza baked on a pizza stone as compared to the baking tray. The pizza stone has the ability to draw out moisture from the dough, which means you get a nice crisp bottom pizza and crusty bread.
Buy a good quality pizza stone that will last you a lifetime. I've been using mine for over 10 years. My oven has changed but not my pizza stone. It looks really shabby because it has baked me many pizzas and bread over the years.
2. Pizza tray or peel
If possible, invest in a pizza tray or a pizza peel. That will help you transfer your pizza to and out of the oven. I have both and I can't think of making pizza without them.
These let you keep the dough soft, so you don't have to struggle with transferring the pizza from one place to the other. Soft dough means a thin and crispy pizza crust.
3. Use parchment paper instead of cornmeal
I know it's very professional to use cornmeal, but I hate the mess it leaves behind. So, I use a parchment paper. I place the parchment paper on my pizza peel and then just slide the parchment onto my pizza stone. After 8 to 10 minutes, I pull the parchment out. This helps crisp the base much better.
4. Soft room temperature dough
Keep the dough soft and elastic and make sure it's room temperature. If the dough is cold, the gluten is much stiffer, which means you won't be able to stretch the dough as easily as the room-temperature dough.
5. Preheat the oven
Preheat the oven for a good 30 minutes before you bake your first pizza. The pizza stone takes longer to heat, so while your preheat indicator may show that your oven has preheated - the stone takes longer to reach that temperature.
The reason you want your pizza stone hot is so that you get that nice bottom crust while still maintaining the softness of the dough on the inside.
6. Too much sauce and toppings
7. Choose the right toppings
Pizza toppings are great but avoid those that will make the base soggy or get burnt. Leaves, such as spinach, are better cooked first then added to the pizza. Similarly, veggies such as mushrooms give out moisture. So, while a few slices are ok, too many mushrooms will give you a very wet pizza.
8. Brush the edges with oil
Often, the pizza edges tend to stay pale even though the bottom is crisp. Brushing the edges will give a nice crisp edge, which is delicious but also looks wonderful. And if you want a crisp pizza crust, then also brush the pizza tray with oil.
9. Let the pizza base rest
After you roll the base, let the dough rest for 5 to 10 minutes. This proves the dough a little giving it that little lift. The edges get puffy and when baked it gets a nice beautiful crust. See that curst?
10. Hold on to the cheese
Do you ever find that often the cheese tends to get dark while we wait for the bottom to get crisper? This happens when you want the bottom crust to be crisper.
I don't usually do this, because I'm happy with just crisp edges and a nice soft base. However, here's a solution for you. Next time, pre-bake your pizza for 7 minutes before you add the cheese. That way you will have a crispy base and your cheese won't get brown.
Video - Homemade pizza
Ingredients and substitutes
- Flour - You can use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour - I am using plain all-purpose, which works great.
- Yeast - I'm not a slave to any particular brand, but I use instant dry yeast as compared to fresh or instant yeast. You can add the yeast directly to your flour without testing it, but I'm old school, I like to use the safe and stress-free method. Which is why I still do let my yeast activate first.
- Water - The temperature of the water you use for yeast has to be warm - not hot, nor cold. Almost the temperature of the liquid you give a baby. Approximately 105 to 115 F.
- Sugar - The sugar here is not for sweetness but to feed the yeast. This will help the yeast grow and nurture the bread. So, don't omit it, and no it will not make your dough sweet. If you don't fancy sugar, try honey or agave syrup.
- Oil - Like sugar, oil is also food for our yeast. It helps the yeast grow and develop flavor. We also use oil to brush the edges, which gives us a nice crisp edge.
- Salt - Use fine grain salt, which will dissolve in the dough easily.
Frequently asked questions
Pizza is always at it's best fresh out of the oven, but it does have a long shelf-life and can be reheated and served again.
Traditionally, tomato sauce is very common. But, I also love to use pesto, BBQ sauce, Alfredo sauce, etc.
Tomato sauce and cheese alone make a great margarita pizza. And yet, you can use many other toppings like pepperoni, pastrami, sausages, mushroom slices, spinach, artichokes, olives, onions, feta cheese.
Traditionally, mozzarella is used. Personally, I like to use a combination of mozzarella, parmesan, and cheddar or other white cheese.
You can freeze homemade pizza dough. Just punch down the dough and remove as much of the air. then place in a freezer approved zip lock bag and place in the freezer for a month or more.
To thaw, just place the bag in the fridge for a couple of hours before you need to use it. Let it come to room temperature for an hour before you use it.
You can bake the pizza, cut the slices, cool them completely before you place the slices in a ziplock bag. You can freeze these for a long time, but mine have never stayed for more than a week. They make a great snack for kids.
I often make mini pizzas and save them for the kids' school snacks. Freeze and thaw them the same way as the slices above.
To thaw, just place the slice from the freezer to the microwave. The condensation thaws into the pizza keeping it fresh. Usually, one minute on high for one slice works great for my microwave.
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