By Aly Walansky – Contributor
Pizza is among the most beloved of foods, and is enjoyed in various forms across the world.
It’s also one of the more popular choices for eating out or ordering delivery, but as many people are avoiding these options and cooking more at home, it’s a great time to learn to make pizza in our own kitchens.
Gratefully, it’s all about sourcing a few high-quality ingredients. From there, it’s a simple recipe that is easily customized with whatever your favorite toppings may be! So go cheesy, go meaty, it’s your pizza!
Good flour is the perfect foundation
The secret to a good homemade crispy crust is 00 flour. “It is more than a secret,” said chef Silvia Baldini, founder of Strawberry and Sage. This flour, says Baldini, is the first commandment for making Italian pizza. “During the rest, the dough’s gluten is strengthened enough for the crust to support the toppings and to yield a great crispy bite but still have a tender crumb,” said Baldini.
Keep it simple
Making pizza is an act of love and simplicity, believes Baldini. No need for fancy equipment or overly complicated ingredients. Just a little elbow grease.
Use quality ingredients
Pizza ingredients are inherently not expensive but quality counts! “Buy all natural ingredients, like using San Marzano Tomatoes as a basic sauce,” said Donatella Arpaia, celebrity chef and owner of Prova Pizzabar.
For example, Arpaia’s cheese of choice is Galbani. “It’s all natural with no artificial whiteners and it melts beautifully,” she said.
Great crust is essential
You may love pizza with olives or mushrooms, but it’ll be the great crust that keeps you coming back. “In order to get that brick oven crunch we all love you have to cook at high temperature,” said Efrem Yates, a franchise owner of multiple Your Pie locations in North Carolina.
Pizza likes it hot – really hot!
This means preheating your oven to 500 degrees. “This ensures that you get the ‘brick oven’ taste and feel – even when you don’t have one to use in your kitchen at home,” said Yates.
Add toppings sparingly
Go lighter than heavier on cheese and toppings. You can always add more if you need. “Too many toppings can make the pizza harder to work with and also add moisture, which could make the dough soggy,” said Emily Hyland, co-founder of the popular Emmy Squared and Emily pizza restaurants.
Keep things even
Top the surface of your pizza landscape nice and evenly. “Be mindful not to condense toppings to the middle,” said Hyland. An even and neatly topped pizza will maximize the amounts of toppings you taste in each bite!
Stay away from the edges
Leave an inch border around pizza to avoid sauce dripping over, advised Arpaia.
Make the dough two days ahead of time and let it sit in the refrigerator. “Punch down after the first day then ball up a 20 oz dough ball and place it back in the fridge overnight again,” said Dave Anoia, executive chef and owner of DiAnoia’s Eatery and Pizzeria Davide.
To make the process easier, Anoia advises having your dough made up two days ahead of time, any toppings you are using have partially cooked off (onions, mushroom, peppers) will take some of the water out of them and it makes sure the pizza will not turn soggy.
Let it rest
When finished cooking, let the pizza cool for a minute or two before you cut it, cautions Anoia. This will allow the cheese to stay together and won’t fall off the pizza as easily.
Cut with confidence
If using a pizza wheel, Hyland advises taking one strong stroke down and through for each cut — no sawing like you are cutting through a 2×4.
According to Baldini, making a great pizza at home is about some simple ingredients that are easy to source.
Baldini’s Basic Pizza Dough:
Servings: 4/6 people
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Passive Time: 1 hours
- 2 cups 00 flour
- 1 cup of water that is at room temperature
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 package of active dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp salt
- Mix the sugar and the yeast in a small container, then add one teaspoon of the water.
- Put all the ingredients in a Kitchen-Aid bowl. Use a dough hook and work the dough for 5 to 7 minutes on high, until smooth.
- Take the dough out of the metal bowl, form a ball and place on a wooden board. Cover with a glass bowl and proof for one hour. Until doubled.
- Proof in a warm space, usually in my turned off oven.
From there, it’s all about adding your sauce and preferred toppings!
Baldini’s method for baking the pizza:
- Adjust oven rack to second highest position (rack should be about 4 to 5 inches below broiler), heat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Using hands, gently stretch the dough, working along edges and giving quarter turns as you stretch. Transfer dough to an oiled baking sheet and keep stretching with the tips of your fingers until you reach the borders. Using the back of a spoon or ladle, spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce in a thin layer over the surface of dough, leaving 1/4-inch border around the edge. Add olive oil, oregano and other toppings. Except the mozzarella.
- Slide pizza carefully in the oven and bake until the crust is beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pizza halfway through. Remove pizza and add mozzarella. Put back in the oven and cook until the cheese starts bubbling, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven add herbs and cured meats if desired and place on a wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Stock up your home-pizza arsenal with items like these:
For the low-carb crowd: Cali’flour’s plant-based cauliflower pizza crust