Pizza Making Tips and Tricks by Sean Lannin

A lot of factors influence will influence the results of your pizza making efforts. Primary among these factors are the pizza ingredients and pizza equipment used. The following are some pizza making tips and tricks that you can apply for the best homemade pizza.

Pizza Ingredients

The pizza ingredients that you use depend on the type of pizza that you wish to make. Moreover, you usually have to prepare three sets of ingredients: one for your pizza crust, another for your pizza toppings and another set for your pizza sauce,

” Pizza crust recipes: usual ingredients and tips

Flour is a definite necessity when making pizza crust. The usual ingredient in making the basic pizza dough is wheat flour, although whole wheat flour is also used by some. For a firm, elastic pizza dough, you’ll want to use flour with moderately high gluten content (this is also known as hard flour).

The gluten is formed when water is added to the flour and it is a crucial part of the pizza’s structure. Thus, when you make pizza crust, it is best to use bread flour or flour with especially high gluten content (check the label) which has enough gluten content for pizza making purposes. However, people who have celiac disease or those who prefer a low carb pizza crust usually opt for flour with low gluten content. Some even make gluten-free pizza in the belief that it is healthier. In any case, it is advisable to use premium-grade flour milled from first-grade wheat; the flour, moreover, should have quality protein (the flour and water mixture should be very easy to handle) and should be able to absorb a lot of water without becoming soggy and limp.

Yeast is another requirement in making the pizza base. The yeast is the leavening agent and it helps the pizza dough rise as well as helps the dough achieve elasticity (so you can stretch it into pizza rounds without breaking). Yeast and its fermentation, furthermore, give the pizza crust its distinct flavor. Unless you are using the instant dry yeast variety, you should mix yeast with warm water then let the mixture stand for around ten minutes before you use it in your pizza dough mixture. Furthermore, the best, yeasty flavor is achieved by leaving the pizza dough to rise for several hours after kneading.

The other dry ingredients that basic pizza dough has are salt, sugar, baking powder (if you need more leavening than what the yeast can provide), and dry milk. The salt is necessary to create the slightly salty taste of pizza crust which provides a great contrast to the pizza sauce flavor. Sugar, on the other hand, is added to add a slightly sweet taste to the crust as well as to facilitate yeast activity and to yield a browner pizza crust. Do not add a lot of sugar. Powdered milk or milk solids, on the other hand, adds to the dough’s bulk, adds flavor and nutrients to the pizza dough as well as gives strength to the pizza dough’s structure even if such is over-fermented. Use the non-fat variety especially if you are making low fat pizza.

The liquid ingredients include water and oil. Water is necessary for gluten generation and for activating yeast. Use slightly acidic as well as slightly hard water for best results. To ensure standard water pH, you can use distilled water (which has neutral pH) or tap water (which is usually slightly acidic, especially in cities). Oil, on the other hand, serves well to lubricate the dough for easier handling. Use extra virgin olive oil if you want it to serve more than just lubricating purposes; extra virgin olive oil also has a distinctive flavor. Olive oil, moreover, is healthy for it has lower saturation than other types of oil.

If you prefer, you can use egg white or egg yolk in your pizza dough. The egg white helps strengthen pizza dough whereas egg yolk helps soften dough. As such, you can use either depending on the type of crust you want to make. Add egg yolk, for instance, if you need to make your pizza dough softer. If you will use eggs, don’t forget to reduce the amount of water in your pizza crust recipe.

You can also add flavorings like garlic powder to your pizza dough. You can even use herbs on your dough to give it a distinct flavor. Use sourdough starter, on the other hand, if you want to make sourdough pizza.

” Pizza toppings: usual ingredients and tips

There’s not much you should know about pizza toppings. The ingredients are pretty much up to you and should depend on the type of pizza you are making. However, there are certain techniques to preparing your pizza toppings. For one, you should use fresh Mozzarella cheese when making your pizza. Moreover, you should not put the cheese on top if you need to bake the pizza for a long time; you’ll end up with burnt cheese this way.

The usual pizza toppings include pepperoni, sausages, ground beef, ham, canned tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, bacon, ham, various types of cheese, and olive oil. Other toppings include shrimp, salmon, chicken meat, anchovies, fruits, artichokes, etc.

” Pizza sauce: usual ingredients and tips

The usual pizza sauce recipes have tomato sauce. Flavor is enhanced by adding garlic and onions (whether powder or sautéed) then ground meat, salt, pepper and other usual pizza spices such as basil and oregano. Typically, tomato-based sauces are thick. On the other hand, you can make a thin pizza sauce by mixing oregano and basil with olive oil. The fastest way of making pizza sauce is by using canned pizza sauce.

You must remember to apply pizza sauce with a light hand. Thick sauce must be carefully added on top of the pizza toppings. Thin sauce must be gently rubbed over the pizza. Excessive use of pizza sauce can lead to excess moisture and thus a limp pizza.

Pizza Equipment

You can cook your pizza using a pizza pan or bake it directly on a pizza stone. If you are going to use a standard oven without a pizza stone, then stretch your pizza dough into the desired thickness on your pan, add your toppings and pizza sauce, preheat your oven and bake according to your pizza recipe. If you are using a pizza stone, cut your pizza dough, use one of the portions and stretch it into a pizza round of your desired thickness. Add your desired toppings and your homemade pizza sauce, load the pizza on your wooden peel (pizza paddle) then place said pizza round on top of the pizza stone. The pizza stone, at this point, should have been kept hot in the oven for at least an hour.

It is best to use a pizza stone for baking pizza. This leads to a crispier pizza crust for two reasons. First, it absorbs run-off and excess moisture. Second, it distributes heat from the oven evenly; thus, the pizza crust is uniformly cooked all over.

Naturally, if you want to make deep dish pizza, you have to use a pizza pan. On the other hand, you can pre-bake your deep dish pizza crust, add toppings and sauce then finish baking your pizza on a pizza stone.

A good oven with a timing device and a temperature monitor is also necessary for precise pizza baking. A wooden spoon, on the other hand, should be used for mixing the pizza dough to prevent sticking. Use a marble countertop when kneading dough for the same purpose.

After using your pizza equipment, clean each piece carefully according to the manufacturer’s instructions.