Help me make a good, basic pizza at home.
October 13, 2017 10:04 AM   Subscribe

I am a decent home cook and I would like to improve my homemade pizza-making skills. Can you recommend the techniques and equipment (and, perhaps, the ingredients and recipes) that will best help me do so?

I like pizza! A lot! I order it often and I've made it at home, for years, but never with much skill or panache. I'd like to make takeout-level quality pizza at home. Which techniques and equipment will help?

For context, I usually will make pizza in a rectangular baking pan, on parchment paper, with a basic homemade dough (using ordinary flour), pizza sauce from Trader Joe's, mozzarella cheese, and an assortment of mostly vegetarian toppings. It's functional, it's OK, it gets dinner on the table, my spouse and kids seem to like it pretty well, but it's certainly not fabulous. I'm convinced I can do much better!

Just in the last month, I've read questions on this very site about improving one's homemade pizza sauce and replacing a pizza stone. These questions, and others like them, and a little internet sleuthing, have opened my eyes to the dreary mundanity of my current pizza-making process and the uninspired pies that result.

I'd welcome your insights with respect to ingredients and recipes, but I'm particularly interested in learning the basic techniques and equipment for fine homemade pizza-making. Regarding equipment, I have a (U.S.) standard home gas oven. I do not presently own a pizza stone or a pizza steel, for example, and I am very open to your recommendations for either. I'm willing to spend $100-$200 on equipment.

I'm asking this question here because I frankly found and other online resources to be overwhelming for a novice!

For what it is worth, I like any and all pizza styles, but what I am thinking of is the basic American takeout type of pizza. How can I make something roughly analogous, but that is hopefully tastier, healthier, and cheaper, at home?

Thanks in advance, pizza experts of Metafilter.
posted by cheapskatebay to Food & Drink (36 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
I got a pizza peel as a gift, and love it. My process is a lazy one, but that's what makes the difference between ordering a pizza and cooking one at home.

I put some parchment paper over the peel, flour it, and roll out the dough. I use premade balls of dough because we have some local makers who are pretty good.

I preheat the oven to 525, with a pizza stone in it. If it is hot out, I'll preheat to a lower temp to heat the stone, then turn it up when I'm ready to cook.

I prep the toppings.

I then reroll the dough after having let it sit a while and relax.

I rip the parchment so it is basically exactly the same footprint as the pizza. Excess will burn, so be careful.

Slide it onto the stone, cook for 12 or so minutes, maybe turning it 180 degrees halfway if I'm feeling less lazy.

The end. It comes out great, technique-wise, in my opinion, but the toppings can still make it way better. I'll be watching this thread with interest!
posted by papayaninja at 10:18 AM on October 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Food Lab has tons of good pizza info, for a wide variety of styles. Maybe start with their New York Style or Three Doughs to Know. It's pretty different, but the Foolproof Pan Pizza is great too.
posted by primethyme at 10:20 AM on October 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

It's not standard American takeout pizza (it's a lot more standard in mid-Atlantic), but it's bonkers good. Baking pan puts me in mind of this Sicilian pizza technique/recipe. If you can swing the pre-prep, doing a no-knead dough with a cold ferment is a fantastic investment. (You can freeze balls of dough after the cold ferment too.)

Seconding the Foolproof Pan Pizza.
posted by supercres at 10:22 AM on October 13, 2017

Also seconding buying dough from non-chain takeout places. (Also great for doing garlic knots or breadsticks.) Way cheap (ours is like $3 for a large portion) and the cheese, sauce, and toppings we put on are all much much better.
posted by supercres at 10:25 AM on October 13, 2017

Food lab is a good start. I make a pretty damn fine pizza in my gas oven with heavy input from that.

1. Pizza Steel.
2. Crank the oven as high as it will go.
3. High hydration dough, very little yeast, long ferment at room temp. Like over night. Will also add some whole wheat to the mix, but that's Pizza 102.
4. Sauce is just hand crushed and strained whole peeled tomatoes and salt. less is more.
5. less Cheese than you think you need
6. Be thoughtful about when you put toppings on the pie. Somethings benefit from getting rendered and crispy. Some things dont. Something benefit from par cooking ( alot of veg).
posted by JPD at 10:31 AM on October 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Try making your pizza in a cast iron pan.
posted by xyzzy at 10:33 AM on October 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

#1 thing I can suggest is trying a long slow cold ferment. Ie: leave the dough in the fridge for 2+ days. 5 days works but is probably too much.
posted by Nelson at 10:36 AM on October 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

So this is pricier than you want right now but maybe it'll go on sale at some point.

My friend, who is currently a professional chef, is on a quest to make the perfect at-home pizza and she says the thing has changed her life (w/r/t making pizza at home, let's not get carried away here).
posted by cooker girl at 10:36 AM on October 13, 2017

I rip the parchment so it is basically exactly the same footprint as the pizza. Excess will burn, so be careful.

I usually rotate the pizza after the crust has set (3ish minutes) and slide the parchment out at the same time. You get a better bottom crust and don't need to worry about burning paper (although some will scorch in the first 3 minutes, obviously).

A pizza stone / steel / whatever is non-negotiable. Screens don't work.

Especially if you're using vegetable toppings (which are very wet), you will want to take care to get them as dry as possible; this might mean pre-cooking things like mushrooms or zucchini which will turn your pizza into a soupy puddle on top while it burns on the bottom. I frequently use frozen spinach and always, always defrost and squeeze it completely dry before topping the pizza. There is tons of water in most vegetables.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:01 AM on October 13, 2017

I have begun using the pizza dough recipe from Milk Magazine (Christopher Kimball’s new venture)- it’s a cold fermented dough and it’s awesome. I don’t have a stone or steel either, but I put a large sheet pan upside down in the oven to heat and then I stretch my dough on a piece of foil and put the foil & dough on the preheated pan. Works great.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 11:06 AM on October 13, 2017

If you have a gas grill that's also a very tasty option for pizza! You oil the grill grate well, grill one side til the dough is set, then flip and add toppings and cook til it's fully baked. Summertime staple in our house.
posted by brilliantine at 11:19 AM on October 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

* pulls up chair and sits down *

On a vaction in Italy, I took one of those cheeseball cooking classes that some cooking schools do for tourists, focusing exclusively on making pizza and gelato. Here's what I can advise.

* The texture of the flour made a difference, they said. Softer wheat is usually better. I don't remember how this translates in terms of what you can get at the supermarket, and it's not like all-purpose flour would make your pizza blow up or anything. But if you live near a fancy-ass kitchen store, maybe ask someone there about what they'd recommend for softer wheat and they can steer you the right way. but this is hardly essential.

* Speaking of fancy-ass kitchen stores - I went to one in my 'hood to ask for a pizza stone, but they suggested getting a few oven stone tiles instead - they were just tiles made of the same material as a full-size stone. I got about six and it was slightly cheaper than a stone, in fact. They recommended going this route because I could then change the arrangement in my oven, use fewer for a smaller pizza, use them for other things, etc.

* Yes to the rolling out the dough on parchment paper. I also got a pizza peel, and I have rolled the dough out on the paper, made my pizza, then slid it onto the peel and slid the whole thing into the oven like that. I don't worry too much about whether there is paper overhang because the pizza's only in the oven for 5 minutes or so.

* For sauce, all we used at the cooking school was tomato puree cooked down slightly, with a little salt. That was it. I recommend that - just get a can of tomato puree, dump it into a pot and leave it on the stove about 15 minutes or so, then sprinkle in some salt and you're done. It's simple, it's basic, and it lets the other toppings shine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:27 AM on October 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've tried like all the Kenji dough recipes and a bunch of others, and the overnight refrigeration does make a great dough, but my go-to when I want (relatively) last minute pizza is his Detroit Pan Pizza dough. It's high-hydration and sticky as hell, but it's ready in a couple of hours.

I also have two peels and a baking steel, but I've just started using a 12 inch cast-iron pan, which is way easier... I heat up the pan for a bit, dump in the rolled out dough, put the toppings on as the bottom cooks for a few minutes, then into a 500 oven.

I cook mostly without oil and this works with just a tiny bit of Pam in the pan.
posted by Huck500 at 11:45 AM on October 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm probably gonna repeat what other people say, but here's my technique.

Make pizza dough; I wouldn't do anything fancy here. It should contain bread flour, water, salt, yeast, and olive oil (NO sugar!). You must use a scale to weigh your ingredients. Tweak your ratio based on how humid it is where you are. I find King Arthur Bread Flour to be excellent. Don't use grocery store yeast, use a better yeast. I use a Kitchen Aid mixer to mix the dough for 15-20 minutes; every few minutes knead the dough by hand for a few turns to make sure that the dough gets mixed evenly by the mixer.

Use a scale to weigh your dough. Split your big dough ball into ~300gr balls (ie if you have a 1010gr ball make three 337gr smaller balls). Put a few drops of olive oil into quart ziplock bags for each of your dough balls, roll the bags under your hands to coat the inside of the bag with oil. Put each smaller balls of dough into it's own bag. Try to not have too much air in the bags.

Put the dough bags into the fridge for a minimum of 24 hours; 48 hours is better though. At 4 or 5 days the dough starts to get kinda funky, do some experiments to get your ideal cold rise time. Check the pizza dough every 24 hours; you may have to burp the ziplock bags. (If you have a bag of dough that gets too funky [7 days or so, not 4 months] you can knead it into your next batch of pizza dough, and reduce the cold rise time.)

An hour or two before you want to cook the pizza throw your pizza steel (100% totally worth it, buy one) in the oven (or just leave it in the oven) and turn the heat on your oven to maximum. Don't open the oven door during the preheat.

Take canned whole tomatoes (home canned if available) and put them on the stove top for half an hour and boil off some of the water. Add a bit of rosemary, a bit of oregano, pepper, and salt. Don't overpower the tomato flavor.

Half an hour before you want to cook your pizza take your ziplocks of dough out of the fridge, and allow them to warm up slightly. Be very gentle, the gluten in the dough is very relaxed; you want it to stay relaxed.

Take your pizza peel and sprinkle corn meal on it. You want a even dusting of corn meal. Too much isn't a huge deal. Gently let a ball of dough slide out of one of the ziplock bags; catch the dough ball and let gravity stretch the ball of dough, scoot your hands around the edge of the dough letting gravity enlarge the ball into a round of pizza dough. The less you push and prod the dough the easier it is to manipulate because the gluten will stay relaxed. Also, the less you manipulate the dough the more bubbles will remain in the dough. Once the pizza is 2/3s of it's final size lay it down on the pizza peel. Give the pizza peel a shake or two and make sure the pizza slides easily around on the peel. If it doesn't slide throw a bit more cornmeal under the sticky areas. Go around the edge of the dough, and pick up a bit of the dough and pull it out stretching the dough, repeat all the way around the edge of the dough several times until your pizza is an appropriate size. Repeat the pizza peel sliding test.

Top the pizza with the sauce you made. Slice 1/8th thick pieces of the cheapest mozzarella (don't use pre-grated) you can buy at the grocery store and cover the top of the pizza with your mozzarella. Cheap mozzarella melts beautifully; it's there for texture. Heavily sprinkle the top of your mozzarella with a stronger flavor hard cheese (not pre-grated parmesan); I really like to use Pecorino Romano. Throw some other stuff on your pizza if you want: pepperoni, spinach, mushrooms, etc. Drizzle a table spoon or so of good olive oil over the top of the pizza; drizzle a small amount of expensive balsamic vinegar on the pizza. The balsamic doesn't have to be real-deal-Italian-appellation, but it does need to be complex and syrupy. Repeat the pizza peel sliding test.

Slide the pizza into your blazing hot oven; turn the light on and watch the pizza cook. During the last minute or so of cooking turn the broiler on. Watch the pizza the whole time the broiler is on. I find something like 6 minutes total cook time with the broiler on for about 45 seconds to be ideal for my oven. Take the pizza out and put it on a wire cooling rack for a few minutes before you cut it.

The second pizza you cook will take a couple minutes longer.
posted by gregr at 11:59 AM on October 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

Pizza dough:
20 oz. bread flour--important for a good, chewy crust.
12 oz. water
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 oz. olive oil

Weigh out your flour, pour the water on top, add the salt, sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and wait until it dissolves. Don't worry about the temperature of the water. I've done this with cold tap water and it works fine. Combine using hands or mixer. Knead a good long time--10 minutes by mixer, much more by hand. You want to have a smooth, elastic dough. Leave it to double (usually an hour, hour and half), then roll it out. If you're having trouble rolling it thin, let it rest for ten or so minutes.
cribbed from Ratio by Michael Ruhlman
Makes two large pizzas. Can be refrigerated for a couple of days or frozen for a while. Allow to come to room temperature before using.

Cut a whole bunch of tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven until jammy. Use instead of sauce. Amazing. Also freezes well.

Use low-moisture mozzarella

Preheat your oven to Very Hot (I aim for 450). If you don't have a pizza stone/tiles, flip a rimmed baking sheet over and bake on the bottom of it.
posted by carrioncomfort at 12:49 PM on October 13, 2017

Nthing the recommendation for the Foolproof Pan Pizza. I get probably the most consistently awesome results out of this recipe at home than any other one I've tried (though I haven't invested in a pizza stone/steel either, yet). While I definitely enjoy a good NY-style pizza, this pizza is great for lots of toppings; it'll stand up to just about whatever you might want to throw at it, and still have a crispy bottom and chewy crust. The recipe mentions finishing the crust on the stove for a minute or so, which definitely helps crisp up the bottom. The recipe doesn't state it explicitly, but you'll probably also want to let it rest in the pan for a while (at least 5 minutes) so that you don't have to deal with getting the pizza out of the scorching hot pan to cut it up.
posted by Aleyn at 1:03 PM on October 13, 2017

I'm nth-ing the recommendation for the Baking Steel. I got one two months ago and have been making incredible pizza almost daily. The only other equipment I have is an Epicurian pizza peel and a kitchen scale. Lately I've been using the 72-hour dough recipe on the Baking Steel website, it takes very little time commitment and if you make a batch every other day or so you'll always have some dough ready to use or stash in the freezer.

Before the Baking Steel I used a cast iron pan with good results, the steel makes things a bit easier.
posted by Miss Matheson at 1:33 PM on October 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I make pizza at home all the time. It is one of our go-to meals.

Instead of doing a lot of writing, I'll just piggyback on gregr's great response since it is pretty much what I do. I would add:

1) Rise time is the key to dough flavor. If we are having pizza for lunch or dinner, I will make the dough as soon as I get up and then leave it on the counter to rise. If it is for the next day, then pop it into the fridge.

2) We are a make-your-own-sauces-from-scratch household but I also use canned tomatoes for this. The texture and flavor is just perfect for pizzas.

3) I get the most gluteny flour I can find. In the UK I find that what is sold as "strong canadian flour" works best and gives you a nice stretchy pizza dough you can fling in the air if you feel like it.

4) I use fresh mozarrella but make sure to squeeze it dry first and then chop it into pieces. Without squeezing, the end pizza is too liquidy.

5) Another secret to great pizza is getting the oven as hot as you can possibly get it. If your pizzas are taking longer than 6-8 minutes to cook, your oven is not hot enough. Soon after the burn marks appear is when the pizza is done.
posted by vacapinta at 1:33 PM on October 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

This NY Times article from a few years ago has some good basic recipes and recommendations. A pizza stone is definitely worth the investment.
posted by bokinney at 1:40 PM on October 13, 2017

There's a lot of excellent advice in this thread, I'm not going to repeat any of it - except to say you'll probably need to experiment a bit to get the hang of your oven and whatever equipment you've got, and you'll probably tweak your recipe over time as your tastes/equipment/ingredients change. And that's exactly as it should be, because experimenting is fun and even a "bad" pizza is still a delicious oozy mess.
posted by parm at 2:01 PM on October 13, 2017

We do it almost exactly like papayaninja describes. One add-on trick to the parchment: we (my husband is the pizza maker, really) make it as the others have described on the parchment on the peel and put it on the stone, but then after about 5 minutes or so (once the dough has just set), we pull the parchment out and let the pizza finish cooking directly on the stone. This really helps finish the texture to the right crispiness.
posted by LKWorking at 2:11 PM on October 13, 2017

The Pizza Book really improved my game.
posted by Jode at 2:46 PM on October 13, 2017

Here's a tip I haven't seen anywhere (though, having worked at pizza places, it's hardly a "secret"):

Wetter doughs are great. They stretch beautifully, they make great pizzas, but they can be a huge pain to get into the oven in one piece. You can flour the bejeezus out of them, but then you're kind of defeating the purpose.

Here's my trick: loosely stretch it out to about the size you're looking for, and toss it down on a floured counter, uncovered. Then let it sit. Go do other ingredient prep. Before too long, the top side of your pizza dough will have dried out a bit, forming a kind of crust. Fantastic! This is now the bottom of your pizza-to-be, and it will slide around much more easily.
posted by booooooze at 2:46 PM on October 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think the single biggest bang-for-buck factor is a very hot oven. At least 450F; the hottest you can manage without injuries, setting stuff on fire, etc.

We have a baking steel still in our moving boxes so I've tried making pizza without it a couple of times. Honestly the difference wasn't as big as expected (caveat: possible other factors include "maybe our new oven is hotter" or "I was distracted"). A $200 budget will more than cover a steel and a couple peels. The shopping options have really expanded in the past few years--there are different shapes/sizes, some come extra-thick, some are designed to be put in a barbeque/grill, some have a grease groove so it doubles as a griddle, etc.--so just look up reviews and see which one appeals to you.

Toppings advice:
Use fresh herbs (basil! mmm!). Add some oregano to punch up the sauce flavor.
To prevent sogginess, load your pizza just before baking, and avoid overloading.
Don't skimp on salt and pepper.
Our favorite is a veggie thin-crust but we change up the cheese--try a little gruyere, smoked gouda, provolone...
Try interesting or unusual toppings--I like bacon + thin potato slices; or miso sauce + mushrooms; or burrata + prosciutto, both added after baking.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 3:19 PM on October 13, 2017

I make, amazing pizzas, and you may not believe this, but buying a bench top pizza maker has given my pies that could only be bettered by a woodfired pizza oven.

Conventional ovens just don't get hot enough for pizza, stones don't cut it, either. Steels are better but still not ideal. Pizza makers like those above get blisteringly hot above, and below, delivering the leoparding you want.

For these too work best, you want a higher hydration dough, somewhere between 70-75%. Sample recipe below, just increase the yeast if you want it ready faster.

500g unbleached flour with a protein content ~11% (note: more is better here)
9-10g kosher salt or sea salt (1.8 to 2%) - try with 1.8%
1g active dried yeast (0.2%) (note: don't use instant yeast)
5g barley malt syrup (1%) (note: optional but recommended)
375g water at 35c (75%)
~10g organic extra virgin oil

how to:
1. mix flour and salt
2. heat the filtered tap water to 35c, and add yeast. let this rest for 5mins, and add barley malt syrup
3. pour this on top of flour mix, and using a hand/fork to combine it or knead in your mixer until it's all combined together.
4. leave this in room temp for 24hrs. cover this with a cling film. the dough will go up 2-3times, and make sure you've enough clearance.
5. after 24hrs, add extra virgin oil to dough, and make a ball. let this rest at room temp for 2hrs.
6. on heavily dusted floured board divide the dough in 5 equal portions (~175g each) or 4 equal portions (~220g each). leave this to proof for another 2hrs. this will help you with hand stretch pizza (8-9inches). at this stage, you can freeze it for up to 3 months or in fridge for 2-3days. once you take it out from fridge leave it outside for around 2hours.
posted by smoke at 3:36 PM on October 13, 2017

My best at-home pizza trick is parbaking, which is you bake an empty pizza crust for five minutes and freeze it half-cooked and unadorned, one recipe divided into six crusts separated by wax paper. Then you can have homemade pizza without dough-making and just 'whatever is in the refrigerator' is the limit for topping. Also keep chunks of mozzarella frozen in four ounce chunks, so 'turning gooey' is not one of its options.

It's really flexible and can actually feel quite fancy when all is said and done.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:39 PM on October 13, 2017

I'm not going to claim it's authentic or the right way to make pizza or anything like that, but it's great and super easy and all you need is a cast-iron pan. I give you the Budget Bytes No-Knead Pan Pizza. I don't know what it is about it but it's great. In fact, I think I'll have it for dinner tomorrow.
posted by synecdoche at 4:57 PM on October 13, 2017

I have many recommendations for pizza making (some of which have already been covered), but the biggest one is my cooking method. Like many others, I'll tell you to get your oven as hot as possible. My oven maxes out at 550F so that's what I set it to an hour before I start putting pizza in it. Naturally there's a pizza stone in there for the whole warming process. I put the stone on a rack fairly close to the top of the oven. One down from the top spot. Prepare the pizza on the peel, and slide it onto the stone. Let it cook like that for maybe 3-4 minutes. Then turn on the broiler. Usually within two more minutes the pizza is done. Take it out to rest on the counter and reset the oven to 550F for the next pie. Repeat as necessary.
posted by wabbittwax at 5:06 PM on October 13, 2017

The super peel makes such a difference in getting the pizza onto a stone or steel without fear of sticking. It's like a manual conveyor belt for any wet dough.

Also yes to pizza steel
posted by mabelstreet at 5:53 PM on October 13, 2017

Tomato Sauce for Pizzas

The key to this sauce is in reducing the tomatoes to their essence and making sure to season the sauce well so when you spread it on the pizza, you don't need a lot to create an intense flavor.

14.5 ounce can of tomatoes (whole or diced)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic (minced, pressed, whatever)
a very small pinch of crushed red pepper
a large pinch of oregano, dry or fresh
a teaspoon or so of anchovy paste (Optional but highly recommended, won't taste like anchovies but will just be super yummy)

Double, triple the ingredients or to whatever amount you want. I typically do four cans at once. One can is enough for a large pizza.

Put your ingredients in a large pot with a pinch of salt. With a hand blender, puree the ingredients until smooth (you can also do this in a counter top blender).

Heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir occasionally. This can take awhile, so just keep setting a timer for 20 min or so increments until you get a nice condensed sauce. Now it is time to add the rest of the salt. Season until you get it how you like it. A lot depends upon the sweetness of the tomatoes, how much salt you want, don't be stingy with the salt, give it a nice rich saltiness to bring out the tomato flavor.

This sauce goes well with classic mushroom, olive and mozzarella. Any mushroom will do, I mostly use crimini. You must saute the mushrooms with a little salt until they release their juices and get a little brown. You can add a little garlic near the end if you like. Olives can be any king you like, I prefer roughly chopped. Mozzarella can be grated, if you want to get fancy with the cheese, a little parmesan added to the mozzarella is so good.

Or, just use the sauce with mozzarella, and when the pizza comes out of the oven, sprinkle basil leaves on top.

I'll add another post with my favorite olive oil dough.
posted by nanook at 8:07 PM on October 13, 2017

Pizza Dough/Olive Oil Baking Method

I think there are a lot of good dough recipes here already, but if you are interested, I use Deborah Madison's dough recipe. The key with whatever dough you use is not to be stingy with the salt. A dough lacking salt is never good.

This is how to get an incredibly crisp crust.

In your pizza pan, put in about a tablespoon of olive oil and spread it out. Then put your dough in, rolled out as thin as you can make it. It is perfectly okay to have areas of the dough that start to look a little transparent and if you ever get a hole, just pinch it back together. (I actually don't roll my dough, but place the ball directly into the pan and then press out with my hands, kind of a weird method but works for me. I also use a rectangular baking pan). Let the dough rest for a few minutes if it wants to contract.

At this point, put the crust into a 500 degree oven for about 7 minutes. By having the generous oil layer under the dough, you are essentially frying the dough. Take the crust out and now you can top it however you like. Put it back in the oven for 10 more minutes.

With practice, you will learn how much dough you should use for your pan. Aim for the least amount of dough to cover the pan. I use a food scale when I make up my batch of dough to get how much I need for pizza.
posted by nanook at 8:30 PM on October 13, 2017

Cast iron pizza pan, all the way. We preheat the oven for a good long time, like 30-60 minutes, before putting the pizza in. That pan should be like the surface of the sun.

A cold rise is great. I don't have the patience. We make our dough in a KitchenAid stand mixer and we tend to add just a teensy amount of flour at a time (like, a a couple tablespoons) and let the paddle or the dough hook just go to town before adding more. And resting periodically as well.

Parchment paper is also key and you can just leave the paper under the pizza for the duration. The bottom gets just as crisp with the paper as without and it makes everything a billion times easier.

From what people have told me, I make amazing pizza, and really it's mostly down to just making a dough that can be stretched into a nice thin crust and then baking it on super hot cast iron.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:47 PM on October 13, 2017

With regard to the dough: I also like buying locally made dough balls. And I find this video really useful in guiding me through what to do with it.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 10:24 PM on October 13, 2017

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone! I really appreciate these helpful answers.
posted by cheapskatebay at 10:13 AM on October 14, 2017

I really like Jim Lahey's pizza dough. I pre-heat my oven for at least one hour at 550, with the pizza steel on a rack set high in the oven. I turn on the broiler as soon as the pizza goes in and cook for 4-5 minutes. Plenty of leoparding and melted cheese. A light touch on the sauce, cheese, and toppings is vital.
posted by jindc at 11:59 AM on October 14, 2017

The pizza dough balls that Trader Joes sells is actually pretty good. You can keep it stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature an hour before you assemble your pizza. IMO, any pasta sauce goes well on a pizza. You don't need special pizza specific sauce.

Two things helps us make truly amazing pizzas:

1. A pizza stone (we bought for $10 at Cost Plus several years ago)

2. An outdoor barbecue (we have a gas one)

We assemble our pizza on the pizza stone and pop it (pizza stone and all) into the barbecue (preheated at maximum for 10-15 minutes) and turn the heat to medium. We rotate the pizza 90degrees after 5-6 minutes (for even heating - our bbq has uneven heating) and check back after an additional 5 minutes.

Seriously, this produces pizzas better than most restaurants.
posted by thaths at 10:39 PM on October 20, 2017

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