OK... How Do You Actually Make It?

Home baked pizza doesn't have to be a pale imitation of a pizzeria's product. With a standard kitchen oven, a few tools, and a little knowledge you can match (or exceed) almost any pie out there. Hmmm... Perhaps a "little knowledge" is a deceptive phrase. Deceptive because pie making isn't hard, but it involves a lot of tricks, how-to's, and secrets to pull it off. And that, my friends, is what this site is all about. I still consider myself an amateur at this game. But, I can teach the novice enough about the art so he/she can make a pie worthy of the name. So, let's start with the basics.

Real pizza is made in the following order. First, you need to create a dough on which to build the pie. There are thousands of variations on this, but I use a simple recipe that requires a three day ferment in the refrigerator (See Tip #1). Second, the dough is formed into the pie shape and placed on a pizza peel. The peel needs lots of semolina flour on it before placing the dough. (see Tip #2). Third, sauce, toppings, and cheese are layered over the unbaked dough. Fourth, the raw pie must be shaken and slid off the peel onto a pre-heated, very hot baking stone. This isn't hard, but it is scary to the novice. Finally, bake a few minutes, remove from the oven, and enjoy.

Let's Review...

step 1 step 2 step 3 step 4

Sounds Complicated... Is It?

Complicated? Well, maybe a bit, but not really. I've dedicated this whole site to making one recipe. That makes it seem complex. But, bear in mind, I'm trying to cover the details of a whole new skill set for some people. That skill set involves a lot of tricks and "hidden" knowledge from a lot of sources.

In actuality, making a pizza takes no more active time or effort than a casserole dish or a meat and potatoes dinner. The odd thing about pizza is there are several small steps spread over several days. The procedures I cover on this site are pretty close to those performed every day in many pizzerias across the country. It's simply how it's done.


Tips & Tricks

Tip# 1

Above all the tricks I've learned in my pizza making quest the one that stands out is the three day ferment. I was motivated to try it after reading this excellent article by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. The very first pie using this technique stunned me. I could now make a pie with the very texture and flavor of the best pizzerias. Read the article, it's very informative. I even learned about the Maillard process which should have come up while I was working on my Bachelor's Degree in Biochemistry. It didn't. After all, that would have been useful knowledge. Chuckle...

Tip #2

When I first started making pies I used corn meal to aid the slide from peel to stone. It works, but cornmeal is, well..., corn. When it bakes on the stone it smells like and leaves a taste of roasted corn. This is great at the state fair when you crave roasted corn. But, it isn't the flavor you want on a pizza. Semolina flour (the stuff spaghetti is made of) is the appropriate "lubricating" medium for pizza. It burns less readily and coats the pizza bottom with the little grainy stuff like a real pizzeria. Ask for it in your local grocery store. It's probably in with the special diet products. Bob's Red Mill is one of several brands available.