How to Make Pizza

Friday, 14 December 2018


You don't need a baking stone or pizza oven to make great pizzas at home. You just need an electric oven that has rapid heating mode, plus the black baking pan that comes with the oven. You have these two things? Good. Use them, plus my recipe, and homemade pizzas are a piece of cake.

Keys to Great Homemade Pizzas

1. Use bread flour
Bread flour is flour that has a high level of protein. The one I use has 12%. Protein helps pizzas form "leopard spots", the charred bits that make the crust really crisp.

2. Add oil
The protein in bread flour turns into gluten, which is tough and chewy. Oil softens gluten, so the pizza is crisp outside but soft and airy inside.

3. Don't overknead
Kneading makes gluten chewy and tough. Strong gluten is needed for tall loaves. Pizza, however, is a flat bread. It doesn't have to rise much. You must knead pizza dough gently. And stop kneading once it's evenly mixed.

4. Make a good pizza sauce
How? With San Marzano tomatoes, the gold standard of plum tomatoes. They're so flavourful I don't season my sauce with herbs, garlic, or pepper. A good tomato sauce enhances pizzas with its umaminess and acidity.

5. Choose the right toppings
If you want toppings that release a lot of oil or water when heated intensely – e.g. salami, fresh mozzarella, pineapple, etc – take the pizza out of the oven when it's about 80% done. Add the toppings, then put the pizza back in the oven.

For your first attempt, I suggest you avoid ingredients that are too watery/fatty. You can then see how well the recipe works when the baking process isn't compromised.

There're lots of ingredients that are heat friendly, such as block mozzarella, young cheddar, raclette, gouda, roasted mushrooms, roasted chicken, ham, etc.

6. Use a black baking pan
The best pizzas are baked at 450-480ºC in wood-fired ovens, but home ovens max out at around 270ºC. How to bridge the gap? Some people use a baking stone/steel. I just use the black baking pan that came with my oven. Black absorbs heat better than other colours. A black pan gets much hotter than a light coloured pan when both are heated in the same oven.

7. Bake with rapid heating mode
The fan in rapid heating mode spins at a high speed. It helps transfer heat quickly. Convection mode isn't as good because the fan is slower. Conventional mode is downright bad because the fan doesn't spin at all.

🌹The rapid heating mode, when used with a preheated black pan and bread flour for the dough, makes pizzas form leopard spots in 4 minutes.

8. Transferring from the pizza peel into the oven
Shake the pizza peel/cardboard slightly, so that the edge of the pizza falls onto the baking pan. Once there's contact, the raw dough sticks to the hot pan. You can then pull the peel/cardboard away, and quickly close the oven door.

What if the pizza, already topped, is stuck to the peel? There's really nothing you can do. There's no point baking it because it will end up in a heap on the baking tray. But you'll try anyway. And then you'll see there's no point baking it.

What if the pizza, not yet topped, is stuck to the peel? Just dust the bottom of the pizza with some flour. 



PIZZA
(Recipe for 2 pizzas)

250 g bread flour (plus more for dusting)
4 g (3/4 tsp) salt
0.8 g (1/4 tsp) instant yeast
4 g corn oil (plus more for oiling work surface)
160 g slightly warm water

1 can (400 g) San Marzano whole plum tomatoes
simmer and reduce to about 325 g (this is enough for 5 pizzas)

100 g shredded cheese

Method: Instructions are in the video above. 

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