Learning More About Pizza – The Best Tips I`ve Got…

I continue to learn a lot about making pizza and am mildly obsessed.

As today is a travel day, I thought I`d share a few quick tips that I`ve recently developed that`s helping my homemade pizza reach the next level (pictures and another post on pizza when I get back).  These tips are resulting in the bes pizza I`ve ever made at home (and the second-best outside of Italy that I`ve bever had).  These tips come from a combination of trial-and-error, reading and talking to some amazing Pizza Chefs:

  • `Real`pizza cooks at 1,000 degrees for 90 seconds.  I cook mine as hot as possible at home – bake at 550 degrees with a pizza stone near the top of the oven.  My thin-crust pizza takes 10 minutes in the oven.  It won`t burn.  Pinky swear.
  • You can let the dough raise as long as it needs.  I accidentally let one rise for more than 12 hours last week (the oven was off and the couch was comfy) and it made for a great breakfast pie. 
  • The best rolling-pin is your fingers.  Flatten the pie with your fingers and knuckles, make little dimples in the dough and don`t worry about being perfect.
  • Don`t worry about perfect circles – it`s far prettier when not `perfect.`
  • The best sauce = diced tomatoes and olive oil blitzed with an immersion blender or food processor.
  • Fresh herbs will last in extreme heat for a short duration.  10 minutes is not short.  I blend herb flakes into my sauce and am very liberal with them.
  • Less ingredients = more.  Sauce, cheese and 1 ingredient (I like pickled hot peppers).
  • Heat the pizza stone in the oven for a long time.
  • Smaller pizzas are easier to handle.  I make small pizzas which are about the size of a plate (this is essential to transfer from a cutting board to the hot stone which I do with the help of a spatula).
  • Once you put the sauce on the dough, act like it`s a race.  Each second longer means that your pizza is getting `soggy-er` and more difficult to transfer.
  • Cheese should be applied in chunks – not grated.  The bigger the chunks, the longer it takes to melt and the more that you will have individual pools of cheese and not a solid film covering the entire pie.

A few pizza-related articles tht may help you get up to speed if you`re looking for the fundamentals:

Any other tips out there?  I`d love to hear them.


  1. I will have to try baking it at a high temp!

    I’ve found that if I cook the dough all by itself (no sauce, no toppings) for about 5 to 7 minutes, the dough is less soggy.

  2. I too blind bake my crust first. I used to pole holes in it with a fork first, but found that it didn’t really matter to me how thin I could make it. And I about died when I saw you said pickled hot peppers. That’s my favorite ingredient, too. I have quarts of picked banana peppers (a combo of mild and hot) that I put up last summer. The BEST for homemade pizza!

  3. I am in love with griling pizzas on the BBQ – then I can get it up to 650 degrees and you get a nice smokey flavor to boot. I wrote about it last summer here: http://www.folksgottaeat.com/2010/07/shanas-bbq-pizza-goodness.shtml

    I confess that I never make my own dough – I just buy the balls at the bakery! I’m kinda scared to bake with yeast (because it’s ALIVE) but I am going to try your recipe this summer!

  4. I crank my oven as high as it will go (550) and use a pizza screen (like this: http://www.webstaurantstore.com/14-aluminum-pizza-screen/14-aluminum-pizza-screen.jpg) – best thing I’ve ever purchased. Cook for 8 to 10 mins. To stretch the dough, flour liberally, flatten slightly with finger tips and then place it on top of my hands (knuckles) and stretch it out and rotate. There’s a good video here: http://how-to-stretch-pizza-dough.blogspot.com/ Rolling pin is a big no no for light, airy pizza crust! I love pizza and could seriously eat it every day.

  5. I pre-bake the crust too. This also comes in handy when having a pizza party (giant basket of crusts: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_N1ISJ-zKSOg/TTW9_knTtrI/AAAAAAAAAHE/B2beDwJbZ-A/s1600/pizza+party+1.jpg ) and facilitates freezing crusts for quick building pizzas at a later date.

    I saw a tip on a cooking show from a N.Y. pizzeria where they build their pizza on a plain crust and then ladle the sauce on in spots around the pizza last. Don’t know if this is to avoid a soggy crust or just their particular quirk, but the finished pie looked very good and I’m going to try this to see what happens.

  6. Carol Cripps says:

    Actually, the best pizza I’ve ever eaten was grilled on the gas barbecue. I flattened my dough, slapped it onto the oiled grill and let it cook for about a minute before flipping it and adding sauce and toppings. That part has to be done quickly, so the whole thing cooks and the cheese melts before the bottom of the dough burns, but that’s part of the fun. The outside of the crust was somewhat crispy, while the inside was perfectly baked, and the grill made a perfect “oven” with the lid down. It was far, far better than any delivery or restaurant pizza I’ve ever had.


  1. […] 4, 2011 by Joel When I wrote about our pizza tips last week, I promised to post some photos once I got back from my trip to […]

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