Perfect Homemade Pizza is a tricky thing to achieve, but with a little practice and the right technique, you can be making parlour-worthy pies in no time. For lots of toppings ideas, check out our Pinterest Board, "Pizza!"
WHAT'S THE DOUGH?
It's made with our organic whole wheat flour, honey, yeast, sunflower oil, water and a pinch of salt. That's it.
STORING AND RE-FREEZING
If you're not going to use the dough the same day as you pick it up, be sure to put it in the freezer right away. After thawing, the dough is best used the same day -- the longer is sits in the fridge thawed out, the less effective the yeast will be.
The dough will keep in the freezer up to 3 months before the yeast's potency starts to taper off. Your dough is a “living” product-- it contains live yeast cultures to help it rise and build structure--but the yeast only becomes active (and starts to rise the dough) when it thaws.
The best way to thaw the dough from totally frozen is to put it in the refrigerator for at least several hours to thaw, then let it rest and rise on the counter at room temperature until it's workable. (You can also just let it completely thaw on the counter, in a bowl, and then let it warm + rise).
WHAT YOU NEED TO GET STARTED
A Pizza Stone is your friend -- it helps your dough (especially if you like a crispy thin crust) get hot quickly-- which is the trick to making great pizza. If you don't have one, preheat the oven with a cookie sheet inside (no rim for easy transfer.)
A Pizza Peel or a thin wooden cutting board. The benefit of a pizza peel here is that you can slide your topped pizza in easily and remove it easily (and slice it here when it's done.)
A sturdy fork or a dough docker (to help prevent air bubbles in your dough.)
You oven should be set super hot, 450-500 degrees, with the pizza stone or cookie sheet inside heating up.
Allow your dough to come to room temp on the counter after thawing for overnight (if totally frozen) or a few hours (if just partially frozen) in fridge. Read below for the details on rising and shaping.
You'll also want some cornmeal to sprinkle on your pizza stone or cookie sheet before putting your dough on it to help prevent sticking.
The regulars: roma tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, thinly sliced red onion
Meats: cooked chicken, browned sausage, cooked brats, pulled pork, sliced kielbasa or andouille, bacon, prosciutto or soppressata
Veggies: thinly sliced Hungarian hot peppers, bell peppers, thinly sliced eggplant, Brussels sprouts, kale, mushrooms, summer squash, cooked winter squash, thinly sliced kale/spinach
Adventurous Add-Ons: eggs, fragile greens like arugula, or stone fruit (peaches, plums)
Finishing Drizzles: honey, balsamic vinegar, high-quality oil, fresh herbs
*Read section below on Toppings.
- If your dough is frozen, pull it out from the freezer the night before and put in refrigerator to defrost.
- Preheat oven, with the pizza stone inside, to a temp of 500 degrees
- Remove dough from refrigerator. Lightly oil a bowl for the dough to rise in (keep separate if making both pizzas in one day). The oil will help prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl. Let is come up to room temperature for about an hour. The dough will rise a bit and become a little bit "bouncier". It won't change significantly in size so you'll know it's ready when you can gently push your finger in and leave a dent.
- Spread a few tablespoons of flour or cornmeal on a clean countertop surface.
- Once the dough is warm and risen, remove it from the bowl and set on floured surface. Punch it down by flattening with your hands, into roughly a circle shape.
- Lay the rolling pin across the midline of the dough. Roll the dough from the center to the top and from the center to the bottom. Don’t roll the pin all the way off the dough. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat the rolling. Continue this process—rolling and turning-- till it's a little bigger than a dinner plate (about 10" - 12") and about ¼" - ½" thick.
- Careful not to roll the crust too thin - it will be challenging to move to the oven and be more likely to rip.
- This step is all about personal preference -- if you like a thicker crust, don't roll it out as much, and if you like a thinner crust, roll it out to your heart's desire.
- Using your hands, stretch, pull, and form your dough in a clockwise motion until you have achieve an even and properly sized pizza. Be careful not to tear the dough here, just stretch it thin.
- Dust your pizza stone or cookie sheet with cornmeal. You don't want to do this step too far in advance because the hot oven will start to toast and potentially burn it.
- Carefully transfer your dough from your countertop to the over (it's helpful if you have a partner to open the oven door quickly for you while you carefully lift and carry your dough to the over.
- With a fork or dough docker, stab little holes over the entire surface of the pizza dough. This allows water vapor to release from the dough, and prevents those bubbles from forming in your pizza dough/crust as it cooks.
- We recommend a par-bake on the crust. Let it cook without any toppings for 2-3 minutes - this may help keep the dough from getting soggy by giving it a chance to for a bit of a "crust" before adding your sauce and toppings.
- Add your sauce & toppings - save the cheese for a last minute add once the crust starts browning up.
- Turn your oven light on and peek through at the progress from the outside without opening the door. The oven needs to stay hot and it's tempting to open the door to check on progress.
- Cook time will vary -- but start checking around 5 minutes. You'll want to watch the edge to know when it's getting ready - a little browning of the edges is a sign it's getting close. Another test (which requires a swift, quick movement is opening the door and sticking a metal spatula under the crust to see how stiff of flimsy it is. Shut the door quickly after this test). This step could take up to 10 minutes.
- Once it seems the crust is sturdy and edges are browning, quickly add the cheese. Shut the door and your pizza is done once the cheese is melted as you like (keep in mind it will continue to melt after you take it out of the oven).
- You can also turn the broiler on at this stage for a hot burst of air on top of the pizza that will help melt the pizza. Don't keep it on for too long, or too close to the pizza to prevent the cheese from burning.
- Carefully remove pizza back onto a peel or cutting board, slice as many ways needed and enjoy!!
Most of the mistakes made by home pizza cooks involve the amount and placement of toppings. Keep a high crust-to-topping ratio, and a generally good guiding principle is that a little (topping) goes a long way.
If you're using a tomato based sauce, go light. You can always add more, but too much sauce will result in a soft, fragile dough. It will also increase you chances of the pizza sticking to the stone.
The sauce is the first layer, if you're using it. Use a ladle to spoon some into the center of the pie. Using the bottom of the ladle, start to spread it out in concentric circles, going wider and wider till you almost reach the edge. Check out Parker's Tomato Sauce Recipe to make your own at home!
Cheese is another ingredient that is often over-used (and is also pretty expensive.) If using a shredded cheese, make just a light layer on top of the sauce (or if using mozzarella, cut into chunks and disperse over the pie.)
Toppings that need to Pre-Cook
Some toppings need to be cooked a bit beforehand. For example, you would not want to put big chunks of raw sausage on a pizza that is only going to cook for 8 minutes. You want your toppings to finish cooking at the same time as the pizza.
For most meats (except thinly sliced, pre-cooked or cured meats like prosciutto which are placed on after the pizza comes out of the oven,) you want to par-cook them almost all the way through and then allow them to finish on the pizza.
Some vegetables need a pre-cook as well. Mushrooms, eggplant, Brussels sprouts and bell peppers all do better with a sauté with a tiny bit of oil, salt and maybe herbs until they are mostly cooked through.
Toppings should be spread evenly across the surface of your pizza to ensure proper cooking. Spread in an even, thin layer across the surface. This will ensure all your toppings will be nice and crispy.
Toppings that go on at the very end
Some toppings don't need to be cooked at all, and in fact are much better when just placed on the cooked pizza at the end. Fresh greens (like arugula, spinach and fresh herbs), ricotta, pesto, and white sauce can all go on right at the end or with just an extra minute or two in the oven.
Finishing the Pizza
Once a pizza is properly cooked and cut on the peel or cutting board, try finishing it with a light drizzle of extra virgin sunflower oil, or freshly grated parmesan (or Flat Rock) cheese. Also, a few freshly chopped herbs add a lot of flavor. And especially if you're using anything spicy on your pizza, drizzling some honey on top is a great final touch.