Friday, March 28, 2014

How to Make the Best Homemade Pizza

It's Lent. It's Friday night. It's dinner time. In my house, that can mean only one thing - pizza! Making pizza is a fun family activity, especially on a Friday evening when everyone has the time to gather together in the kitchen and take on a job -  rolling out the dough, cutting the vegetables, and making the sauce. But many home chefs just can't get the knack of making a thin, crispy crust in their own ovens and just give up. But I can and I can teach you! We've been making homemade pizza for years so we've gotten pretty good at it.

Below are my secrets to achieving a thin, crunchy pizza crust.


  • You must use a pizza stone (Here's the one I use.)  Why? A preheated pizza stone retains an enormous amount of heat and transfers that heat to the pizza, cooking it quickly, nearly blistering its crust. 

  • Never roll out the dough on a cold pizza stone and then place it in the oven. The stone needs to be hot before you slide the pizza on top of it. Therefore, place the pizza stone on your lower oven rack and turn the oven up to at least 450 degrees (475 or 500 is even better) and let the stone get good and hot. (It should preheat at least 15 minutes to absorb enough heat.)

  • Next, let your pizza dough come to room temperature by leaving it on your counter for about 15 minutes. (I use Trader Joe's Fresh Pizza Dough; $1.29) Dust your kitchen counter with cornmeal or even semolina flour. Divide your dough in half and roll one half out on to your prepared counter, letting it "stick" to the counter. Roll it out to about a 10-inch disk. Now let it rest in its "stuck" position for a few minutes.

  • Once the dough has relaxed (it won't bounce back), use a pastry knife and an extra set of hands and carefully "unstick" the edges of the dough. Then gently lift the disk off the counter and onto a pizza paddle dusted with about a tablespoon of cornmeal. Arrange the dough on the paddle making sure edges don't overlap. (You will need those extra set of hands to help you.) Give the paddle a slight shake, too, making sure the dough isn't sticking to the paddle.

preparing the pizza dough


  • Now you are ready to spoon on your sauce (not too much or it will get soggy). Next comes the mozzarella cheese and finally your toppings of choice.

  • Open up the oven door and carefully shake the pizza on to the stone. (Use a few short shakes to loosen it from the paddle and then once the tip of the dough hits the stone, give it a good long shake to get it completely off the paddle. Close the oven door and set the timer for about 7 minutes. (You may like yours more and less well done so check after 5 minutes but you can keep it in as long as 8 minutes.)


homemade pizza with vegetable toppings


Buon appetito!


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