7 Secrets To Making A Great Pizza
Has making a perfect pizza in your humble oven always eluded you? Well, you are not alone. There are so many elements that can go wrong– the dough, the sauce, toppings, heat, cheese and much more. Worry not ladies, here I am to your rescue with these 7 top secrets of making a great pizza in the convenience of your home. Let the party begin!
1. Use a baking stoneDo you use a metal pizza pan to bake your pizzas? Throw it in the bin and get a baking stone. Many great chefs suggest that baking stones allow concentration of heat and also help to reduce the annoying moisture in the pizza dough. I’ve also noticed that they’re superb for reheating those leftover pizzas because the stones don’t burn the bottoms, leaving them nice and crisp! As if this was not enough, baking stones are also great for baking your own home-made breads and cookies.
2. Let your dough ageIf you are after that perfect thin crust for your pizza– let the dough rise overnight. To simply put this, it is a good baking technique. The risk of using dough that has not been aged is that it may be chewy, loose and pale. I love my pizzas to have that crisp, airy and golden brown crust which in my opinion can be achieved only by aging your dough.
3. Spin your doughNot all of us can toss the pizza dough in the air to give it that supple shape and texture. Do you roll your dough by using a roller? Try shaping the dough by hand. Remember, the secret of good food lies in your hand! Place the dough on a floured, flat surface that can spin, preferably wooden. Start pressing the dough from the middle and spin the surface as you flatten it out. What’s the point? Well the point is that this will not destroy the structure of the dough, whereas a roller will simply flatten the surface, ignoring any lumps within.
4. The right tools– your best friendsLet’s face it; we are not expert chefs who can make-do with any equipment. For a flawless pizza, you will require to have all the necessary tools handy. You don’t want to ruin a perfect pizza because you had a faulty cutter, do you? Little mistakes like this can ruin the charm of a near-perfect homemade pizza. On my tick list, I have a pizza cutter, chef’s knife, a pizza peel, a chopping board ready for last minute toppings, a wooden spatula to mix the dough (I stay away from metal) and a brush to apply toppings on the crust. Don’t take a chance; get your act together before you even start rolling the dough.
5. Brush the pizza edges with garlic oilWhat makes the pizzeria pizzas so special are the few extra touches that they give. We’ve all heard about brushing olive oil on the crust, but what about the edges? Instead of leaving the edges bland, why not induce a strong flavor? I like to brush the edge of a crust with garlic oil to give it a tangy flavor. I also like to apply a few light coats of olive oil whenever necessary for that crisp texture. If you must, you may attempt to experiment with other flavors of oil to suit your taste. Remember, it is the detail that separates the girls from the ladies!
6. Stay minimalistic with the sauceA big mistake that most amateur chefs make is to load the pizza sauce with many, many ingredients. Let me warn you– play with the pizza sauce only if you really know what you are doing! I like to use fresh tomatoes, black pepper, red pepper, sea salt, finely chopped garlic, some olive oil and a pinch of oregano. The secret to a great pizza sauce does not end with its preparation. Just because you’ve got a great tasting sauce does not mean you apply too much of it on the dough. I suggest using a thick brush to evenly spread the sauce across the dough. Be warned– do not use a spoon or a spatula to apply the sauce. The brush is your best mate here.
7. Make a lavish use of fresh mozzarellaSay what you want, nothing beats the taste of fresh mozzarella cheese on your pizza. You will find it on the shelves of most supermarkets and grocery stores. Believe me, cutting corners and using packed cheese is just not worth it. Texture tip – if you want, add some excitement into your pizza, pull out irregular chucks of mozzarella and simply leave them on your dough. This will give your pizza a more ‘varied’ structure.
The secrets to making a great pizza are probably the little things that most of us overlook. Believe me, you can play around with the ingredients after you master the basics. So use these tips and invite your friends over for some great homemade pizza that beats any pizzeria out there!