Imagine the pizza at your favorite parlor: bright sauce and savory toppings, supported by a crispy yet chewy crust and covered with just the right amount of gooey, bubbly cheese. If you've ever tried to replicate that pie at home, you know how difficult it can be. Crusts sag in the middle, laden with undercooked toppings that swim in oily pools of mozzarella. But what makes good homemade pizza so elusive?
Most likely, your oven is the culprit. While commercial ovens can fire up flawless crusts with ease, the typical home oven just can't get hot enough. But that doesn't mean you should give up on homemade pizza. At ChefSteps, we joined forces with Joe Heffernan of Seattle's Independent Pizzeria to bring you three tricks that will help you make professional-tasting pies in your own kitchen, no Italian-style brick dome required.
1. Toast Your Dusting Flour
A professional oven can get hotter than 600°F, which means any extra flour the cook uses to dust the dough will toast up in a flash. A home oven, on the other hand, is likely to leave behind undercooked dusting flour that can cling unpleasantly to your tongue.
To prevent this, simply toast your flour in advance. Spread it across a baking sheet in a thin layer, and roast it at 450°F for about 25 minutes, or until it takes on a golden color. Use that toasted flour for all your dusting needs, et voilà, no more raw flour on your perfect crust.
2. Use a Baking Steel or Pizza Stone
It's not enough for an oven to reach blazing-hot temperatures; it also has to maintain them. And the key to a steady oven temperature is mass. The rustic brick dome at your favorite Neapolitan-style joint isn't there just to add Old World ambiance. Those heavy bricks also store thermal energy, which means the temperature inside the oven won't drop sharply when the pizzaiolo adds a freshly topped pie.
To add mass to your own oven, you can make use of a baking steel or pizza stone. These heavy baking platforms are widely available and easy to use, and they not only reduce temperature swings but also get the bottom of your crust nice and crispy while they're at it.
3. Get Your Oven Blazing Hot -- Then Crank Up the Broiler
Adding mass stabilizes the temperature of your oven, but it also makes preheating take longer. That's why we recommend turning on your oven at least 45 minutes before you bake. Set the temperature to 500F, or as high as it will go, and place your steel or stone on the top rack. While you wait, go toss your dough, thinly slice your veggies, prepare your meats and cheeses, and get that pizza ready to bake.
Once your oven is toasty, carefully slide your pie onto your baking surface and let it sizzle away for three minutes. Now turn on your broiler and cook for another minute and a half. That's right: If you used our tips to get and keep your oven hot, a thin-crust pizza will cook in under five minutes.
Remove your masterpiece from the oven and let it rest for a minute or two. Then go devour that crispy, bubbly crust -- baked to perfection in your very own oven.
It's time to make pizza dough, use Kitchen Conundrums foolproof technique and recipe: