I’ve made homemade pizza many times over the years.
And I’ve been disappointed in my results quite a few times too.
From soggy crusts, to pizzas that don’t bake evenly to those that just don’t taste great. (To be fair, there have been many homemade pizzas we really enjoyed too.)
A while back I found a free Craftsy pizza making class. It’s an online video course that comes with some recipes and shows how to really up your homemade pizza making game.
I watched the course recently and gave a few of the tips a try. And I learned a lot about pizza making, even though my first attempt didn’t go quite as planned.
But I’m determined to master the homemade pizza. I’ll be sharing tips and recipes with you here. I’ve got a great sauce recipe to share. And I’ve got a dough in the fridge right now that I have high hopes for. It feels lovely already, unlike the last recipe I tried, which never gained the soft, elastic quality you want in pizza dough.
For today I want to share 5 reasons why I’ve been disappointed in my previous pizza making attempts and what I’m doing to fix that.
Baking in an oven that’s not hot enough
Pizza needs a seriously hot oven. Way hotter than I ever would have guessed. Previously, I would bake my pizzas at around 400 degrees.
But I’ve learned through the Craftsy class and other reading I’ve done that you really need to crank up the oven.
Turn it to 500 degrees or hotter. Mine goes up to 550. Then turn on the convection bake if you have it. This will add 50 extra degrees to the temp.
With the oven heated as high as it will go, pizza will bake in just 5-6 minutes.
In case you’re wondering, baking stones such as you buy from Pampered Chef cannot take this kind of heat.
Takeaway – Turn up the oven the next time you bake. But be sure to use a metal baking sheet or iron skillet if you don’t own a baking steel or pizza stone.
Pizza takes patience
Homemade pizza is not a 15 minute meal. I love, love, love a quick dinner, but pizza is not in this category.
And I think that may be why I’m drawn to it now. Learning to bake great pizza at home feels like a hobby and creative pursuit and less like the “get dinner on the table” routine that I do every day.
Good homemade pizza crust needs to be made at least 24 hours before it’s ready to be worked with. The dough needs time to become strong and elastic. Without that time, it won’t be possible to get it to stretch and form the crust.
Takeaway – Try making your crust at least a day ahead of when you’re planning to bake it.
If you want round crust, start with a round dough ball
Last week I made homemade dough, but didn’t separate it into individual pieces until I was ready to work with it. I ended up with triangle shaped pizza crusts. (My dough had a few other problems that didn’t help either.)
I’ve since learned that dividing the dough before storing in the fridge and storing the balls in a round container will help with keeping things round.
Takeaway – Store your dough already separated into pieces in a round bowl or dish.
Great flour really helps
I usually use bread flour for my pizza crust, but still wasn’t getting the results I wanted. This time I bought King Arthur bread flour and it’s made a huge difference. I could tell as I was running the mixer that this dough was a higher quality. And as I worked with it, I knew for sure.
High quality flour that is high in gluten will produce the best pizza crust.
Takeaway – Pick up a bag of high quality bread flour the next time you’re in the grocery.
Pizza tools are important
Pizza stones or baking steels that can take the heat are preferable to baking on a regular pizza pan.
I’ve recently ordered a pizza steel from Dough Joe. These have the best price that I could find. It’s still an investment, but it won’t ever break. The steel is HEAVY! 15 pounds of metal.
We used this for the first time last Friday and I love it! It’s a pizza-baking game changer!
Dough Joe also sells pizza stones. I almost went with these. They come as a 4 or 5 piece set, so they aren’t as prone to breaking as one solid stone would be. They also aren’t as heavy as the pizza steel.
A pizza peel is essential for slipping the pizza into and out of the oven. I have this one that I bought from Bed, Bath and Beyond. I think it was in the Beyond section 😉
Takeaway – Consider purchasing a steel or stone and peel. Or use your iron skillet to bake your pizza if you’re not ready to invest.
Pizza making parties are fun
I gather all the ingredients on the kitchen island. Everyone gathers around to help work the dough, add toppings, talk and laugh. We eat each pizza as it comes out of the oven.
It’s messy, noisy, delicious fun!
Takeaway – Invite your friends and family into the kitchen with you to experiment and have fun!