I've been trying to get the perfect home made pizza for quite a while now, and I think I've finally sussed it. In the past they haven't tasted quite like the pizza you can buy from a take-away restaurant.
It's linked to my flour experiment and bread making and the successes I saw there were passed onto my pizza making. A little bit of research and remembering what a chef said on television about the sauce came together to provide a great home made pizza.
In the past the problems I've had have included: the pizza base being dense; soggy base; soggy middle; over-baked crust; base sauce sour.
So, what have I done differently? Well, it's a number of factors which I have changed. The first is the flour, which I've documented the difference in performance here in 'It's all about the flour'. It seems very important to have good flour to work with.
The yeast was left to activate in fairly warm water (I use dried yeast), and I warmed the pan before putting the pizza base in (only a touch) to accelerate yeast activity. This provided the soft light crust using the dough recipe I'm trying out. I will be posting this recipe soon, however there is a couple of things I need to test first. My current recipe only really works for 2 lb of dough, which is enough for four 12 inch pizzas, so I'm testing how the dough responds to being frozen and defrosted because four 12 inch pizzas is a little excessive for a small family.
I use 12 inch pizza trays with air holes in the bottom. They are relatively thin, and I came to the conclusion, after watching a pizzaiolo†, that it was the technique of baking in my 'domestic' oven which was causing an uneven bake on the base. They put the pizza directly onto the bottom of the pizza oven, giving metal to base directly and not relying on hot air to heat the tray. I realised that in my oven there is a drip tray made of fairly thick metal and when turned upside-down provides a large flat surface :) . I imagine this is why some people buy oven stones.
I've perfected (to my taste) the base sauce, which is the same as my base tomato sauce I prepare for many meals. Things I've added to make the taste better have been a pinch of sugar and some white wine vinegar. Got this tip by looking at the ingredients on the side of a bolognese jar. The tip I saw on television from a chef was that normally too much base sauce is used, causing the middle to become soggy. So I reduced the amount to a really thin spread.
I don't know whether the final thing that I've done differently makes a difference, but I took the time to learn (from youtube) how to 'spin' a pizza. Took me a couple of hours to practice a basic spin, but the result is a nice round flat base with even thickness and no holes! It was also a bit of fun. I did notice this technique tends to spread flour of the whole kitchen though, which means you'll probably have to clean down all surfaces afterwards, even ones you haven't used.
As you can see, I'm pretty pleased with the result. Pizza is high on my list of my favourite foods. I will have to wait until the next time we have pizza to test the defrost technique, how long it takes to be ready etc. I will report back when I've completed this stage. If it works there will be no more buying pizza from the take-away or from the supermarket.
† pizzaiolo is Italian for a pizza maker according to Google translate.
- Written by Stuart Edge
- Category: General News
- Published: 20 April 2012