The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
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Let’s Talk Pizza!

Posted by in Kitchen Talk

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Kitchen Talk (Pizza!)

I scream, you scream, we all scream for … pizza! Yes, I know that’s not how it goes, but I’m convinced that pizza in the summertime is just as popular as ice cream. Actually, pizza is crazy popular just about anytime, with just about anyone. Even gluten-free pizza has come a long way from its humble cardboard-y beginnings.

More folks have been trying their hand at making homemade pizza, which is great because there’s just something special about a pie made from scratch in your own kitchen. If you think about it, it shouldn’t be that difficult, really: dough, cheese, sauce, your favorite toppings. It doesn’t sound like rocket science. But sometimes, it feels like it is. The dough can be finicky, it can be tricky to get the temperature just right so the dough is properly cooked and the cheese melted just so, and wouldn’t you know it, the onions burned again. Of course, it’ll still palatable—it’s pizza, after all—but deep in your heart, you know it could have been better.

The quest for a better homemade pizza is a noble pursuit (or so says my belly), so let’s help each other out! Tell us:

Do you have any tips and tricks for making homemade pizza?

I find that giving the dough a mini-vacation in the fridge to proof (overnight if possible, up to 3 days) gives the crust a lovely flavor. Instead of pizza sauce, I like to roast slices of fresh tomato (sprinkled with salt, pepper, drizzled with olive oil) in the oven and lay those on the crust. And if you find that your dough tends to finish cooking before the top is properly done, try this trick: move the pizza to a higher rack in the oven. Using the top oven rack intensifies the heat from above without having to use the broiler, which cooks the top of the pizza faster. Favorite toppings? I have two all-time favorites: a simple margherita with anchovies, or seafood pizza. I’m weird, I know.

How about you? Do you have any favorite pizza tricks? Any great basic or gluten-free crust recipes to share? Can you teach me how to toss a large disc of dough in the air and catch it like nobody’s business? Have any favorite toppings or unique flavor combos for us to try? Share your pizza tips with us below!

 

19 Comments

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busy lady on 7.19.2015

My hub is a huge fan of homemade pizza. After many years I have figured out how to make it less labor intensive and he still gets the treat of a homemade pizza usually once a week. The dough recipe that “won” in his eyes was one on the yeast jar. Flour, oil, (I use olive) salt, yeast and water. We have figured out that if you make it first thing in the morning and then cover it and walk away for 5 hours, the proofing really makes for a good crust and it’s much easier to roll out onto the stone. I precook the burger and one pound cooked up gets divided into 3 containers. One is used right away and the other 2 land in the freezer for suture use. Same with the bulk mozzarella cheese. The bag is divided into 3 cup containers and lands back in the freezer. This is a labor of love but he does enjoy it and that makes it all worth it!

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kay43026 on 7.17.2015

I make several different pizza crusts…with different flours. (I’m addicted to King Arthur products!)

I like the slow rise of a fridge rise. I like a ‘quick’ rise recipe when I want pizza in 45 minutes. I like thick crust. I like thin crust. So…I pretty much like ALL pizza!! I currently make my pizza on a baking steel instead of pizza stone, with AMAZING results.

I’ve been making pizza at home WAY before it was the ‘in’ thing to do…and before the Internet! Pretty much trial/error!! By the time my daughter was in middle school, she & her dad had a pizza rivalry every Friday night, with her 2 brothers & I doing the judging! She’s now married…and still makes pizza almost every Friday night!!

Gotta love a good pizza!

EQ on 7.17.2015

If we want good pizza we must be very patient – time is the best cooker! I left my pizza to the fridge and after ~3h I cook. Delicious!

KrissyC EsMommy on 7.16.2015

I am not huge on a more flat or thin crust pizza myself, but I do love a deep dish! I make mine the same way that my dad made it when I was a kid. I take a baking sheet with the 1″ sides and line it with either parchment paper or tin foil lightly grease it and press the crust in and up the sides. Then I bake it for 4-5 minutes in the oven. After its parbaked I add the toppings…generally I start with a sauce, add crumbled ground beef, pepperoni, a layer of cheese and whatver veg we want, tho generally its the same mix of olives, mushroom, green peppers and onion, then I add a little more cheese to the top and bake for 15 minutes. After its had about 5 minutes to cool I just take the the sides of the paper or foil, lift it from the pan carefully and cut into nice big squares. For our family of 3 the pizza usually is gone within 24 hours. Its thick, filling, but delic all at the same time.

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Shawna C on 7.16.2015

Here’s a tip that’s super-basic, but it took me a bit to figure this out so I’ll try to save some other newbie the trial-and-error: whether you put something under or on top of the cheese matters.

If you like your meat crispy, put it on top; if you don’t want spinach to dry out and scorch, put it underneath. If you want your tomatoes moist, underneath, but if you want them roasted and dried out a bit, on top. Fragile herbs like fresh basil are often best added raw after cooking is done.

Liz on 7.16.2015

I use Shiner Bock beer for the liquid in my crust. Gives it a great flavor.

Karen B on 7.16.2015

I use my cast iron pan, a flour tortilla is the crust. It WORKS! It is a thin crust pizza. First I spray the pan with oil. Only for the first one. Then I heat the pan on high, once hot I lay in the tortilla, wait for it to brown a little, turn over in pan, then lower heat on pan and have the oven on about 400 deg. Now while the oven is heating I layer the pizza, sauce, cheese veggies and meat. I put in oven until brown and melted. I slide it out and have a thin crust pizza, crunchy and crisp. Start all over again, but you will not need to spray the pan.

Annalise on 7.16.2015

I have a couple of major pizza pet peeves: not getting the oven hot enough and rolling out the dough instead of stretching it. Both will land you with something closer to a cracker than a pizza crust. It’s a good way to spot how much experience a recipe writer has, though, and weed out folks who don’t realllly know what they’re doing!
Personally, I love a good Neapolitan style pizza. 1-2 day cold ferment of the crust, cooked on a pizza steel under the broiler with at least an hour to get the steel searingly hot before the pizza goes on. Tossed and/ or stretched with nothing but a good dusting of flour to help it transfer so you get proper bottom char. Using my own crust recipe and ideally my own sourdough starter.
Better than most restaurants, that’s for sure!

Vi L on 7.16.2015

My pizza stone broke in the high temp (I cook my pizza @ 500) so I read online (not my idea someone far smarter than I cam up with this) that you can use a cast iron pan. I put the cast iron pan in the oven to preheat when the oven is coming up to temp. Remove the pan (I like the flat sized ones, but have used fry pans with success, too) a good pot holder will be necessary! Make the pizza right on this screaming hot pan and put it back in the oven – it only takes a few minutes, so don’t go far! Amazing – to us, makes a much better pizza than the stone did!

Also, Mario Batali suggests a glug or two of wine in the dough – makes a nice crisp crust. I like to use every drop I buy and old wine works just as well. (plus it’s a nice excuse to have pizza!!)

Hope these things work for you guys and gals as well as they do for us.

Marti on 7.15.2015

Parchment paper is a definite. I always preheat the stone at 550. Takes a good 20-30 minutes, but it’s worth every second. Gives me a very crispy crust. Using the parchment makes cleanup a breeze. I’ve seen the paper turn gold, tan, pale umber, toast and every other shade of brown but it never burns. Technically. Turns dark-dark brown, but never catches on fire.

I seem to like it better when I use the olives from olive salad and drizzle a tablespoon of the oil from the salad over the top of the pizza before baking. Has just the herbs I want already in it. :)

JB on 7.15.2015

The pizza dough in above picture looks wonderful. I’ve tried about a dozen dough recipes and can’t find one that I think is great. What recipe do you use?

Kelly on 7.15.2015

For years we’ve held a tradition in my house of pizza Friday’s. I’ve gone through a few different doughs before setting on the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes olive oil pizza dough recipe. SUPER simple to make (I’ve customized the recipe for the size of pizza we eat, which I make in a large sheet pan) and I can pull it off with very little hands-on time (5 minutes to mix the dough, 1 hr to rise, 2 hrs to cool in the fridge to make it easier to handle, 20 minutes to make the pizza). It’s a success every time! I’m looking forward to when my boys are older and more willing to branch out from standard pepperoni pizza, though! ;)

Elaine Pool – parchment, within a few inches of the dough, will be perfectly fine in a very hot oven (450F). The further it gets from the dough the more it’ll brown and become brittle, but I’ve never had it burn! I love baking bread with parchment!

Ann on 7.15.2015

Try it on the grill – just put your un-topped pizza crust on the grill for a few minutes – it will get bubbly, then turn it over for a minute. Take it back in and put your toppings on then put it back on the grill using indirect heat method. It gives it great flavor. Try fig marmalade and prosciutto – once off the grill, top it with greens and Parmesan cheese.. I love kalamata olives on mine too..mmm

Betsy from MA on 7.15.2015

I put a bit of cornmeal on the hot pizza stone right before I place the pizza on it. Delicious.

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rinabeana on 7.15.2015

I always use parchment, whether my pizza crust is bread-based or veggie-based. I build my pizza on a sheet of parchment on top of a rimless cookie sheet roughly the same size as my (rectangular) stone. Then when it’s time to go in the oven, I position the cookie sheet over the stone (being very careful not to touch the stone) and pull the parchment (and pizza) onto the stone. Removal is just the reverse, positioning the cookie sheet near the front edge of the parchment and carefully sliding back on. Then I can easily transfer to my cutting board. Bread crusts will slide off the parchment, but I slice veggie-crust pizzas right on the parchment.

Speaking of veggie crust pizzas, that’s the go-to in our house. Once I discovered Food and the City’s skinny zucchini pizza crust recipe, we have pizza a lot more often than we used to. I’ve modified to use half grated carrot and half grated zucchini and incorporate some nutritional yeast. AMAZING! My husband’s favorite toppings are homemade sauce, shredded mozzarella and turkey pepperoni. However, I like to experiment every once in a while. The veggie crust pizza can’t be picked up and eaten like traditional pizza, but the crust does set pretty nicely and is quite firm for leftovers on day 2.

I’m rather partial to Bev Weidner’s roasted butternut squash and kale pizza. My favorite bread pizza crust uses whole wheat flour and cornmeal. For the squash pizza, I pureed the roasted squash & onion and spread it on the crust like a sauce before topping with kale/garlic and cheese (in that order). Awesome!

Elaine Pool on 7.15.2015

Kim, the parchment really doesn’t burn? Getting the assembled pizza to my stone in the oven is my greatest challenge. If I can use parchment to facilitate, I’ll be in pizza heaven!

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C. L. ( Cheryl ) "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser on 7.15.2015

We certainly love homemade pizza at our home! Happy Wednesday to All!

kim on 7.15.2015

It took me awhile to get comfortable working with dough, since I’m more of a cook than a baker, and I’ve never made bread. But my desire for paper thin dough and a lack of good pizza delivery options forced me to try.

I’ve found that homemade pizza dough isn’t difficult to make, and pizzas made with that homemade dough are not difficult to make. It just takes me too much time to do both on the same day. So I like to make the dough – two batches, enough for four pizzas, from a Kitchen-Aid mixer recipe book, very simple – on the weekend.

I keep one ball in the fridge to use that week and freeze the other three. That way I can roll out the dough, top it, and have dee-licious thin pizza in about 20 minutes on a work night. The next week I’ll pull a ball of dough out on, say, a Monday and have pizza on Wednesday night.

I keep the toppings crazy simple. I use a can of San Marzano tomatoes that I’ve smoothed out with an immersion blender for my sauce, refrigerating the leftovers. We like a low fat Genoa or dry salami with whatever strong cheese I have in the fridge – provolone is great – some fresh basil and fresh mozzarella. If we don’t have one of the above toppings we just forge ahead anyway, using what we do have. In the summer it’s often peppers or fresh tomatoes from the garden. I always finish with some good freshly grated parm, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt.

I bought a pizza stone, which has made such a difference in getting that crisp crust I like. Just heat the oven to 450 (I know people say 500, but it makes my never-quite-clean oven smoke) with the stone in place for about 30 minutes. I roll out the dough on a piece of parchment on a cutting board, twist a little edge around it to keep the sauce in, top it and slide it, parchment included, to the stone. It only takes 10 minutes or so, depending on the toppings, and we eat it piping hot, sometimes standing at the stove like crazy people.

More fresh basil or some tender greens, like baby arugula, are delicious on top after the pizza comes out of the oven.