Sunday, July 3, 2011

Home-style Pizza

Unless you have a brick oven in your backyard, pizza isn't exactly something that you can make at home; the regular kitchen oven simply can't reach high enough temperatures. It is however possible to approach the flavors of a pizzeria-style pizza by using a few expedients.

There is more than one way to make home-style pizza, the method that I am about to describe is quick and reliable. As usual with Italian cuisine, quality and simplicity of the ingredients is essential. Pre-made bread shells, pizza sauce and pizza mozzarella must be avoided! Here is what you need:

- 1 perforated pizza pan
- 450 g bread dough (from a bakery or bought frozen in specialty stores)
- ¾ cup uncooked strained tomatoes (fresh or from a quality brand, e.g: Mutti, Pomì, Molisana)
- 300 g fresh bocconcini mozzarella
- some extra-virgin olive oil
- one pinch of salt
- one pinch of dried oregano (optional)
- some fresh basil leaves (optional)
- your favorite toppings (I used capers and onions)

The perforated pizza pan is essential to allow the dough to cook evenly without becoming crunchy. Its holes allow excess moisture and the CO2 produced by the leavening process to escape so that the dough can cook rapidly without forming bubbles. The thin aluminum allows the pan to match the temperature of the dough that lays on it, preventing any hardening.

First, warm up the oven to 450 °F (230 °C). Allow 15 minutes for the oven to fully reach its temperature.

Flatten the bread dough into a disc that fits the pan. The dough should feel fluffy and slightly elastic. If it's too elastic, give it some time to relax its gluten strands.

Coat the pan very lightly with some olive oil, then transfer the dough onto it (1).

Add the strained tomatoes, a pinch of salt, the oregano and any toppings that need to be fully cooked, e.g.: onions, fresh mushrooms, peppers (2).

Half-bake the pizza base for 7 minutes. This allows the dough to cook through, without the weight and moisture of the cheese.

While the base cooks, chop the mozzarella in small bites and prepare any additional toppings that don't need to be fully cooked, e.g.: capers, olives, ham.

Remove the pan from the oven (3) and quickly add the cheese and the remaining toppings. Put the pan back in the oven.

When the cheese is completely bubbly and starting to brown in some spots (after about 7-8 minutes), the pizza is ready (4).


Add a drizzle of olive oil or of chili oil (if desired) and the basil leaves, serve immediately.Home-style PizzaPaolo @ DisgracesOnTheMenu2 peopleIt is possible to approach the flavors of a pizzeria-style pizza by using a few expedients.07/03/201120 minutesItalian pizzahome-stylevegetarian


13 comments:

  1. :-))))) Great post... again! hehehe Ho appena comprato una "pizza stone" (non so nemmeno come si chiami in Italia!!!). L'ho provata solo 2 volte per ora, ma devo dire che non e' affatto male. Certo la pizza non e' come in pizzeria, ma meglio di altre pizze casalinghe. La base cuoce meglio che nelle teglie che usavo prima. But good ingredients are a MUST! ;-)

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  2. Thanks Manu :) I also own a "pizza stone" and it definitely works well. I somehow switched back to my old perforated pan... I guess my results weren't substantially better to justify the extra work of having to use a paddle to slide the pizza in and out the oven :) Maybe I'm just lazy!

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  3. I think in Italy is called...pizza stone (al massimo "pietra per pizza")! And I want one... But I never tried perforated pan, either, and seems it works just fine!
    I use "regular" non-stick pan and I'm quite satisfied, but I'd prefer a pizza more pizzeria-style :)

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  4. I am using a pizza stone that comes with handles, so that it can be moved in and out of the oven easily, and I usually put parchment paper on the pizza stone so I can move the pizza using the parchment paper and can avoid using the paddle.

    Also I do the oven at 500F sometimes even 550...

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  5. Pola, Giulietta, thanks for your feedback! I should probably give my pizza stone another chance :)

    It's interesting though that we all have developed our own systems to try and emulate pizzerias!

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  6. Wonderful post! I'm using baking stone in the oven. Do you think I should get this pizza pan?

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  7. Thanks Nami! As per your question, baking stone and higher temperatures are ultimately better to approach Neapolitan-style pizza. The perforated pan comes close though, and it's easier to use. What doesn't work very well for thin-crust pizza is the regular pan because it tends to overcook the bottom... My mom calls it "pizza biscottata", cookie-like :) The regular pan, however, works great at lower temperatures for thick pizzas and focacce.

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  8. This looks yummy. I use a pizza stone too and find our homemade pizzas are better than we can buy locally. I'll have to make a pizza and practice.

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  9. Nice post Paolo.

    Personally I become addicted to my pizza stone :)
    If you are using a stone here are some tips:

    - Put the stone in the oven when it's still cold in the lowest slot.
    - Heat the oven at the maximum temperature (usually 500 or 550).
    - Prepare the pizza on the paddle and slide it on top of the stone (as the stone will be really hot). It will take only 9-11 mins to cook at this temperature.
    - As for the tomato sauce if you can find San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes it will give you a big step up in quality compared to Mutti, Molisana and other.

    Happy pizza :)

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  10. Yum, yum, yum! I adore a good pizza and the combination of capers and onions sounds (and looks!) delectable!

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  11. I tried cooking pizza with a pizza stone on the grill and it is more than awesome! Just try and you will never go back: it also bubbled up!!

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  12. I agree, thank goodness for pizza delivery because it's difficult to replicate "real" pizza. I'll try doing it your way though, and hopefully I get great results.

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