Better pizza, but still not great

 I made pizza again at the weekend. I was a lot happier with the results this time, especially since both of them actually stayed in one piece, unlike my last attempt! They're still not round - perhaps I should just make rectangular pizza my trademark! In retrospect I could've made the bases thinner, but I think I was overly nervous about handling the dough. I have two balls of dough in the freezer now. I think I'll take one out for tomorrow night's dinner and see how I get on with that. 

 

Oh, after dividing up this batch of dough into three, I had a little bit left over, just enough to make a little pizza for Orla. She declared it "delicious". 

8 comments

Hello Anne,

Who says pizza has to be round?  It's the taste that matters.

Not sure what temperature you used to bake but higher is better.

My technique for shaping is to form a ball, flatten it slightly and then pick it up by the edge with two hands and let it stretch under its own weight as I rotate my grip hand by hand.  When it gets to about the right size I then place it back down and do a final stretch at the edges to get the shape.  This technique seems to give you a slightly thicker dough at the rim which is good for keeping the topping from spilling during baking.

Good luck with your projects.

Farinam

Try a baking stone. It helps keep the crust crispy,I also like to bake at 425 with the stone on the bottom rack of the oven

Looks tasty. Are you sliding that into the oven off a peel or putting it on a baking sheet?

 

My own experience with pizza has been that it got dramatically better when I a) used a very good and thick baking stone and b) turned up the oven as high as it would go - 500F in this case. It's still significantly cooler than a real pizza oven, but it means a reasonably thin round pizza cooks in five minutes, a bigger oblong pizza in 10-12.

 

If you're having trouble handling the dough, you could also try making a drier dough. That was another thing I used to have a lot of bother with - the dough of my beautiful pizza flipping over or tearing or spilling half the topping onto my baking stone. I was led astray by the strange machismo of the wet dough.

 Non-round pizzas are where I started too.  It was a good year into the process before, I could push out a round piece of dough.   One suggestion would be to start with a round piece of dough.  I weigh out 9 ounce balls of dough and put them in a round plastic container with a lid.  Grease the container with some EVO.  Glad makes disposible containers that are great for this application.  I don't throw the containers out.   I reuse them.   After the dough has risen in the container, throw a light coating of flour on the top of the dough round.  Then use a plastic bench scraper to work the flour down the sides of the container to release the dough.   After this is done, invert the plastic container and the dough ball should fall out onto your floured work surface.  There should be a fair amount of flour on your work surface.  You do not want the dough ball to stick.   Once the ball is on the work surface, use the tips of your fingers to knock down the dough ball and to start to increase the size of the dough round.   Dough does not like to be stretched.   By just using your finger tips, the gluten will not be activated as fast, which will allow you to push out the dough easier.   After working one side of the dough round with your finger tips, flip the dough round over and work the other side with your finger tips too.  Now comes the fun part.  Pick the dough round up and rest it on the backs of your hands.   Keeping your hands as close to the edge of the dough as possible is best.   Gently start pulling your two hands a part.   This will start stretching the edges of the dough round.  Avoid stretching along the diameter of the dough round.  Focus all your stretching energy on the circumference. Let gravity help you.  While you are working one part of the edge, let the dough hang.   Gravity alone will help the dough round get bigger.    If my description is confusing, then I would encourage you to take a class from the "University of Youtube".   There are endless videos out there that can help you improve your technique.  

 

I agree with investing in a good pizza stone for your oven.   Without one, the dough is never going to cook evenly.  The edges will start to burn before the center of the dough is completely baked.  To help with the transfer of the pizza round from the peel to the stone, consider using parchment paper under the pizza round.   This will ensure that the pizza round slips off the peel and onto the stone every time.   While the edges of the parchment paper will get dark, it will not burst into flames or do any other type of damage to your pizza.

 

I agree that you need to use the highest temperature that your oven has.  Mine will go to 550 degrees F.  Make sure to let the oven heat up for quite some time.  The pizza stone needs to be very hot.   At 550 degrees it take about 7 minutes to bake a pizza.

 

Be careful, pizza making is addictive.   I was unable to stop with oven baked pizza.   I ended up building a wood fired oven in my back yard.  That oven bakes pizzas at 900 degrees.   At that temperature, the pizza is fully cooked in 90 seconds or less.    As I could not move the oven in the back yard, my addiction resulted in the purchase of a mobile wood fired oven that I can now take where ever I want.   I now spend my free time sharing the art of wood fired pizza with whom ever will give me the time of day.   In order to pay for this addicition, I started a small company called www.standardpizzaco.com.   Pictures of the back yard oven as well as the mobile oven can be seen on that site.

@ DanW - that pizza oven is beautiful. I too once nursed the ambition to build  a wood fired oven. It's a like a kind of grail quest for some of us, I think.

Your oven looks real cool.  I would love to get one for myself one day.  So how are you doing with your business?

It would be great if you posted photos of your amazing sounding pizzas on your website.  I will have to try some of your creations myself.  I recently bought a kettle grill attachment for my charcoal Weber and I'm able to get the temperature over 700 - 800 degrees.  I'm sure it's not nearly as good as your mobile oven, but it will have to do for now!  How hot can you get your oven?

 

http://learningknowledgetomakepizza.blogspot.com/

Anne,

Your pizza looks perfectly good not round. You will become better at opening your dough with practice. It is the taste of the pizza that does matter. As long as someone says your pizza is delicious that is great.

I have been studying pizza for three years now and if you are interested this is my blog on some of the pizzas I have made

 

 That's what I am going to try next. I'll try and get it round - but who knows? watch this space.