Even if you’ve been inclined to make your own pizzas at home in the past, you’ve probably been disappointed that they never turn out like the professional pies you’re served at pizzerias. And we’re not even talking about popping a pre-made, frozen pizza in the oven – we’re talking about making your own dough from scratch and personalizing your pizzas with homemade sauce and fresh ingredients for toppings. Even with all that in your favor, you still might not be able to figure out what makes professional pizzas so much better than yours. Here are a few tips that could elevate your pie-making skills and give you the professional-grade pizzas you crave without having to leave your home or order takeout.
The place to begin if you want to create professional pizza pies at home is by finding a great dough recipe. The problem is that there are so many to choose from. What you might want to do is start with the simplest recipe you come across. One that involves minimal ingredients (flour, water, and yeast, for example) and only has to rise once following kneading is a great place to begin. Once you’ve mastered the nuances of a simple recipe you can move on to more complex recipes in your pursuit of the perfect pie.
Next, you’ll want to consider the sauce, but here your best bet is really to find a ready-made sauce you like. So much work goes into creating pasta sauce and you’ll discover, much to your chagrin, that it is practically impossible to tell the difference between homemade and store-bought. So pick up a simple tomato and basil or olive oil and garlic sauce and then add whatever additional spices you enjoy before spreading it on your dough. As a bonus tip, make sure you don’t spread sauce all the way to the edge of the dough. Leave about an inch for the crust.
Next up are toppings, and while you can’t go wrong with cheese and more cheese, you need to take some care when adding toppings, especially those like tomatoes, eggplant, or mushrooms that can hold a lot of moisture and turn your pie into a soupy mess. The easy solution is to pre-cook these items and then add them to the pizza once they’ve cooled. You might also want to pre-cook tough toppings like onions and green peppers to make them easier to consume.
You’ve probably noticed that pizza joints have specialized ovens for cooking their offerings in. While fast-food style pizza places like Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Papa John’s use industrial ovens with conveyor belts that make sure every pizza is cooked the same every time, fancier joints use stone ovens that super heat to create a crust that is crispy on the outside while doughy and soft on the inside, as well as toppings that are perfectly sizzled.
You’re not likely to put a specialty oven in your kitchen for the sole purpose of making pizzas, but you can get a pizza stone to mimic the effect and you can crank your oven to 500 degrees to cook your pies. Mimicking the pies you pick up at Russo’s New York Pizzeria is no easy feat, but with trial and error you can create some truly good pizza at home. With the right recipes and a little patience, you’ll be cranking out pizza like the pros in no time.