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Need Pizza Help

  • l

When I make pizza from scratch, I am usually pleased with the results. I buy superior ingredients, and my crust turns out crisp and delicious. Sometimes I use a metal pizza pan, sometimes a stone, but I have pretty well mastered the art of a great crust. That isn't the problem. The problem is that instead of the flavors of the crust, the sauce, and the cheese all coming together to produce a "classic" pizza taste, I taste all three components separately. The result is often delicious, and what I consider better than what a typical pizza parlor turns out. And yet I'd still like it to taste more like what I can get from a parlor. How should I build the pizza so that the sauce and the cheese meld together better? When I make a pizza bianco, with just dough, ricotta and mozzarella, it turns out perfectly, but it's the tomato sauce that doesn't seem to blend well with the cheese. I mean even Domino's turns out a taste that somehow makes the cheese and the sauce blending happen, albeit in an inferior way. But my pie fails to produce the "sum of its parts" flavor that I am looking for. I usually bake at 450 degrees. Any advice out there to help me achieve what I have described? Perhaps a sauce recipe or other tips?


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  1. Check out this link, it should definitely help any questions you might have.

    Link: http://www.pizzamaking.com/

    1. Maybe try a simple tomato sauce? Or even just tomato slices rather than a fully cooked tomato sauce. Another idea might be to drizzle olive oil ontop of the pie after cooking, or onto the dough beforeputting the cheese and sauce on it.

      1. Put some tomato paste in your sauce which will thicken the sauce. By doing so it will give you the pizza parlor taste you desire.

        1. For me, what distinguishes pizza from plain tomato sauce (like for pasta) is often the combination of herbs used in pizza sauce. You might want to experiment with different fresh herbs to pin down that elusive flavor.

          Sorry I can't be more helpful, but personally I think oregano has a very "pizza-y" taste that I don't necessarily love in pasta sauce.

          1. why would you want your pizza to taste like that storebought cr*p? Like the sauce noted, most of em use tomato paste,loosened a bit of hot water and pomace oil(or worse), dried herbs and granulated stuff, viola!

            It's the lack of quality ingredients that make em taste like they do. Of course there are exceptions, but this holds true for 90% of the pizza out there.

            Enjoy yours.

            p.s. ya missing the salt?

            1. For starters, I would bake your pizza as hot as your oven will go. Mine goes up to about 550F. I only bake at a lower temp. for deep-dish. To help the cheese meld w/ the sauce better, I think that using a smooth marinara sauce w/ crushed tomatoes and grated cheese should help. Not sure what order you put on the sauce and cheese, but I've experienced a better "bond" when sauce goes down first and then the cheese.

              I personally like that there's distinction among my ingredients in homemade pizza instead of some cheesy mass ala Domino's. No matter what you do, it won't taste exactly like a pizza parlor and that's a good thing IMO. This is analogous to me shifting my expectations about homemade ice cream vs. commercial.

              1. I don't know why but if the tomato sauce is hot and not at room temperature, then my pizzas becomes watery and the cheese falls off too easily.

                Also I usually put a little bit of cheese on the dough before I put the tomato sauce on, then I put more cheese on after that.

                You can also thicken the sauce with tomato paste, as someone else suggested.

                You could also try using less sauce.

                Also, I bake at 500 degrees, even for deep dish pizzas.

                1. You may appreciate your homemade pizza more if you read Peter Rinehart's book, American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza, Ten Speed Press, 2003. The book contains 2 sections. One on his search, and the other contains recipes and methods.

                  1. Do not use a sauce. Instead , use the best whole canned tomatoes you can find. Crush them by hand and place them on top of your dough. Add some salt, pepper, and garlic. Then place your refrigerated ( yes, refrigerated ) fresh mozz. and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Bake at highest temp. your oven will allow and when the pie conmes out, sprinkle with fresh basil and parsley.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mike

                      Yes! Thatsa pizza!


                    2. You could get a head start on blending the sauce and cheese by incorporating some cheese in the sauce, as seems typical for commercial 'rias.

                      1. I don't get it. So you make a better pizza than the regular Ray-of-the-famous-original variety and you still want to learn to achieve that inferior taste? Huh.

                        Okay. First, start with different (inferior?) ingredients.

                        Cheese. Since you really didn't even describe how exactly you make your pizza, I assume that you use slices of fresh mozzarella. Classic pizza parlor use low-moisture mozz. And it's shredded. It's a different taste and it melts and blends in with the sauce. (And leaves a "nice" oily film on pizza. Very classic.)

                        Sauce. Use Redpack can tomato to make the sauce. (The puree is probably more authentic, since it is not as good.) Don't overcook the sauce. No need to use tomato paste, which should only be used for slow cooking sauces. Add some oregano.

                        Baking. For any pizza, good or otherwise, bake in a stone with the oven at the highest.

                        My technique is a little different than most. I put the stone on the floor of the oven. Much hotter that way. 4 minutes (or until you get a nice crust on the bottom) and then I turn the broiler on for another 4 minutes till the top is nicely done.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: mod'ern

                          "I don't get it. So you make a better pizza than the regular Ray-of-the-famous-original variety and you still want to learn to achieve that inferior taste? Huh."

                          I will try and explain myself. Even though my results are often tastier than what you'd get at a typical New York pizzeria, my pie doesn't taste like what I expect pizza to taste like. What I experience from my home made pie is a great crust, with a tasty sauce, and good melted cheese. As I explained earlier, the cheese and the sauce remain too separate, and do not produce a pizza parlor-like taste. And it is this taste that I want to replicate. I sometimes cut large thin slices/chunks from my mozzarella, other times I cut my own shreds, and other times still I use a box grater with the the large holes. This last technique most closely resembles the shredded mozzarella that most NYC pizzerias use. Sometimes I use non-fresh mozzarella, sometimes I use fresh, and sometimes I use a combination of both. If you want to talk brand names, I use Polly-O for the non fresh and usually Grande for the fresh. As for my sauce, I have tried many different recipes. I use Redpack as you have suggested. Sometimes I use canned whole tomatoes, sometimes the crushed tomatoes, but I always thicken with a little tomato paste, and I add oregano, black pepper, garlic, olive oil - the usual suspects. The sauce is very tasty. I usually simmer it for about 15 minutes. Sometimes I try an uncooked sauce where I just blend a can of whole Redpack tomatoes with a little tomato paste and add the seasonings. I then ladle this uncooked concoction onto my dough. It's tastier when cooked, but in the interest of possibly acheiving a superior blending of the sauce with the cheese, I have tried it every which way.

                          As for why I would prefer a pizza parlor taste to what I described as my own more delicious yet different pie, well, let's say that I want to experience the classic pizza parlor coming together of ingredients using the superior products that I buy. Suppose you were craving a classic 1950's hamburger, but what you received instead was a half pound of ground sirloin, perfectly charred, served rare atop a toasted onion brioche. This may be more delicious than what you were craving, but it's still not what you were craving.

                          When I visit some of my area's finest pizzerias, they outclass my homemade pies by far. And they do have the proper blending of ingredients that I am trying to replicate. My pie usually looks red and white. What I am trying to achieve is more orange-yellow with small shadings of red. So ultimately I am trying to recreate the offerings of superior pizza parlors, not inferior ones, and yet I am jealous of the ability of even the inferior parlors' technique toward acheiving the coming together of ingredients that I have tried to describe.

                          1. re: Laura D

                            You might try leaving out the paste. I've noticed that when I make pizza sauce with paste it tends to "stand up" a little too much. A runny-er sauce might give you that orange shading.

                            Also, it seems that you're shooting for a minimally sauced pizza. Maybe you're putting on too much sauce?

                            I also found that if I made the cooked sauce a day earlier, the flavors melded together a bit better.

                            1. re: Laura D

                              its the oven, no shi*. If thats what youre looking for you can't replicate it at home unless you install a coal or wood burning oven.

                              Simple as that ;). Them chains-and most other pizza joints_use conveyor ovens for the pizza. They suxk. Try tossing your pizza stone on the bbq(wood fired)and cook it to try to replicate-ignore if your favorite place sticks em in one end and they come out the other...

                              1. re: Laura D

                                It appears the sauce you have is too watery. Even though it may not seem that way, but when you salt and cook it the second time it brings out the water. Do not use the juice that comes with the tomatoes, add tomatoe sauce if you'd like but drain out the juice.

                                As for the sauce ingredients, add some dry basil, garlic powder and dried chili flakes in your sauce.

                                1. re: Laura D

                                  I will second the suggestion by 'thesteiner' and that is to contact the folks on www.pizzamaking.com. I know of no better source to address all manner of pizza related issues. It's amazing the lengths some of the posters on that site have gone to in the pursuit of perfecting homemade pizza.

                                  Link: http://www.pizzamaking.com/

                                  1. re: Scagnetti

                                    the pic below does not look like a NY-style pizza. Are you kiddin' me?!

                                    Link: http://www.pizzamaking.com/newyorksty...

                              2. My uncle makes some of the best pizza I've ever had (at home or at the parlor), and he swears by this trick: mix some pesto - heavy on the parmesan - into the sauce. The sauce is basically tomato purée.

                                And it's better with smoked mozzarella than with fresh, IMHO. If you weren't looking for traditional, I'd say try fontina, but...

                                1. Laura, I'm afraid you will never truly achieve that melding of flavors that you desire,for one simple reason. A home oven can never reach the temperatures that a commercial pizza oven can. The best a home oven can reach is 550-600, while, a pizza oven can go to 700-800+. The higher temps allow the sauce and cheese to carmelize into that familiar,elusive state. In addition, the higher temps are needed for the crust to be crisp, but chewy at the same time. A possible alternative is an outdoor
                                  gas grill, which can sometimes achieve 700+. In addition, a pizza stone, or unglazed quarry tiles is another essential element in the quest for pizzeria-style pizza. It give the crust that much needed spring and snap. Hope this helps.

                                  1. As we search for the best pizza in NY on my radio show, "Leftovers" on 1190am every saturday morning, many people have shared their special pizza secrets. FYI cheese wasn't introduced to pizza until 1889 when the people of Naples added it along with fresh basil to honor Queen Margherita Teresa Giovanni. Thin crust, sauce that is cooked for the first time when it hits the dough and topped with fresh mozzarella, pinch of herbs and bingo..you mangia! Not too much sauce which will prevent the cheese, dough and sauce from "Melding". A stone is best and the hotter the oven the better. In Naples the oven get up to 600-700 degrees F. We can only get 500. Be sure the stone is hot before pizza is applied. For more info visit us on the air sat. mornings. Best Dishes, Chef Mike