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Homemade Pizza...Help!

I ordered a pizza stone from the local Pampered Chef lady and was excited to make one at home. I bought a ball of fresh dough from my local Italian market. The instructions I had, from a friend, said to put corn starch or flour on the stone, then roll out the dough. It took me what seemed like forever, but finally got the stuff rolled out. I was then told to prick it all over with a fork, and brush on some olive oil, and bake for 10-minutes at 450. She warned that I would probably have to prick it some more before it was finished, but I did not. At 10 minutes, it still looked kinda raw, so I added five more...I took it out, added pizza sauce, fresh thinly sliced tomatoes and onions, and an anchovy or 10. Baked it for 10-more minutes, still didn't look done. After another 10-the cheese had melted and actually browned so I grabbed it out quickly.

Although the taste was ok, the crust, at least at the edge, could have broken a tooth! I think I used too much sauce too, and maybe not enough cheese. It was my first time, and of course I will try again, but is there anything anyone sees that is a blatant error? I thought the crust should have been a little brown on the first bake, but maybe not?

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  1. There's no need to prebake the crust when you're cooking on a stone in a home oven. Just preheat the oven (and the stone) thoroughly, then slide the pizza onto the stone. One way to do that is to make the pizza on a sheet of Resist foil, which is silicon-coated, or on a piece of parchment. A more professional way is to sprinkle cornmeal or polenta on a baking peel, and slide the pizza onto the stone--but it takes practice. In any case, don't prebake the crust, just preheat the oven.

    1. Corn starch? ?? Try cornmeal. (Must've gotten lost in the translation.) Try reading up on doing a pizza crust on a stone; before your next attempt. Make sure your stone is preheated. Properly. Try 500°. Dough was probably too thin as well. You'll get a nice oven spring on the stone too. Remember. No oil on the stone too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cowguy

        Oops...I meant corn meal...sorry

      2. Did your dough have a chance to recover from rolling out? If it was difficult to roll, it may have been too cold, and dormant. It needs 20-25 min. in a warm area to get going again, but just barely, as there will be oven spring , after you assemble it and slide it into the oven.

        1. I like a really crisp crust and this is what I do:
          1. Make sure your dough is room temperature and remember that the protein in yer dough will cause it to contract if it's overworked once yer trying to shape it. Be gentle and stretch. If it causes you grief (i.e. it's contracting), cover it with plastic and allow the dough to chill out and relax itself.

          2. Preheat oven as hot as it will go for at least 30 minutes before you begin (it's best to do it 1 hr. before to make sure stone is rocket hot)

          3. I place my pizza round directly on the stone (no toppings) just by pulling out the rack and draping it on the stone. It's easier than a peel, you don't need cornmeal, and it never fails

          4. I bake the crust (no toppings) for about 4 minutes, or until i see some degree of browning around the thin areas of the crust. The crust bubbles up, yes, but i push them down when i sauce the crust.

          5. Important info about sauce: One thing I've found is that to get the super crisp crust, the sauce must be really thick (almost pastelike)...too thin, and you get a soggy crust...
          Sauce, then cheese, etc...

          I don't own a peel, just wooden cutting board which i abutt to the oven rack when the pizza is brown around the crust, then using tongs, slide pizza onto board.

          1. There's no need to parbake the crust in a home oven. You'll be fine if you just put everything on at once and pop it in the oven. As far as temperature goes, I'd put you oven on the highest setting available. You also don't want to poke it with a fork unless you're after a very dense crust, and also don't want to roll it out with a rolling pin. Doing either of these will knock the air bubbles out of the dough, and you want a nice, light, airy dough for pizza. You want to use your hands to flatten out the dough and form it.

            I'm assuming you were going for a NYC pizza. One of the best places to go to learn about pizzamaking is pizzamaking.com. There are step by step instructions there, and recipes for both the dough and sauce if you're inclined to try making either yourself. There's also a very good, step by step pictorial about making a NYC style pizza.

            http://www.pizzamaking.com/nystepbyst...

            1. I mostly agree with the other posts, especially the use of parchment paper to build the pizza on. It works well enough that you may never need a peel, just use an unlipped sheet pan or the back of a lipped one and slide the whole thing onto the stone. pre backing is not necessary.

              Do preheat the stone for at least 30 minutes in the top third of the oven, I set my oven for 550 (as hot as it goes). Let it reheat and dry out for 10 minutes or so between pizzas if doing multiples for crispier crusts.

              I use TJ's dough when I'm lazy (like last night), and if it seems to be fighting back I cover it with a damp cloth and let it rest for a while, it settles down and becomes friendly again.

              Don't oversauce! This leads to the toppings all sliding off when you pick up a slice. Cook your sauce down until it is almost paste-like and spread it thin. Even jarred sauces work well if you do this.

              Let the pizza rest for a few minutes before cutting, it will hold together better.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Scrapironchef

                I really appreciate all the help as I am NOT a baker, and dough just isn't my thing. How long is "a while"? 10 minutes or so? I couldn't believe it took me so long to roll out that crust!

                1. re: crosby_p

                  This is the thing about bread dough: It's got carbs and it's also got protien. When you stretch the dough, or knead it, or generally agitate it's composure, the protein in it gets all excited and starts flexing its muscles. Once it starts flexing it'll start contracting and there's no way in hell you'll get the dough to do what you want (i.e. roll out into a 10 inch circle). - I tell my kids that by working the dough (i.e. kneading, handling, slapping, etc) the dough can't help but start flexing it's muscles.

                  My advice for store bought dough:

                  Begin with a ball: Take that dough you bought and divide into two, keeping it covered with plastic at all times yer not working with it. With one lump, turn it into a real ball any way you can (bakers term this "rounding" and there are a number of ways to go about it, though it's crucial to getting a round pizza later in the game.)

                  Allow yer dough to rest. This means, keep it covered in plastic and DO NOT TOUCH, POKE, OR AGITATE it for at least 10 minutes. The dough is rested when you press it down and it stays down and doesn't contract on you. If it's not rested after 10 minutes, give it another 10 more. Depending on how much you jacked up the dough's protiein when rounding it, it could take between 5-25 minutes.

                  Once it no longer contracts, use yer fingers and palm to press down and pull dough out. You want to stretch the entirety of the dough, not just the top surface. Around this time I take the dough and place it on the back side of my floured hands and gently tug, whist rotating in a circular fashion to the desired size.

              2. I say the thing I fear the most in making a pizza, is having that dreaded raw dough gum-line where the sauce gets placed on the crust.

                I then must agree with Scrapironchef, that the sauce needs to be reduced in moisture. In a pinch, I may add some dry seasonings/cheeses spooned into the crust before adding on the sauce.

                I generally make white bread dough pan pizzas using just a basic half size commercial bake sheets. I prefer to mix half my precooked (drained) sausage, pizza sauce, and some parmesan cheese together. Then top with remaining sausage and real moz.

                1 Reply
                1. re: RShea78

                  I've also found that to keep the crust from getting soggy, the toppings need to be dry to start. I don't use tomato sauce, but hand crushed whole canned tomaotes. , at 1 can per 16" pie. But you have to really wring them out....I dump the whole can in a colander, and then squeeze the tomatoes by hand, to remove the juice. You want it to pack like a snowball, and a whole can will get you a ball about the size of a baseball. When you top the pie, it will look a bit thin (~50% coverage), but its plenty, and it seems to spread and get more uniform when it cooks.

                  Also, since it is uncooked and unseasoned, I season the pie a bit more. I microplane 1 clove of garlic into each can, and also top the tomatoes with very thinly sliced onion, which melts into the pie...not an onion topping.
                  If you are doing any other wet toppings, pre-cook them (e.g., saute veggies, crumbled sausage, etc. And last, if your mozz is wet (and it should be...no Polly-O!), slice it, and lay it on a paper towel, salt it, and cover and roll up for 10 mins to get excess moisture out.

                2. I don't bake either, but I have started making my own dough for pizza. I use the recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, and it has (knock on wood) come out perfectly every time. The ingredients are all cheap things that are probably in your cupboard, and I always make more than I need and freeze what's leftover. I use the dough for breadsticks, focaccia, pizza, and pretty much anytime I feel like getting compliments on something that took very little time or effort.

                  1. I have the same stone and make pizza every week. I preheat the stone on the lowest oven rack, with convection "on", at 550 for 1 hour. I pre-bake crust for 5 minutes, no oil. Then add sauce, a low-moisture mozzarella and turkey pepperoni (minimizing moisture laden ingredients helps deliver a non-soggy pizza). Cook 5 more minutes and remove. Cool for 5 minutes. Cut. Enjoy. Hit the gym all week and repeat in 7 days :)

                    Our crust is bubbly with a chewy interior. The middle of the pizza is crisp on bottom with a wickedly thin veneer of soft chewiness. I buy a dough ball, let it rise, roll it out on a flour covered counter, move to plate, cover and let rise again (about 30 minutes). Roll it one more time on a flour covered counter. Finally, I do dock the interior of my dough before baking. I bought a dough docker at a restaurant supply store...worked much better for me than my Psycho-inspired fork stabbing.

                    Keep experimenting. You will find your crust nirvana.

                    1. I make my own dough, let it do its resting/proofing thing. Turn on oven to highest setting and let it reach 450 or so, cook pizza on heavy duty cookie pan for ½ to 2/3 of the cooking time. Then I place it on the pizza stone for finish it off. Maybe 10 mins on the metal and 6 to 8 on stone.

                      I found my pizza to have too thick of a crust layer on the bottom with a pizza stone and under cooked on the bottom with metal pan. So I use them both.

                      I’ll be buying a real metal pizza pan and peel within the next few days. Having the right tools makes all the difference.