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Pizza - can it be done in an apartment kitchen?

All,

I'm contemplating the acquisition of a pizza stone. But only on the assumption that the pitiful attempt I made at pizza a few weeks ago can be improved on with time, attention, the right ingredients, the right equipment.

Is it possible? End goal is thin-crust deliciousness. Limitations: standard apartment-dweller stuff. Electric oven. Normal kitchen accoutrements.

All suggestions gratefully received, and if you conclude I'm better off ordering in, that's fine too. There is some serious pizza talent around here!

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  1. I have a gas oven, but also have made mine in an apartment. I would highly recommend just using parchment paper rather than corn meal when you place the pizza on the stone, because you don't have the smoking problem that way. I didn't notice a big difference in the bottom of the crust, and it was well worth not setting off the smoke alarm, etc. A peel is very helpful.

    Best of luck to you!

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/571481

    1 Reply
    1. re: MMRuth

      Ooooo... very useful. Thanks MMRuth. Much obliged. See below for why. I really don't want to have to apologize to my neighbourhood firemen again. Or my neighbours. Most of whom have young children who would rather be in bed than standing out in the cold, waiting for the alarm to be turned off. ;-)

    2. Why or how did the last attempt fail? Thin crust pizza is the easiest to make and shouldn't fail. If you have an oven, you should never have to order in! What do you think happened?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        Sam,

        I don't know. I was with friends, and they had small children around, so flung me a bag of dough (I'm betting it came from Trader Joe's). I sort of made it up as I went along (a little smear of my own tomato sauce, little handful of prosciutto, bit of good cheese, bit of olive oil, bit of salt). I don't know where they set the oven, but I'm betting 350. I'm sure the crust wasn't as thin as it should have been. I know there wasn't a stone in there. Or a tile. Just a cookie sheet. And the crust, while brown and attractively crispy on the outside was... gummy near the center. Ugh. Really, you should assume I'm QUITE pizza-ignorant...

        1. re: linengirl

          lg, you probably just about had it! Roll out the dough evenly and thinly as you did and smear and top - maybe just let it go a bit more in the oven. Toasty along the edges and just a slight bit soft in the middle might be OK.

          Actually, I use rectangular pans for thin crust and do OK.

          1. re: linengirl

            With most pizza recipes, it will be softer in the
            center than around the outside. Nature of the beast.
            For crisper results, bake the dough a little first --
            say 10 minutes in a 300 degree oven. But unless
            you plan on using it often (or have a lot of
            sorage space), I wouldn't recommend buying a
            stone. Pizza is pizza, after all, not a $200 dish at a fancy
            restaurant.

          1. re: grampart

            475-500ish. And the venting in this apartment is incredibly dumb. The extractor-fan in the over-range microwave sucks up only a little bit, and what it sucks up it spews out... brilliant, yes? ... just below ceiling level. I found that out the hard way. Our local firemen are very nice guys, though. :D

          2. you can buy unglazed tiles for A LOT less than a pizza stone.

            and yes it can be done.

            1. I'm no pizza expert, but for days when you're feeling lazy:

              I make pizza on a baking sheet with some cheap, flavourless, doughy naan that comes out really nicely, and thin-crusted. I used to work at a restaurant that made naan pizza, so this isn't my own quirk.

              Obviously, you don't want spiced, whole-grain or high-quality naan. The stuff I buy looks like a disk of squishy styrofoam before I cook it. Slap some pizza sauce on it, grate some cheese, add sliced tomatoes and herbs, and bake at 375 until it's browned and crispy on the bottom. The naan also keeps in the freezer - defrost in microwave for 30 seconds before turning it into pizza. We never order in anymore.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Allison_

                when i'm feeling lazy (more oft than i ought admit) i go to my local pizzeria and buy uncooked dough from them

              2. i think it is absoltely doable. Maybe the key is to first find a dough recipe you like and then worry about the stone. I usually make mine on a cookie sheet and it gets nice and crusty and chewy.

                The only problem is once you start, you wont be able to order in again. Ive gone from making my own crust to making my own sauce. I suppose i will probably try cheese sometime :)

                1. Apartment dweller here with the electric oven, etc. We make pizza once a week, on a stone in a 500 F oven. We have lousy ventilation and a sensitive smoke detector, so we end up taking ithe detector down while using the oven.

                  Apt kitchen hasn't stopped us yet from cooking what we want.

                  1. Get the stone, linengirl! And get a pizza peel, too--it's big but decorative enough to hang on a wall. I'm making pizza at home on a stone in an electric oven with no vent at all. I set the temp to as high as it goes (525, just below broil), no cornmeal or anything on the stone, just when I'm working the dough I make sure the bottom is well-floured so it isn't sticky and will slide off the peel. It was good on the first try, excellent on the second. The middle comes out totally crispy, the rim perfectly puffed. Once when I made the center crust too thin the cheese leaked through on to the stone (and the oven door and the floor), so now I'm making sure I stop stretching it before I can see through it.

                    And even if you end up ordering in, you can use a pizza stone to reheat your slice to crispiness. It helps with pie crusts and roasted potatoes as well, anything where you can put the baking dish on the stone to get extra heat onto the bottom. Good luck!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: heidipie

                      You can dispense with the peel if you have a cookie sheet that has 3 sides or less if storage space is a issue. Great pizza is quite easy in a apartment, even with a electric oven.

                      http://www.pizzamaking.com/

                    2. Of course it's possible to make a good thin crust pie in an apartment setup.

                      A pizza stone will help, but really all it takes is a little trial and error to get a hold of the idiosyncrasies of your oven, and how best to work and rest the pizza dough given the conditions (e.g. humidity, indoor temp, etc.) of your kitchen.

                      Good luck and enjoy.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        This is all tremendously helpful. I am going to go off and play with pizza dough tomorrow. Thank you much, ladies and gentlemen! And happy New Year to all...

                        1. re: linengirl

                          And just to keep the fire department happy, you might want to give the oven a bit of a cleaning before you crank it up to it's max temperature. And if you use parchment paper and happen to have a cookie sheet with no lip, you can use it as a peel, as Kelli suggested.

                          ps - you may be able to get some tiles for a little less than a pizza stone, but if you can consistently lay a pizza on them without shifting them or dropping your pizza over the edges, you're a better chef than I. You can get a decent 14 by 16 inch stone for $20-30 at Sur la Table or other places, so how much can you really save? And a stone really does make a difference compared to using a baking sheet. You won't get the best bottom crust without one.

                      2. I'm also in an apartment and I make pizza all the time. The trick is to crank up the oven really high and be patient. I make either pan pizza in a cookie sheet or I make thin crust on a stone. I found that if I want to put heavier toppings on the dough it works better to cook the dough halfway and then put the toppings.

                        Good luck! And if you make a few mistakes..pizza dough is cheap..

                        1. I've made pizza quite successfully in an apartment. I did however run into the problem that my pizza peel was too long to successfully front load the pizza, at one apartment, so it got a shimy side shake. Like mentioned about, be patient with the heat up to give the stone a great start and if smoke is a concern, parchment. Good luck.