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Please help me improve my pizza further

My pizzas are improving week on week with some good advice, but can anyone hand me secret tips?

Here's what I have so far:

Shape the dough like this: http://joepastry.com/index.php?cat=155
keep a baking tray at the top of the oven while it's preheating, then add water when you insert the pizza to create steam
Leave the pizza dough in the fridge for one day
Get a pizza stone (not done yet

)

I think the main area to improve is the flavour of the dough. It still tastes like cheap store-bought bases

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  1. If you like the flavor of sour dough you might like to try using a sour dough starter. I am fond
    of the flavor and always make my dough with a sour dough starter. I feel that it is a great
    improvement over straight dough
    Paul

    1 Reply
    1. re: paul balbin

      I am a little wary of making things very far in advance, although I was talking to Donna about sourdough. She thought it might have yoghurt in it :)

      I've always wanted to try making it though. Any recommended recipes?

    2. Look at "Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day" cook book. Not only will you have better crust but it's one of the easiest bread doughs to make and cook with. Far easier and better than the no knead method (though this one is "no knead" too).

      1 Reply
      1. re: Fuller

        Is there a recipe online?

        Just going to read that pizza site now, I'll check back on everyone soon

      2. Pre-heat stone on lowest rack in the oven, oven temp as hot as possible
        Plenty of salt, I'll use up to a tablespoon of salt for 5 cups of flour
        Try adding some semolina, maybe 20% of total flour, gives a nice chew to the crust

        1. Everything I know about pizza, I learned from this site.
          http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/inde...

          1 Reply
          1. re: grampart

            Will read that forthwith, thanks ;)

            Ok, I've just read through a few recipes, but nearly everything involves the same amount of ingredients... how important is the mixing time etc? I've made the classic mistake of overworking bread dough before. Would "overworked" pizza dough be a better thing?

            I don't do much to it, I generally mix it together until it looks a bit like you'd expect, and then a little more, maybe 1 minute extra?

          2. If you have the time, I would let you dough sit in the fridge for three days. Doing this you will notice a huge difference in taste. Also, I would recommend using bread flour, if you aren't doing it already. I noticed the bread flour gives the dough a much chewier texture.

            I never thought about putting a steam pan in the oven while I cook pizza. I use that method to bake some of my breads, but I am going to have to try that out. Does anyone else use a steam pan for their pizzas?

            29 Replies
            1. re: pcerepak

              I have started making pizza at home within the last year and after many trials I've finally settled on Peter Reinhart's Neo-Neopolitan Pizza Dough as my favorite. If you search on Google Books you can get the full recipe. Also, check out the freshloaf forums if you haven't been there yet, lots of good info.

              Also, if you're thinking about getting a stone, I highly recommend a Fibrament. Mine has been fantastic for pizza, bread and anything else I can throw at it.

              1. re: taylor04

                I actually used Peter Reinhart's recipe, and I still found it lacking.

                Sourdough may be the way forward. Thanks for the stone recommendation, but I'm not sure how easy that one will be to get for me personally (outside the US)

              2. re: pcerepak

                No. My guess is that water/steam in the oven is completely unnecessary. I don't think it would really hurt anything but I don't think it would be worth the trouble either. Pizza cooks fast. Real fast. Professional/commercial pizza ovens are not steam injected. Let's think about it: you've got a wet sauce, wet cheese, sometimes wet tomatoes/vegetables or meats (which release fat)... why would you add steam to the oven? Well I know WHY you add steam (to allow the crust of the bread to expand to it's fullest) but pizza crust is not a boule.

                1. re: Fuller

                  Although I don't do it, I think a spritz or three of water from a spray bottle would do the trick.

                    1. re: Fuller

                      Possibly, crispen the cornicione.

                      1. re: Fuller

                        Fuller, as below, without a stone my pizzas take 15m + is it still pointless?

                        I have to say, I chucked the base in for 2 minutes on it's own before toppings just to crisp it a little (I used tomato sauce, despite ostensibly making a "neopolitan") and when retrieved, there was steam coming off (before adding water to the pan).

                        But yes, I was thinking of breadmaking.

                    2. re: Fuller

                      Agreed. the toppings are creating steam. and i cook pizza in 4 minutes, so i can't imagine adding steam would matter. there are plenty of people who seem to cook pizza for 15 or 20 minutes (i have no idea how that would taste), so maybe steam might help then.

                      1. re: tommy

                        You have a pizza stone? even at full whack my pizzas still take 15 minutes or so.

                        1. re: Soop

                          yup, I have a pizza stone. oven on its highest temp.

                          1. re: Soop

                            I use a Fibrament stone and my oven temp reaches about 575 after an hour preheat AFTER the 550 preset is reached and my pizzas still take about 7 minutes.

                        2. re: Fuller

                          I should think steam would work against a crispy crust. For breads, early steam is followed by further baking without steam. Pizzas aren't in the oven long enough for that further baking without steam.

                          Try leaving the dough in the fridge for two or three days.

                          When you get your stone, test it on different shelves of the oven, until the bottom and top of the pizza are baked properly in the same amount of time.

                          Put your oven at its hottest temp, and preheat the stone at least 45 minutes, but an hour is better.

                          I myself am not keen on sugar in a pizza dough.

                          When you remove the pizza from the oven, put it on a cooling rack for a minute or so, before you put it onto the pan. Otherwise, steam can form under the pizza and make the crust less crisp.

                          1. re: Channa

                            My pizza recipe suggests putting the stone in the oven to heat up. You make the pizza on a board covered with a sprinkle of flour and a sprinkle of corn meal. When the pizza is ready to be cooked you slide it off the board and onto the hot stone. I tried that once and found it too way too much of a pain. One little sticky bit of dougn and all my toppings start rolling around while I try to shake the pizza onto the stone all they while not burn myself. Does anyone else do it that way?

                            BTW the pizza dough I use the most is awesome. Quick rise yeast 1 minute in the food processor, 2 minutes of kneading, rest for 20 and good to go! Flour, yeast, olive oil, salt and warm water. I can get the recipe if anyone wants to try it (it's at home and I'm at work)

                            1. re: julesincoq

                              if you're not sliding the pizza from a peel, how do you get it in the oven?

                              1. re: tommy

                                The idea is that the corn meal will allow it to slide right off the board. A small pizza does but a larger one gets all streched out of shape.

                                What's a peel?

                                1. re: julesincoq

                                  How do you get your pizza onto the stone? You said that you tried to slide it off the board once, but it was too much of a pain. So what is you alternate approach?

                                  1. re: tommy

                                    I've been making smaller pizzas so they will slide off my board more easily. What I'd like is an assistant to two to help me slide it off with a couple of spatulas while I hold the board (I'm a one adult household). A peel would be a good idea.

                                    I just want to make a big pizza so we can all eat at the same time and I'm not jumping up and down to get the next one out.

                                    I have done large pizzas (rectangle shaped) on an up-side-down cookiesheet and just slide the whole thing in cold. The crust is ok but not nearly as crispy. I have also tried cooking the crust part way through (same method) and then taking it out and topping it and putting it back in. This way even if it's not being slid onto a hot stone it is at least getting more cook time.

                                    Maybe what I need is a big stone and partly cook the large crust first and then slide it onto a hot stone. It would slide better if it was already partly cooked......Will have to search for a big stone and try that way next. Thanks for getting me thinking about it!!

                                    1. re: julesincoq

                                      I think you just need more cornmeal and evidently a larger pizza stone. A large rectangle works best. Those cheap things (my opinion of course) from Bed Bath & Beyond aren't worth the money. Look online - I can suggest a fibrament - someone mentioned that earlier up the thread.

                                      In other words, I wouldn't pre-bake, then top, then finish. Use cornmeal, and make sure that it isn't sticking BEFORE you get it to the oven.

                                      1. re: Fuller

                                        I agree with this. Go to your local tile shop and get an unglazed query tile.

                                        I have one big enough to barely fit in my oven which allows me to cook larger pizzas. Granted this may be overkill, it allows me to vary my pizza sizes whenever I want not worry about it sliding off the edge.

                                  2. re: julesincoq

                                    A peel is the large wooden (or metal) "spatula" for lack of a better term. The peel is the "board" you're referring to.

                                    A pizza stone REQUIRES preheating to work. It should not be a suggestion, a question or an argument: a pizza stone needs to be preheated. Otherwise you might as well just be baking on a cookie sheet. If your dough is sticking to the board/peel use more cornmeal. It's how the professional kitchens/pizzerias do it and it's also how home bakers who know how to use pizza stones and peels correctly do it.

                                    So to answer your question "Does anyone else do it that way?" Yes, everyone does it that way... if they're doing it correctly.

                                    1. re: Fuller

                                      This is a great peel. The only drawback is you're limited to a 14"-15" max diameter.
                                      http://www.superpeel.com/

                                      1. re: grampart

                                        I'm sure they're nice but unless you're hanging it for decoration, there are far cheaper options.

                                        1. re: Fuller

                                          i don't think you're understanding what the superpeel does. it meets the needs of julesincoq, as far as "helpers" go.

                                          1. re: Fuller

                                            If one has problems getting the pie off the peel, they are indispensable. Also, you don't have all that mess of corn meal on the stone, in the oven, and (worst of all) stuck to the bottom of the pie.

                                  3. re: julesincoq

                                    Try rice flour instead of cornmeal of lots of regular flour. It's super slippery, and makes transfer from the peel to the placing peel (in my case, for the WFO) or to a stone a cinch.

                                    1. re: modthyrth

                                      Wow you guys are amazing! Thanks for your help. I only make pizza for a treat now and again (low carber) but I'm really looking forward to trying out your tips. Need to get a propper peel and a better stone. Fun!

                                      1. re: julesincoq

                                        To get it to slide, you want something with small, spherical grains, like polenta or something. they act like mini ballbearings.

                                        1. re: Soop

                                          flour works and doesn't add corn flavor, which is oftentimes preferable.

                              2. re: pcerepak

                                I haven't had bread flour for a while, just the last of my all-purpose - and now I've just bought 1.5kg more. Still, it's not like flour goes off too quick. I'll get some nice stuff.

                                Thanks for the tip on the slow rise.