What goes into making a delicious pizza? While our pizza chefs at Uncle Maddio’s certainly appear to make it look easy (dough, sauce, toppings, oven – done!), there is a lot of science and craft that goes into the creation of everyone’s favorite round delicacy. Here are 8 tips for making sure your pizza comes out as tasty as the same one’s you get at Uncle Maddio’s!
- Use a scale during prep
Pitfall #1 when making your own pizza is incorrectly measuring the amount of flour while making your dough. Your first instinct is presumably to measure out the flour using cup measurements. However the best way to measure is actually by weight – not volume. This is because flour can be compressed very easily. Pour some flour into a measuring cup and you might have 3 or 4 ounces. Scoop that same cup into a bag of flour and suddenly that 3 or 4 ounces can become 6 or 8. When you use a scale (this applies to all of your ingredients), you are making sure that the exact amount needed is being used.
- Make sure you choose the right type of flour
Having the right flour in your dough is essential to making your pizza perfect. It can also be the difference between a “meh” and “wow” reaction when your final product comes out of the oven. Pitfall #2 when making your own pizza is just grabbing a bag of ‘all purpose’ flour and expecting top shelf results. Make no mistake: all purpose flour will work fine, but for the restaurant-quality pizza dough that most prefer, you need high protein bread or pizza flour. This is specifically made to ensure you get a finer tasting and appearing crust.
- Before starting, decide on which style of pizza you want
New York vs Sicilian. Neapolitan vs Chicago. There are numerous styles of pizza to choose from, with each one having it’s own distinct style of crust, appearance, taste, etc. Don’t expect to open a recipe book and find one ‘end-all’ pizza recipe. Different styles will call for different amounts of ingredients in the pizza dough, preparation of the sauces, oven temperatures, and even how much cheese you finally decide to put on. What you are in the mood for will have a significant effect on exactly what goes into the foundation of your pizza.
- Need to Knead?
When you knead your dough, it is helping to develop gluten – this is the network of interconnected proteins that gives structure to dough-based goods (check out our previous blog entry about Gluten here!). While having a stand mixer is the preferred method for kneading, especially when you have a LOT of pizza dough to make, there are other viable options. One of which is just substituting a food processor for a stand mixer! There is also what is called “The No-Knead Method” that essentially relies on a longer fermentation time rather than physically kneading the dough to form the gluten strands. By using this method, you literally stir together all of our ingredients, cover your bowl with plastic wrap, and then let the dough sit out overnight. The following day, your dough will be ready to use.
- You can always just buy fresh dough
Not all of us are culinary experts or have an abundance of free time to be able to make fresh dough. At times it can be a very labor-intensive effort. Fortunately most organic grocery stores are there to save you the headache and time by providing DIY pizza kits that includes pizza dough. For the most part, these kits are pretty serviceable options and will certainly do the trick when it comes to making a delicious pizza.
- Rolling Pins can be your best friend
Restaurants have the advantage of using a special machine designed to flatten and ‘pre-stretch’ their pizzas. From there, it gets a lot easier to form and stretch dough into a perfect circle before it ultimately reaches your table. If you’re not confident in your dough-stretching abilities, simply use a rolling pin to assist in forming your pizza dough. Also – oval shaped pizzas can taste just as good as circle-shaped ones!
- It’s all about the top
Everyone hears about wild and amusing pizza creations from around the country. How outlandish can the next brand get to outdo their competitors…
Sometimes limiting yourself to a simply combination of traditional flavors can be more effective than using zany off-the-wall choices. Traditionally, most pizzas will call for approximately 3 toppings to effectively compliment the flavors of one another. Staying near this number helps to keep the pizza balanced and not overwhelming to one direction of tastes.
- Keep it hot!
Why do you think restaurant pizza tends to be more favorable than homemade pizza in terms of taste and quality? Following these tips SHOULD help make your pizza amazing and delicious, but yet most people still will choose going out over making their own. The difference? Oven heat. Commercial-grade ovens (generally speaking) can get hotter than the one in your house and that extra heat really does play a large part in making a better pizza. With a hotter oven, air and vapor bubbles inside the dough expand faster, causing the dough to become airy and full of holes. Some restaurant ovens are even specifically designed to heat hotter and more evenly (top and bottom) than others, giving a more distinct contrast between crisp exterior and light/fluffy interior.
Do you have any tips, tricks, or advice on making your pizza better?