(These are selected Q & As from "Ask Pizzameister" email.)
- How can I make the crust crisper?
Stretch/roll out the dough thinner and/or use less yeast (-50%) to reduce thickness and bake the pizza on a pizza stone at 500°F+.
- How can I make a thicker crust?
Stretch/roll out the dough thicker and/or use more yeast (+50%), and allow the crust to rise for 30+ minutes before topping and baking.
- Is there info available on a home wood-burning pizza oven?
I know of at least three home ovens on the market, links are: EarthStone Ovens,
Mugnaini Imports, Forno Bravo. If you are interested in building your own oven, check out these plans and this book .
- Do you know of any magazines that are devoted to pizza?
"Pizza Today" is the magazine of the National Association of Pizza Operators.
- Your recipes are just cheap * American imitations from * arrogant Yanks!! How about some REAL pizza recipes from Italy? (*Aussie expletives edited out)
My most authentic Italian-type recipe is Pizza Margherita. For authentic pizza recipes, The Italian Baker pages 273-284 and Pizza are recommended.
- How do you make a pizza crust that is chewier than the regular dough recipes?
Use bread flour with high gluten content to make your crust
chewier. Standard available American brands are Gold Medal Better For Bread and Pillsbury Bread Flour. If you are already using bread flour and want more chewy, add vital wheat gluten to boost the gluten content (start with 2 tablespoons per 4-5 cups flour).
- How do you make a cracker-like pizza crust?
Use a recipe for unleavened pizza dough (ref. page 29 of - The Ultimate Pizza). An unleavened dough recipe simply omits the yeast and rising steps of a regular dough recipe. Then for baking, the dough is rolled out very thin, for example, a four 4-ounce piece is rolled out into a 7- to 8-inch circle.
- To store pizza dough in the refrigerator for use later in the week, do I store before or after it's risen?
You can do it both ways, either let the dough rise first then refrigerate, or let the dough rise in the refrigerator. Currently, I prefer a "refrigerator rise" for two reasons - it lets the yeast dough "season" and for the convenience of having pizza dough handy and ready to make pizza as soon as my pizza stone is heated. See my recipe for sponge dough.
- Why do a lot of recipes call for virgin olive oil? What is the difference between that and regular crisco oil?
Olive oil is emphasized in Italian food and pizza for its flavor versus a vegetable oil which is sort of flavorless. For pizza, you can add olive oil to toppings to enhance their flavor and keep from drying out, brush it onto the crust to promote a golden color, and add it to the crust dough to produce a hard exterior and a crumbly, rough-crumbed interior. Solid vegetable oil, Crisco, does not work well added to pizza dough since it would tend to give the crust a slightly greasy taste. I use solid Crisco to grease my pans, but otherwise I use extra virgin olive oil (more flavor than virgin) as a topping and to saute ingredients.
- What is a dough sponge? Is it flour that has risen?
A dough sponge is an initial short rise created by equal portions of flour and water and the yeast. Refer to my recipe for sponge dough. Using a sponge gives a more yeast-type flavor to the dough, and it also proofs the yeast before committing to the entire recipe. After the yeast has activated in the sponge, the bubbly pockets give the dough an appearance like a sponge.
- My pizza dough comes out tasting too "doughy". I tried sugar with the yeast, also honey with the yeast. Any ideas??
First read over my tips and secrets for some clues. Specifically, check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer. I bake my pizza on a stone on the bottom rack in a 500°F oven for a crisper pizza. If you bake directly on a pizza pan, moisture will be trapped in the crust versus moisture being absorbed by the stone.
- I was looking for a recipe for Italian pizza crust?
This is my recipe for Neapolitan dough.
- I have been making pizza dough with the same recipe for months. But the last 4 times, the dough did not rise. I bought more yeast from the store - same problem. What could I be doing wrong?
Something is zapping your yeast to keep it from activating. Try proofing the yeast by dissolving it in a cup of lukewarm water (100-105°F) and a pinch of sugar. If it's foamy after 10 minutes, your yeast is OK and then just add the yeast mixture to your flour along with the rest of the liquid and other ingredients and proceed with your recipe. I use Fermipan Instant Yeast, which I mailorder in a 1 lb. quantity from King Arthur Flour and keep in the freezer in a sealed container for a year.
- I live in Salt Lake City at approximately 5,000 feet above sea level. Any tips on making the dough better? It seems that any breads or crusts are
little too hard and crumby.
I located some high altitude tips on the Internet. I did make pizza at my brother's in Boulder and just used more liquid to get the dough consistency right. Your dough should be slightly sticky and have a silky look after kneading.
- My problem is that my cheese starts to burn before my crust is brown; I
have my oven set at 475°F and use a pan with small holes in it.
The pan even with holes still traps moisture from the crust and will still cook unevenly. I'd use either a pizza stone or a pizza screen. Pizza screens are really inexpensive and are available at a restaurant supply or on the net at A-Best. If you want to experiment with your pan some more, I'd try lowering the temperature to 425-450°F.
- I have been trying and trying to find out the nutritional information
about the pizza from several different fast food pizza places like Pizza Hut and Pizza, Pizza.
I tracked down nutritional info from Pizza Hut.
- I'm searching for a good recipe for pizza dough that I can make in my
Black and Decker bread machine. The recipe that came within the manual is not very good, has no flavor, and no elasticity to work with, it just tears.
I don't own a bread machine but there are lots of pizza dough recipes for bread machines on the net.
- What do you know about 'seasoning' a pizza pan? We are opening a pizzeria, my brother-in-law (who is from Italy) says these pans have to be what I
consider dirty in order to be effectively 'seasoned'.
I've always considered a seasoned pan as one with a blackened or discolored coating of mostly oil residue. I looked up seasoning a pan in both my favorite Chinese wok and Italian bread cookbooks and both refer to seasoning a pan with vegetable oil, and in the case of the wok, rubbing ginger on the surface. So my best guess is that 'seasoning' is mostly a baked-on oil residue.
- How do I get the pizza dough rim to bake crusty. I have a problem where the bottom cooks well, but the rim is so hard you could break a tooth?
Sounds like an oven temperature problem, too low. I bake my pizza in 8-10 minutes on a pizza stone (on the lowest rack) at 500°F and preheated for 1 hour. Use an oven thermometer to check and adjust your temperature. You may want to experiment with the best temperature to bake pizza for your oven and stone. I've tried in between 450-600°F, but 500°F seems to give the results I want in my oven.
- Do you have any suggestions for baking a pizza in a barbecue kettle?
I've grilled pizza indoors on my Jenn-air so should work the same with a
BBQ kettle. Use the same dough recipe as you normally would. Slide the pizza dough off onto the hot grill, just like you would onto a stone, from a floured peel or you can use a lipless pizza pan as a substitute peel. Brown the bottom, not blacken, so you have to check often, and turn over. Top with cheese, etc. and brown the other side, again checking often. Covering with kettle top at this point will melt the cheese and cook the toppings better.
- I really enjoy Gino's East pizza in Chicago but can't find anything like it in my home of San Francisco. Where can I find a recipe that is close?
I think the secret of Chicago deep-dish pizza is having a tender yeast dough
recipe - make dough more
tender by substituting milk or yogurt for half of water - and a good heavyweight
deep-dish pan from A-Best. Also,
there's an excellent Chicago deep-dish pizza cookbook.