Making pizza at home has become a post-pandemic culinary craze. What looks like a long and arduous undertaking is within everyone’s reach, with the right ingredients and gear. Here’s how to bake pizzas worthy of a Neapolitan pizza maker in the comfort of your home.
For starters, let’s debunk a couple of pizza myths: a professional oven is not the only way to make authentic pizza and homemade pizza is no less good than that of a pizzeria. The quality and attention to ingredients, in many places, are still at very low levels: poor quality tomato sauce and mozzarella, non-extra virgin olive oil, improperly leavened doughs.
Simplifying as much as possible, a digestible and tasty pizza depends on three factors: the dough, the baking and the seasoning.
The dough: quick with good ingredients
In Italy, above all, a real literature on how to make the perfect dough has spread. Very long and laborious procedures are often suggested. Considering also the times of realization of the pizza, instant-rising blends are a very valid alternative, if organic and of quality like those produced by some specialized mills in Italy. In this case the preparation is reduced to about twenty minutes, not half a day. Then the importance of oil must not be underestimated. For a good pizza result, both in terms of taste and digestibility, not only the oil must be an extra virgin, but also a good EVO oil. Consider that this oil makes the difference between greasing a pizza and making a good pizza.
Another thing to consider is to use a planetary mixer. Not so much for the time saving (a couple of minutes), but for a more uniform dough with less effort on your part, if you are not used to kneading by hand.
The baking: preheat the oven and roll out the dough well in the pan
How to bake your own pizza in the oven is an aspect that is often overlooked. A good temperature is essential for a good pizza. First of all remember to preheat the oven to 250° C (480° F), because the flour with added yeast begins to rise as soon as it is mixed with the water and therefore it will be important to bake it as soon as it is ready. Another aspect is the pan: if you are cooking for four people, you will need a very large one. If you don’t have one, you should divide the dough into two smaller pans. Regardless of the number of pans used, these must be oiled before rolling out the dough. The best way to flatten the dough is with the help of your fingertips so that you fill the entire pan. The dough will seem not enough and in any case too thin… it is normal, as it will grow during cooking. At this point, after seasoning the dough, you are ready to bake your pizza. Cooking is usually a matter of 20-25 minutes in a static oven, but keep in mind that cooking times vary from oven to oven.
The seasoning: look at the ingredients and timing
Using quality ingredients can truly change the fate of your pizza. The ingredients vary from recipe to recipe (here you will find the recipes for pizza marinara and margherita), among the most common are tomato sauce and mozzarella. If possible, it would be better to prefer high quality Italian ingredients. For the tomato sauce, the ideal is if it is based on San Marzano PDO tomatoes (“DOP” on Italian labels). For mozzarella is better if fiordilatte, ideal if PDO fiordilatte di Agerola.
Be careful that not all the pizza ingredients must be added before baking and this must be verified recipe by recipe. For example, if you wanted to make a margherita pizza, the diced mozzarella should be placed on the pizza only 5 minutes before removing it from the oven, unlike the tomato sauce which should be spread before baking. Other elements, such as basil leaves, should be placed at the end. Often it is also customary to season pizza a crudo with EVO oil. Here more than ever the considerations on a high quality EVO oil are valid. Finally, even if not for all pizza recipes and not for all palates, it can be a good thing to have a bottle of spicy EVO oil (flavored with chilli) on the table, to allow this type of addition to those who like it.