One positive outcome of quarantine is a renewed enthusiasm for bread making. People cultivated sourdough starters to account for the lack of available yeast, or just threw their floured hands in the air and attempted a no-yeast dough. Pizza’s popularity was on the rise (not that it needed a reputation bump!), as home cooks made pizza in skillets, on grills, in pans, and on stones. We at Colavita are no different. Our love for pizza is only second to our love for olive oil, and thankfully the two go hand in hand! As we approach the cooler and cozier months of the year, let’s fire up those ovens together. To help you kick off National Pizza Month with ease, here is a list of helpful pizza making tips, tricks and recipes.
Making pizza at home is an easy process, but it’s best to have a few tools handy to make it all go more smoothly.
Scale: Bakers measure all their ingredients by weight. It’s a more accurate way to make sure you have the right amounts of all the ingredients. Specifically, for making bread and pizza dough, you’ll want to make sure that you have the proper ratio of flour to water. Having a digital scale makes this process easy.
Yeast: Make sure you have some packages of active dry yeast on hand, so your dough will rise. We’ll talk about natural yeasts a little later on.
Stand Mixer: We are all about using our stand mixers fitted with the dough hook to make our pizza dough. It really does make it easier. Of course, kneading by hand is possible, it will just take some time.
Dough scrapers: Having a plastic and a metal dough scraper on hand will help you get the dough out of your mixing bowl (plastic) and make forming them into individual balls (metal) easier.
Plastic wrap: Always protect your dough from the air so it doesn’t dry out. While it’s rising, cover it tightly in plastic wrap.
Parchment paper: If you’re baking your pizza on a baking sheet, line the baking sheet with some parchment paper. This way, you can easily slide the pizza off and onto a cutting board when it’s finished baking.
Pizza Stone / Pizza Peel: If you’re ready for next level baking, using a pizza peel and stone is a great way to get a crispy crust. The stone needs to heat in the oven for at least 30 minutes. Dust the pizza peel with a little flour and stretch your dough out directly on it. Top it and then slide it into the oven on top of the stone to bake.
Assorted specialty pans: If you get into making different styles of pizza, you’ll want the pans to help you achieve the right results. Chicago uses a 9” cake pan, while both Detroit and Sicilian use special steel or alloy rectangular pans.
Making your own dough can be an intimidating project. But don’t let it dissuade you! Once you get the hang of it, you’ll love getting your hands in the flour and you’ll find that you can make a more flavorful dough.
To begin, start with a simple dough using active dry yeast.
If you’d like to try one with a slightly different flavor, try our semolina dough. This dough has a slightly sweeter flavor and a more yellow color.
You can develop the flavor of your dough using a poolish or a sourdough starter as a leavening agent instead of active dry yeast. Both a poolish and a starter use yeast developed over time to enhance the flavor of the dough. A poolish uses equal amounts of flour and water, plus a small amount of active dry yeast. This mixture is allowed to develop for about 12 hours and creates a flavorful mixture (not unlike a sourdough) that will help your dough to rise. In contrast, a sourdough starter uses equal amounts of flour and water and no processed yeast to develop a natural leavening agent. Sourdough starters are usually kept for long periods of time and require maintenance, in the form of feeding. If you don’t feel like maintaining a starter, using a poolish is a great way to get all that flavor without the hassle of feeding a sourdough starter.
Of course, different pizzas have different dough recipes! I know, I know…you thought this was easy.
For Sicilian pizza, we use a focaccia-like dough.
Chicago pizza has its own special dough that is stronger so it can hold so many ingredients.
Pizza making at home can be as easy as topping dough in a pan, but it can also be so much more!
There are so many different styles of pizza to choose from, each with their own defining characteristics. Here are some of our favorites:
These days pizza toppings can get pretty creative. We encourage this creative kitchen play, but it may be helpful for you to keep a few tips in mind: