You don’t need to spend $25 on a pie at your favorite downtown restaurant to enjoy good pizza. While we’re all for supporting local pizzerias, there’s something special about knowing you can create your own Italian masterpiece in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Here are several tips to get you going:
1. Start With Quality Ingredients
Start with fresh, high-quality ingredients. The flavor of your pizza will be directly influenced by the quality of the ingredients you use.
For best results, use fresh vegetables, high-quality meats, and your own tomato sauce.
It sounds difficult, but it’s really pretty simple to do. You just need ripe tomatoes and some extra time to mix a few basic ingredients. Here’s a step-by-step recipe.
2. Use the Right Oven
There’s nothing stopping you from using your kitchen’s standard oven to make pizza. (In fact, you can make a pretty decent pizza in your oven, assuming you use fresh ingredients.) But if you want to take your pizza-making skills to the next level, get a dedicated pizza oven.
An outdoor pizza oven is probably your best option. Modern versions are surprisingly small and don’t take up a massive footprint. You can place it on a counter and incorporate it into your existing grilling station.
3. Get Your Oven Set Correctly
Restaurant pizza ovens are often heated to extremely high temperatures. Preheat your oven to the highest temperature possible, usually between 450 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit, to get as close as possible to that environment. If it’s too cool, you’ll have to cook your pizza longer. This can result in pizza that’s the wrong consistency when it comes out.
4. Prepare Your Dough
Making a good pizza dough is crucial for a great homemade pizza. Here’s a basic recipe that you can follow:
- 1 1/2 cups of warm water (approximately 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups of bread flour (you can substitute with all-purpose flour if needed, though bread flour gives the best result)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 teaspoons of salt
In a bowl, you’ll combine the warm water and sugar – stirring until all of the sugar is fully dissolved. Then sprinkle some yeast on the water and let it sit like that for four or five minutes. Once you notice it’s becoming frothy, you can move on to preparing the dough.
In a mixing bowl, combine your flour and salt. Then pour the yeast mixture into the middle. Add a little olive oil and gradually mix all ingredients together until a sticky dough forms.
Next, knead the dough on a floured surface. (A clean counter is easy enough.) You’ll want to do this for roughly 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If it’s too sticky, just add a pinch more of flour.
Once the dough is kneaded, form it into a ball, place it in a bowl, and cover it with a towel or damp cloth. It’ll need an hour or two to rise. And voila! You have a dough that can be portioned out and rolled into a round pizza shape.
5. Be Balanced With Toppings
Don’t overload your pizza with toppings. A common mistake is to put too much on, which can result in a soggy crust and unevenly cooked toppings. Remember, less is more. And to get that golden, bubbly effect that restaurant pizzas have, sprinkle your cheese on top of your other toppings.
6. Let the Pizza Rest
Here’s one final secret: Let your pizza rest after taking it out of the oven. Giving it five to seven minutes of rest time on your counter prior to slicing will let the cheese set and prevent it from sliding everywhere when you cut into it.
Experiment and Have Fun
Don’t be afraid to try different flavor combinations or techniques. Part of the fun of making pizza at home is the ability to experiment and make it exactly how you like it.
You aren’t going to make the world’s best pizza on your first attempt. It might take half a dozen tries before you start to see some progress and end up with something you’re proud of.
But if you give it enough practice, you’ll eventually feel confident enough to make a pizza for your family and guests anytime you want.