I’m the first person to tell you that having a lot of fancy equipment rarely makes the difference in quality cooking. A good knife, a pot, and a spoon to stir is all most cooks need to turn out yummy meals at home. But making a perfect pizza, well that is like making the perfect Southern fried chicken; it seems simple but is actually deceptively difficult. With fried chicken, its technique and practice. With pizza, the same things goes. However, the right equipment can really make a difference for pizza, especially when it comes to the crust!
Now, unless you are really a homemade pizza enthusiast, you won’t really want to take the time or invest the money to learn how to make pizzas like the pros. Making great pizza can be a daunting task. Just the difficulty many home cooks have with working with the dough is enough to dissuade them from tackling a pizza at home. But there is nothing like a pizza that you take the time to make yourself, with good cheese and all your favorite toppings. Why bother, though, if it’s going to turn out terrible?
Instead of picking up the phone or ordering a pizza online, or even popping in a frozen pizza, consider that perhaps you are not a bad pizza maker, but are simply working with the wrong equipment. Here are some great pizza making products that can make your pizza crafting experience a lot less difficult.
The Pizza Bible: Your Pizza Master Class!
Before you invest in pizza-making equipment, you may as well start with a great pizza cookbook. This book is basically a master class in pizza-making, covering nine different regional styles, including standards like Neapolitan, Roman, and Chicago, as well as renowned pizza sub-specialties like St. Louis and Californian, written by chef and 11-time world Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani. It also covers calzones and Focaccia. Product recommendations right down to the tomatoes are listed, including Tony’s go-to flours. This is a book for the serious pizza lover!
Super Pizza Peel
If you’ve ever tried to slide a pizza off a peel, only to find that it is much more difficult than the experts at the pizzeria make it seem, you’ll be interested in Tip For Getting Your Homemade Pizza to Slide Into the Oven. Perhaps the best-kept secret for homemade pizza makers is the Super Pizza Peel, which uses a pastry sheet on a conveyor system to deposit pizza, or any dough, neatly into the oven.
Pizza Stone (Firebrick Construction)
While it is not true that a pizza stone (or baking stone) will turn your oven into a professional brick oven (those use burning wood or coal), if you want your pizza dough to have that perfect crispy outside and chewy inside, you’ll need a stone to get it. Look for one that is made of the same brick material that lines kilns or furnaces, like this Old Stone Oven Rectangular Pizza Stone, insuring that it can stand up to the highest heat and have even heat distribution. Although actual stone is good as well, avoid baking stones made of compressed concrete. Tip: Heat the stone up until it is extremely hot, even hotter than your target oven temperature, then turn down the oven before sliding your pizza onto the stone. This will give the crust that blast of heat that yields a crispy and bubbly outside, while the inside is soft-chewy. If your pizza stone is not hot enough, it won’t work!
Most major pizza chains (Domino’s, etc.), and pizzerias, rely on pizza screens to send their pizzas through the oven. You may prefer your pizza baked on a pizza stone, but a pizza screen does allow for nice, even baking, with lots of air circulation. The advantage for the home cook is that there is no need to slide the pizza dough off a peel into the oven. The dough is simply shaped and then placed on the screen (allowing around two inches around the edge), and then the pizza is assembled right on the screen, before the whole thing is placed in the oven. As well, a pizza screen can by used on the outdoor grill! Keep in mind that you will need to generously spray your pizza screen with cooking spray before using it, and do not use harsh detergents to clean it (it will become nicely seasoned over time and turn a dark glossy brown color).
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