I thought I'd share some of my ideas and tips for making home made pizza, which is something I've been doing every few weeks for the past two years.
Full-write up with pictures:
-Use a good quality bread flour. I'm currently using King Arthur bread flour and it's wonderful.
-You really should use a good quality pizza stone to get that desired crisp crust and soft center. I got mine at a restaurant supply store for $50. The cheaper ones at Bed Bath and Beyond will shatter. I've broken two of those already.
-Preheat the oven at the highest setting for at least 45 mins. Don't assume the oven is ready when that light turns off, as the heat will continue to build up in the stone.
-About that dough -- if you're pressed for time, you can pick up prepared dough at Trader Joe's, but nothing beats the flavor and texture of home made. I'm using a dough recipe from Tyler Florence: http://tinyurl.com/mtvlcx (towards the bottom)
-I use a two-rise process, where I let the dough rise in a warm place for two house, then punch and reshape it, and place in the fridge for another 1-2 days. This isn't necessary and the first rise will suffice (but that second rise yields a nicer final texture).
-Dough stretching and tossing. This is toughest part and I still screw up. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Then, place on a flour surface, form into a thick circle about 1" thick. Now pick up and hang vertically using both hands; rotate the pizza on its vertical axis using hand-over-hand action. Gravity will stretch the dough for you. Do this quickly and you'll have a near-perfect circle. Tossing isn't really necessary unless the dough is large.
-Don't sauce and top the pizza too far in advance of placing it in the oven, otherwise, the sauce and water from the ingredients will make the dough soggy, leading to soggy crust. It's best to prepare the pizza right before it goes into the oven
-Don't pile on too many ingredients. You want everything to cook, right?
-Cooking times vary, maybe 10 mins, and turn the pizza 180-degrees about half-way through.
-Let the pizza rest for a few minutes before slicing. Don't bother with a fancy roller cutter -- just use your largest chef or Santoku knife.
-The best part -- enjoy!
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