HOWTO cook a kick-ass pizza crust in your home oven

Wanna cook a pizza at home, but are unwilling to cut up your oven so that you can get the self-clean cycle to run up to 800 degrees to get the crust just right? Try Heston "Fat Duck" Blumenthal's technique: stick an upside-down cast-iron skillet under the broiler, crank the heat up to max for 20 minutes and lay a slab of pizza dough (even the gunk from Domino's will do) for a minute and a half.

And here’s the good news: Although the Domino's dough looks horrid compared to the corner pizza’s store (dense and flat and a weird color), for thin-crust pizzas made in this cast-iron-and-broiler fashion, Domino's is actually ... really good. In a four-person blind-taste test, the favorite between Domino's and our corner pizzeria was split right down the middle. Honest. People couldn’t tell the difference. And the Domino's dough, probably due to some mysterious ingredients, was very, very easy to stretch into a pie. This cooking technique took dough from one of the worst pizzas available and made it taste good. The fact that Domino's foists doughy, disgusting pizzas on the public when it could easily do otherwise is almost a crime.
Pizza Hack: Broil Your Pies (via Kottke)


  1. Cory…Cory…No. Oh god no.

    I’m sorry, I must respectfully, vehemently, totally disagree with you utterly and wholly from the bottom of my adverb-filled heart.

    Pizza, in a pizza oven. Brick-built, wood fired, hot as hell, sweet as sin. Thin as a Parisian model or deep as an ocean of cheese and gravy, whatever the crust, you gotta fire it old school.

    Domino’s dough? I refute that that…stuff…is even dough. Pizza dough is loved, kneaded, touched, caressed and shaped. Sculpture for the oven.

    I’m a Chicagoan, man, you cut me and I bleed mozzarella. This is ketchup on hot dogs, this is mixing coke and pepsi. This is…this is anathema.

    Now I need a slice of Lou Malnati’s, or maybe Home Run Inn.

  2. Dude, buy a pizza stone. for about 28 bucks you get great pizza, not some blackened garbage.
    heat the oven to 550 for at least 45 min. and toss it on there. you’ve got pizza in about six minutes. thats with raw dough.
    it works great for delivery pizza too.
    it gives them a nice crispy crust that they cant get on their conveyer belts.

  3. You can also utilize a bottom rack in a gas or electric stove. 5 min at 500 degrees will crisp up any crust. Finish on middle rack for another 5 minutes.

  4. Yes, yes, yes. In an ideal world, we would all have a wood fired brick pizza oven. Sorry to have to be the one to reveal to you the reality that there are over eight million of us in NYC alone, who will never have a wood fired brick oven pizza oven in their apartments. For all of us, a pizza stone, or juggling a scorching hot slab of cast iron, is the closest we’ll get to making good (and even great) pizza at home. The next time your wood fired brick oven is in the shop, you should try this, it works.

  5. Cory, I am very confused by this story (not the linked story, but this posted one). How do you get Domino’s dough alone? Do they sell it by itself? Then it says the dough is “really good,” not it’s “disgusting.” Or is the writer saying Domino’s dough COULD taste better if Domino’s cooked it differently?

    “The fact that Domino’s foists doughy, disgusting pizzas on the public when it could easily do otherwise is almost a crime.”

    “A crime”? How do you think Tom Monaghan, the founder/owner of Domino’s, became RICH? He also OWNS the Detroit Tigers. He is a very well-known right wing outspoken religious fanatic. He grew up in an orphanage and isn’t press shy. I used to read about him all the time in the press.

    Some believe he didn’t make a HUGE FORTUNE by using quality ingredients or developing the best way to cook pizzas. Some could say the same for most fast food pizza. That’s based on the opinion of some (obviously not Domino’s customers), in case his peeps decide to sue for libel. Prove us wrong!

  6. Speaking of Chicago, will there be any posts about Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the Senate seat being for sale?

  7. @Chicago:

    Pizza is just water, flour, yeast, salt, heat and toppings. Wood and brick are not part of the equation. You’re not doing much to refute your reputation as a second class frontier town by babbling on and on about primitive cooking techniques.

    There’s nothing special about a brick oven. I cook pizza both in the regular oven and in a 700-900 degree lump coal fired ceramic beast that I’d put up against any brick oven. It’s all just heat, man.

    Get past your aesthetic hangups and learn to appreciate the science of the thing.

  8. #1 @mgfarrelly:

    Uh, ‘scuse me? Home Run Inn? Jimminy Halas Ditka Cricket on a Popsicle stick, Home Run Inn? That stuff is the disgusting of disgustings!

    You want real pizza, you go to Carmen’s on the north side. Then talk to me about pizza.

  9. You know, making your own dough is really, seriously not that difficult. For the “4 dollars” required to buy dough from Dominoes, you could make enough dough for an entire pizza party (speaking from experience).

    Get the book, “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day”. Then cut back on buying bread. You’ll thank me later.

    (The above link shows how to make dough that can be stored in the fridge, without kneading or added labor.)

  10. Cory





    Pizza dough is so dead simple to make from scratch – it ain’t chemistry, it ain’t rocket science, it ain’t haute cuisine – it’s flour, water, salt and yeast.

    Wood burning brick ovens? Yeah – t’would be nice – but it ain’t essential. A cheap pizza pan (one of those ones with holes in it) works fine. You wanna get fancy schmancy while stil cooking in your own oven? Get a cooking stone. Big slab of flat pottery you can cook all sorts of shit on and it tastes great.

    Pre-made gunky poo dough from a chemical laden chain store?



    And besides, as Poe gets older you’ll want her to experience the joy of cutting up tasty food bits and shredding cheese and dolloping out sauce and smearing it all around like finger paint – and then getting to eat it.


    Have I made my point?




  11. also functional is a piece of slate 2/3rds the dimensions of the oven, resting on the bottom of your oven.

    (for my pizza preferences, I really like “Espressos” in Fitchburg, MA (sweet), and for sheet variety of toppings “Antonio’s” of Amherst MA and College Station TX.

  12. Just get a pizza stone – fire the oven up to 500 and if you can make a decent dough or buy the fresh stuff from a certain retailer whose initials are TJ, you’re good to go.

  13. Oh, and a nudder ting!

    I’ve lived in NYC for the past three years. I can only occasionally get back to the city my arteries love to hate, which means that when I get that deep dish craving, I gotta make it on my own. Well, as you may or may not know, the origin of the deep dish pie goes back to Depression-era Chicago, when people were big into casseroles for reasons I am not sure of. Well this guy, he had this idea to make a pizza, but make it a casserole. So he does it, and voila, Chicago-style Deep Dish pizza. YFLMV (Your folklore may vary). Anyway, since this beloved dish is cooked like a casserole, you need no fancy oven to make it taste just like Malnati’s – just a simple, cheap deep-dish pizza stone like this one:

    I use this recipe to make my dough:,1977,FOOD_9936_21809,00.html

    I form it to the pan and then (here’s the trick for GOOD pizza:) I parbake the crust. Makes it nice and crispy.

    And for the filling, take a pound of mozzarella, cut it into 1/4-1/6″ thick round slices, put it down in one layer, throw some cooked italian sausage, mushrooms, and spinach on top of the cheese.

    For the sauce, you can use pretty much anything. I prefer to make my own, but whatever you use you GOTTA make sure it’s cooked down enough, otherwise water will accumulate on the surface of your pizza, making for a mess when cutting.

    Bake at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until the crust starts to come back from the stone and is golden brown.

  14. @Jennylens – “That’s based on the opinion of some (obviously not Domino’s customers), in case his peeps decide to sue for libel. Prove us wrong!”

    Uh, okay.

    First, US?

    Second, he bought Domino’s dough, so he’s a customer, obviously.

    P.S. if you happen to Krave Domino’s, I hear Motorola makes a pretty good cell phones you could call it in wit – your boss may just have one.

  15. Jeez, I was so enthralled with the idea of promulgating my recipe I forgot to state my main point: that Chicago-style pizza, with its casserole origins, does not require that crazy high heat. 425 is plenty.

  16. My internet went down as I tried to be poster #1 to this. sigh…

    Alton Brown has a great trick — instead of spending $40 on a pizza stone, he spent $4 at a hardware store on unglazed flat tile .

    I’ve heard that terra cotta and quarry stone both work. brick is generally bad, because it can trap moisture and explode.

    you can either line the bottom of your oven , or if you have a ‘sheet’ style, just pop it on a wire rack.

  17. ok, is it REALLY necessary to set the cast iron on the burner of my stove, on high, for that long? seems like a waste to me. it’s going to be good and freakin’ hot in half that time, easy. it IS iron… it conducts heat very, very well.

  18. #3: “He is a very well-known right wing outspoken religious fanatic.”

    Excellent. Now I can refuse to eat overly expensive, poorly assembled, cheaply sourced, minimum-waged shit pizza knowing im sticking it to Jesus too!

  19. So many pretentious pizza eaters… wow!

    Different types of pizza exist for different reasons and different levels of enjoyment.

    If you’re too good to eat Domino’s pizza dough, well, good for you, but I’ll gladly eat it.

    This article was great for what it was… Taking something that is often considered sub-par and making it into something great. That is the spirit of cooking!

    Do you need a wood-fired brick oven to make a great pizza? No. Do you need a baking stone? Nope… heck, an aluminum cookie sheet works just great.

    @ #9 –

    Pizza dough is more than flour, water, yeast, and salt. If you make the dough without sugar, the salt will retard the yeast, granted the levels of salt are low enough that it won’t retard it much, it still does. Great pizza dough also has olive oil in it. Even more important than the ingredients are the ratios you use. The ratios also change depending on what kind of crust you like. It is these small details that turn people away from making pizza at home. They lead to frustration and a lack of understanding as to why their crust turned out just-okay.

    My personal favorite pizza dough to buy? Trader Joe’s Organic… when they aren’t sold out of it.


  20. Franko: See the part where it says “broiler?”

    phillamb168: That’s correct, and the lower temp follows mainly from the (apparent) necessity for deep-dish pizza to taste like crap.

  21. Agree on the unglazed quarry tile. Cheap to buy. Fantastic crust. Plus, you can even throw your chain-storebought pie on a preheated set of tiles and improve the flavor and finish cooking the dough (unless they’ve already scorched it).

  22. RE: “#6 posted by Patrick Austin”

    You couldn’t be more wrong – the location, fuel and tools of cooking imparts quite a bit of flavor. The humidity alone changes the entire texture of things. You cannot make the same flavor and texture pizza in San Francisco that is made in NYC, for starters. Go do some reading before you spew such nonsense as “There’s nothing special about a brick oven” – the 50+ years of seasoning makes those NYC/Chicago ovens unique in a way your ceramic coal powered thing can’t hope to be in your lifetime.

    That being said, I’m sure you make a mean pizza. Just not the same taste as the NYC or Chicago classic style pizza that we* love so much. *We – a solid majority of pizza aficionados in this world.

  23. Giordano’s is the finest pizza in Chicago, and Orlando, and Louisville (where I live) although we don’t have a Giordano’s…but I wish we did. It’s the kind of pizza that you’d pay $50 to have shipped to you via FedEx. And they’ll do that for you too.

  24. #22 @ Skarbreeze

    50+ years of seasoning in a wood fired brick oven changes one thing: your mind.

    And that’s what these arguments boil down to: individual tastes. Please, don’t act like you’re speaking for the majority of the world. Pizza is different everywhere you go.

  25. @2 Seyo:

    Pshaw, this is why you go to your pizza man. If you can’t find one in NYC you are not trying and do not deserve proper pizza.

    @Patrick Austin:
    You’re not doing much to refute your reputation as a second class frontier town by babbling on and on about primitive cooking techniques.

    Yes. The second city where every notable comedian of the past 40 odd years hails from, where Oprah openly rules the earth from her stylish (yet affordable) throne and where Obama hangs his hat. We’re just a cow town. You undo yourself with those words sir.

    Get past your aesthetic hangups and learn to appreciate the science of the thing.

    Caravaggio was just applying chemical mixtures to canvas.

    A proper brick pizza oven is a craft. You want science, look at the smoke residue, the soak from the wood smoke in the cooking chamber, the grease and gristle that gives every oven it’s own flavor. It’s subtle, but good things always are my friend. Come to Chicago, I will buy you a slice of our second-city pizza and you will weep for your unkind words.


    I’m not speaking against Carmens, I just grew up on Home Run Inn. The crust is just perfection. It’s an embarrassment of riches man.

  26. #27 @mgfarrelly Perhaps I do your Home Run Inn a disservice. The only HRI pizza I’ve ever known has come, in one form or another, in a personal-pan-sized cardboard box at Dominick’s. Where’s their brick-and-mortar located (the one you’d recommend, that is)?

  27. “The fact that Domino’s foists doughy, disgusting pizzas on the public when it could easily do otherwise is almost a crime.”

    It’s a question of cook time and efficiency. The technique outlined is time and labor intensive.

    If dominos is anything like Pizza Hut, they use a conveyor-belt-based oven. Pop a slab of dough coated with toppings in one end, and it rolls out the other 10 minutes later, somewhat acceptably cooked.

    With its “30 minute delivery” promise, Dominos offers speed, not quality. If you want a quality pizza, order from somewhere where they allow themselves enough time to use a real oven. Delivery will take more than 30 minutes, though.

    Dominos only exists because of consumers that value speed and economy over quality.

  28. Here’s how I do it, and I’ve several people tell me I make pretty good pizza (One guy says it’s the best in Chicago, but he’s from Philly, so I don’t trust him)

    Get yourself a real baking stone, square or rectangular, and about 3/4 – 1″ thick. Get your oven heated up to 550 and let it sit there for about 20 minutes. Hotter would be better, but it’s not really necessary.

    For dough, it’s 1 packet of yeast, 1 cup of water, about 2 tbsp sugar or honey. Put all that into a bowl and stir. Next add a pinch of salt to retard the yeast a bit, and start mixing in flour. I use half all-purpose and half-bread flour. In the end I use between 3 and 4 cups total, depending on the relative humidity at the time. Knead until firm, but don’t over knead. This makes 3 medium or 2 large dough balls. Coat them in olive oil, cover them and let them rise about 1 hour, or put them in the fridge and take them out about 2 hours before you actually make the pizza.

    Sauce is where you can really start to get creative, but the basics are minced onions (about 1/4 of a yellow onion is good, sauteed in olive oil in the sauce pan) and some garlic mixed into a 15oz can of tomato sauce. Add some seasonings (Basil / italian seasonings / oregano / whatever you like) and a 6oz can of tomato paste if you want the sauce a bit thicker. Heat that all up for about 15 minutes, but make sure it’s cool to the touch when you put it on the dough, or it will stick to the peel.

    Once you’ve made the dough balls, you don’t knead the dough any more… you just flatten it out and start forming the crust right away, then streatching the inside to make it thin and round. put some corn meal down on the peel before you place the dough onto it, then add the sauce, cheese and toppings.

    Cook time is generally about 10 minutes, and I usually spin the pizza once because the back of my oven seems warmer than the front. Watch for the cheese to be bubbly browm, and the bottom crust should be a light brown as well. If your crust is hard but not browned, add more sugar to your recipe next time.

  29. You wanna know how to make pizza at home?

    Jeff Varasano is the man:

    He bypasses the safety switch to cook pizzas on the cleaning cycle to get the 800F temps of a wood oven. He’s my hero.

    I haven’t gone that far, but putting the pizza stone at the top of the oven and turning on the broiler (for those of us with electric ovens) works wonders.

    Another source for less-expensive cooking stones is an art supply stores: a kiln shelf makes a great stone, and is thicker than most cooking boutique options. I’m still using the stone my mom bought in the 70s.

  30. @phillamb168:

    Frozen Pizza? See, that’s your problem.

    The original is the best, they have a bunch of franchises in the burbs, I can’t speak for those. They’ve got ovens there that have been running since the 50’s. That build-up is flavoring. I ask for my pies cooked longer, I like a crispy crust. The Nick’s Super is perfection.

    Home Run Inn
    4254 W. 31st Street

  31. Actually, Jiffy makes a pretty good pizza crust mix (@50 cents per box), but I add a generous amount of olive oil to it. But for my money, going out in Chicago, it’s Geno’s East all the way.

  32. Before everyone goes running out to give money to Domino’s, don’t forget that it was founded, in part, by Tom Monaghan. Who is Tom Monaghan? He’s the person who founded Ave Maria ‘University’ in Florida, has spent millions on pro-life causes and hundreds of millions of dollars in ‘Catholic Philantrhopy’ and was embattled with the ACLU over the fact that he did not want his town, in Naples, Florida, where he built Ave Maria to sell contraceptives nor pornography.

    Just keep that in mind while giving money to Domino’s you are funding an anti-choice, anti-contraceptive, anti-pornography ‘philanthropist.’

  33. We always broil our pizza at home. A few minutes in the oven and then a minute or two under the broiler and it’s always fantastic.

  34. The nastiest pizza that I ever had was in Edinburgh. The bad thing about putting cockles on a pizza (besides the obvious intrinsic badness) is that the cockle juice keeps the crust from browning. It was like eating a slice of Cthulhu.

  35. My wife is a Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef who has been baking pizza experimentally for decades now. According to her, the traditional high-temperature pizza oven is only good for rapidly delivering a very thin crust, which more often than not comes out soggy, depending on the wetness of the ingredients.

    After trying dozens of these pizzas in restaurants all over the world, I would personally describe them as “puke on a cracker.”

    But that’s just me.

  36. Excellent. There is nothing like the propagation of a stereotype is there?

    1. Chicago, sorry, you didn’t invent pizza. *sigh*
    2. Geeks. We only eat pizza, right?
    3. Dough is very simple. Flour. Water, raising agent (yeast/baking soda). Occasionally a pubic hair in cheaper places. Other cultures use spit.
    4. Sugar. Yes, it helps.
    5. Warmth.
    6. Some crap on top of it.

    THe *magic* ingredient is subjectivity. Yes. Thats right. Drunkenness/hunger/weather/randiness all play a part. The correct answer is: If you like it eat it. It is fuel.

  37. First of all, let’s set the record straight. Chicago Deep Dish IS NOT PIZZA. Sorry. It ain’t. It’s a casserole.

    Second, you are all for the most part misunderstanding the point of this post, which was to explain the method allowing for ultra high heat cooking of Neapolitan style pizza in a home oven. These pizzas are made very thin and require high direct heat in order to cook in a very short amount of time. 550F isn’t quite hot enough. The Domino’s dough thing is a digression ye you are all fixating on that aspect of the story.

    Third: pizza stones are awesome, I have one (it didn’t cost me $40 either, more like $10) but they can’t be put on a gas burner, nor can they be put under the broiler. This method is specifically about acheiving much, much higher temps. which a stone cannot deliver.

    @#32: “That’s why you go to your pizza man”

    You REALLY don’t get it. The point of this is DOING IT YOURSELF, remember? (Also and, I’ve lived in NYC for 33 years, I know where to get great pro pizza, thank you very much. Also.)

    @#36 Tidmarsh: Please READ the first sentence of this post. Again. Once more now. K thx bai.

  38. @#47

    A broiler is a cooking apparatus that radiates extreme heat from a top-mounted heating element.

    It is the same concept as a salamander or cheese melter.

  39. Get yourself a 12″ square of unglazed tile from the hardware store or spend a few bucks and get a pizza stone, same thing. Set it on the bottom of your oven, and just leave it there all the time, whether you’re making pizza or not. And for Gods sake, learn the simple art of making dough from scratch. It’s so much better, and it’s so cheap that’s it’s pretty much free.

  40. I have been experimenting with thin crust, at home pizzas for quite some time, and here are some of my observations in no particular order.

    * Sugar is not needed, at all, in any form. It can help achieve a slightly darker color, but that is more easily fixed by just getting your temperature right. Oh, and it tastes nasty.
    * Enough sugar is generated during primary and secondary fermentation, if you do it properly, for the yeast to consume for days. This isn’t subjective, it is measurable with a refractometer.
    * In general, use less toppings
    * Unglazed tiles are good and cheap. Glazed tiles have lead in the glaze. Concrete blocks from Home Depot also work very well, but they take two hours to get up to temperature.
    * When making dough, make a wetter dough with softer flour (less protein). You can get that kind very thin, though you must be careful and use lots of flour/semolina/oil on your hands and work surfaces
    * When saucing the dough, work quick quick quick–that is the danger time for sticking on your peal
    * working on a grill is going to be the closest you can get to a real wood fired without a wood fired, it just takes a bit of practice.

    And finally, just grab any of Peter Reinhardts books, your dough quality will rise (I couldn’t resist :)

  41. Crap, my mother taught me this back in the 80s. Only she knew a much easier, tastier and faster way:

    Buy a package of biscuit dough (the ‘raw’ dough you get in the freezer section at the grocery store, not pre-cooked, ready-to-eat biscuits).

    Prepare a cookie sheet (I don’t remember if she used any fattening or butter on the sheet, so it would be prudent to check the baking instructions of the biscuits on the package itself).

    Flatten out individual biscuits on the sheet but leave a ‘rim’ around the edge, add sauce/toppings, place in broiler.

    It should only take about 5 to 10 mins (less time is needed as your broiler gets hotter over time) to cook super delicious mini pizzas without the mess of a frying pan (dumb!).

  42. Pizza dough is easy to mix. The trick is in the cooking.

    Cast iron is clever, but I use an upside down unglazed terra cotta saucer from Home Depot garden department — one of the really big 14 inch ones. Costs about $3. Put it in the oven before you turn it on so the saucer doesn’t crack. Since it is unglazed, it is (a) not poisonous and (b) porous so your crust doesn’t come out soggy.

    I cook all my breads this way. For $3, I get the same effect as a $40 baking stone.

  43. Just find the episode of Good Eats called “Flat is Beautiful”. Alton Brown went with an unglazed 12″ quarry tile and used it as a pizza stone. And also a pizza paddle which can serve many more functions in the kitchen than just making pizza.

  44. a CAN of tomato sauce? When tomatoes are in season you can march down to the neighborhood produce market and get 5 or 6 pounds of them for 2.50 and make your own sauce – you could even get it all cooked down in the time it takes your dough to rise. Why would you bother being snobby about your crust and then go and cover it with whatever bruised tomato and bug slurry happened to be squirting from the hose at the Hunts factory one day seven months ago? Geez. You guys are horrible at being pizza-pretentious.

  45. You can buy some great pizza crust at the grocery store. My secret is to add some cornmeal to the bottom of the pie.

  46. This is how you make pizza – first, find some shells. Sea shells. Put them in a sack, and then, take the A-train across town. Get off at 5th and Nathaniel, and give the sack of shells to a man wearing a brown sweater reading yesterday’s newspaper. Don’t say anything to him and don’t accept anything in return. Go to the other platform, and take the next train back home. Go inside your apartment, open the oven, and there you will find a pizza.

    I really love pizza, and the method presented in this post sounds like something i’d like to try. We’ve been using a pizza stone for about a year now, and my wife, daughter and I really like the way it cooks the dough.

  47. Okay, I am late to the game here, and I am not Pizza Connoisseur, but seriously, please do not give money to Domino’s.

    Domino’s is really not your friend Cory. Do you like the religious right and people who use money (from you dough purchase) to try to overturn Roe v. Wade? Have you been enjoying the Bush Administration?

    (This is the first source I found, not knowing which key words to use, but shows that Domino’s given 100% of their donations to Republican candidates. Seriously, listen to what the people above are telling you. They may not agree on the best Pizza in Chicago or on what temperature to set the oven at or what surface to place the pizza on, but it seems a pretty unanimous consensus the Domino’s sucks in all possible ways.

  48. 2 words: ice pick

    Take a pan, imagine it’s your least favorite person and stab away. The holes allow the dough to dry out during cooking, making the crust nice and crispy.

  49. Simple hack for solving the problem of how to adequately and easily reheat delivered—or leftover—pizza: Use a cast-iron skillet over medium-to-medium-high heat. Roll up aluminum foil into pellets—or use those ceramic pellets made to weight down an unfilled pie crust as you bake it; one day I’m ging to get some of those, but so far the improvised foil pellets work fine (I keep them in a little ziploc bag and reuse them)—lay your slice on top, cover the skillet, and in a coupla minutes or so: Mmmmmmm! Great crisp crust with just the right bit of char, bubbling hot toppings, perfetto!

    Thin-crust pizza is really intended to be baked once and then sent back for a second oven sojourn as needed: I’m talking here about the classic New York pizza joint sold-by-the-slice wonder. It’s kinda like toast: sliced white bread is simply the first gestational phase of a creature that needs toasting to reach its final glorious destiny.

  50. what i want to know is why they only sell disgusting take away pizzas near me in west london? i’m pining for a decent italian thin crust.

  51. @ACX99 – yes, a broiler is a grill.

    Making dough is super-easy if you have a bread making machine on the dough cycle. For pizza, I find a combination of about 50/50 superfine Italian flour (tipo oo) and strong bread flour works great (this is not critical – you want some strong flour so the base isn’t too crumbly, but not too much, in case it gets too chewy).

    My kids love making pizza – I make the dough in the bread machine, and the kids then add the sauces, cheese and various toppings in whatever random manner they see fit.

    Tip: polenta is great for stopping the dough from sticking to the table/fingers too much.

    My oven’s an electric and goes up to 290c, which seems plenty hot enough. A pizza pan with perforated base gives the best results.

    My only disaster was when I bought a commercial tomato sauce. The kids bit into the pizza and said “yum dad. This tastes great”. Then about five seconds later they both exposively spat out their mouthfuls of half-chewed pizza and burst into tears. I took another look at the jar of tomato sauce: in small letters, it said “puttanesca – exta hot”. Oops. I though it was delicious, though.

    I like the idea of trying the cleaning cycle. This isn’t a new technique, though, my mother in law’s been using it for years on other foods (with varying degrees of success, to be honest)

  52. Antinous@43: For pizza in Scotland and ‘nasty’ almost any chip shop will sell you a 7″ frozen pizza folded in half and deep fried, like an olinageous calzone. More bizarre was the mobile chip shop in Dunfermline that offered the same but battered, which, if you realise how battering works when cooking, is a really, really bad idea.

  53. Antinous @43:

    You’ve brought back memories of some nasty food in Scotland! When you travel the world (assuming you’re somewhere longer than two weeks) you should try the local pizza and the local take-out style Chinese food, just to see how it’s done.

    The pizza in Scotland, when I was there, was .. um, like going to McDonald’s for Lobster Rolls…
    Chinese food in Stirling was ‘Anything with lots of rice and lots and lots of boiled celery’.
    I lived off of haggis’n’chips and a ‘europak’ (as in Pakistani) restaurant in Glasgow, while I was there.

  54. Goddamn it, all this talk of which dough is better… It takes ten goddamn minutes to make your own if you have a dough mixer. Knock it together, mix it, stick it in the fridge in a ziplock and you have pizza dough for a week or so. And it gets better with a little aging in the fridge like all dough.


  55. OPSIN, you can knead your pizza’s dough by hand for about five minutes.

    Ten minutes of hand kneading per loaf of bread in a recipe. A large pizza is about half a loaf of bread. There’s really no excuse to not do it the old fashioned way.

  56. I was already planning to make pizza today (the dough is rising downstairs); I will experiment with the broiler technique and report back. My dough recipe makes enough for about two and a half pizzas the size of my pizza stone, and I usually use the leftover dough to make cheesy bread or an apple-parmesan-pepper tart or some other side order. It should fit nicely on top of my cast-iron fry pan.

  57. Reporting back with a side-by-side comparison: compared to my 525°, 9-minute pizza stone crust, the broiler crust was airier, pleasingly charred on the bottom, chewier, and less crusty. This despite my fumbling at certain crucial points — in particular, I bungled the transfer of pizza to pan-bottom, so I let more heat out of the oven than I should have. It still cooked in 95 seconds, as advertised, and the cheeses (mozzarella, parmesan, and bleu) were nicely melted and browned.

    That said, I see two problems with the technique: 1) As the blog entry points out, you’re limited in size to the bottom of your pan, which means personal pan pizzas are the upper limit. 2) Leaving a cast-iron pan on a burner on high for ten or fifteen minutes will turn all its seasoning to ash, which means I’m going to have to re-season my nice iron fry pan. (There’s also the danger of slipping and burning your face off. I still got my face.)

    The dough recipe I used: 4/3 c. warm water + 1 packet (just under 1 T.) yeast until dissolved. Mix in 3 3/4 c. flour, 2 T. olive oil, 1 T. honey, 1 t. salt. Knead 10 minutes, let rise (coated in oil) 90 minutes, punch down, let rest 10 minutes. Toppings were just olive oil, shredded part-skim mozzarella, finely shredded parmesan reggiano, and crumbled bleu cheese.

  58. I inadvertently thought this thread was the US city and/or chain pizza store rivalry thread. Then, due to the attempts of making a ritualistic discipline, any ritualistic discipline, with attendant repackaging and bluster, I thought I was in the late demised espresso thread

    So I went back and reread the title.

    Pizza was invented in Italy, a place where, for some reason, you don’t get deep pan pizzas or American pizza chains. Italians prefer pizzas cooked in wood fired ovens over any other form due to the wood smoke adding something to the taste and texture rather than the technical ability to heat the oven or slavish adherence to tradition.

    I personally use an electric oven with a ceramic tile, and while it makes better pizzas than just the electric oven alone, if I had the space I would seriously consider building a small wood fired pizza oven, because I believe it would elevate the resulting pizza to ambrosia.


  59. Silly article. In order to cook a pizza you need mass in the oven. A little cast iron pan or small pizza stone won’t do, you need some larger stones.

    Conventional home ovens won’t safely go above about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, while commercial pizza ovens go above 700. Best pizza is made in brick or masonry, wood-fired ovens. (There is an EU standard for that, even though pizzas are American in origin.) When you build a fire inside them they will go above 700 degrees. It takes a while before they cool down to make good bread instead of pizza. So there are pizza ovens and bread ovens, they vary by mass and insulation.

    The other big difference between homemade pizza and that made in commercial ovens is the dough. You use high-protein dough in the commercial ovens that go to 700 degrees, while that comes out all wrong in the home oven, where you need to use low-protein dough instead for an acceptable alternative. Read the book, “American Pie.”

    There are lots of pizza favorites and methods; many people learn to like the pizza they grew up with even though others might be better. Not many have mastered the skills and the science to make pizza well at home, but it is worthwhile.

    –joe.shuren, bouvet island

  60. Joe, the point of the technique is to heat the cast-iron pan well above 500°, by placing it on the stove heating element for ten minutes. Since the heating element gets up to around 1000° on high and the iron is a good conductor of heat, the pan gets much hotter than the oven alone could get it. By then putting the pizza between the hot iron and the radiant heat of the broiler, you can reach pizza oven temperatures — hot enough to get the nice dry, charred underside you get from pizza parlors, as I discovered.

  61. Just to be picky, Jere7my, cast iron is actually a pretty poor conductor of heat. The early, very crappy, CPU coolers were made out of cast iron. Better is aluminum, better still is gold. Best? Copper? Silver? Diamond!

    Cast iron does, however, have a good heat mass. It retains heat. Which is what makes cast iron cooking pots/pans so valuable.

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