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monavano

Homemade pizza: pre-bake the dough?

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I made a margherita pizza the other night using dough from and Italian deli. It's very good. My problem was that the top came out a bit gummy, while the bottom was browned and fairly crisp. I used my tomato sauce sparingly and layered basil and fresh mozzerella on top. Cooked on a hot pizza stone at 450 degrees. It was tasty, but I really wanted that crust to be crisper.

Do you pre-cook the crust? Any suggestions?

Thanks!

Before:

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After:

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Mona,

Actually, your pizza looks pretty wonderful.

It looks like an awful lot of cheese, maybe too thick and too many slices.

There is also the possibility that your oven was not fully up to temperature. It takes up to an hour to fully heat an oven stone. If the stone is as wide a your oven, it will take more time than with a smaller stone.

Tim

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I made a margherita pizza the other night using dough from and Italian deli. It's very good. My problem was that the top came out a bit gummy, while the bottom was browned and fairly crisp. I used my tomato sauce sparingly and layered basil and fresh mozzerella on top. Cooked on a hot pizza stone at 450 degrees. It was tasty, but I really wanted that crust to be crisper.

Do you pre-cook the crust? Any suggestions?

Thanks!

That looks pretty darn tasty!

I don't pre bake the crust at all. I get our oven as high as it will go (550 in this case). The pizza takes 5-7 minutes and the usually is spot on as far as texture etc. goes.

I diverge a bit from most others here in that I don't use a baking stone at all for pizza instead preferring to use a pizza screen.

I have found that you really don't want to sauce/top the dough until immediately before putting it into the oven or the texture may suffer. As you have already noted less is more as far as sauce is concerned.


Edited by 6ppc (log)

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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Looks tasty!

What is the consensus on the differences in putting the pizza directly on the pizza stone or using parchment paper between the pizza and the stone?

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It was pretty tasty I think because I used Marcella Hazan's very simple tomato sauce recipe. Two things so far. I didn't heat the pizza stone long enough, it was only about half an hour tops. And maybe there was too much cheese (although I luv cheese!).

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I agree about preheating the oven for a long time, using toppings sparingly, and adding toppings at the last possible minute. Not sure if this info is of any use, but I used to have a particular problem with the centre being too doughy/soggy. I started leaving a very small space free of sauce in the centre of the pizza, and the problem was resolved completely.

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I agree about preheating the oven for a long time, using toppings sparingly, and adding toppings at the last possible minute.  Not sure if this info is of any use, but I used to have a particular problem with the centre being too doughy/soggy.  I started leaving a very small space free of sauce in the centre of the pizza, and the problem was resolved completely.

Putting the topping on the very last second is a great tip. I think I need to work a bit quicker when making pizza.

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I diverge a bit here in that I do pre-bake the crust. I find that a quick trip into a 550F oven gets the crust crisp (and the top water-resistant :smile: ). I then pull it out, sauce and cheese it, and put it back in until the cheese reaches the level of browning etc I want. I used to use a stone, but don't bother anymore -- instead, I flip a heavy-duty aluminum sheet-pan over, pre-heat it with the oven, and cook the pizza on that. I usually use parchment paper, but that's because I'm lazy, sloppy, and don't like to clean up. :wink: Neither trip into the oven takes more than about 5-10 minutes -- usually closer to 5.

Hope this helps.

jk

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Yes, it does. Thanks for your input. I believe my oven goes up to 550 degrees so I'll crank it up next time.

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1. Definitely use a pizza stone at least 1/2" thick. Pre-heat it to 550 F for at least 45 - 60 minutes. It is a "holder of heat", whereas a pizza screen transmits the oven heat, and ovens use a thermostat to maintain temperature. That means there will be flucuations in the actual heat in the oven. Depending on the oven, and the size of the oven cavity, and the sensitivity of the oven's temperature sensing thermostat, the oven will drop in temperature before the thermastat sends a message to the oven element to "Come on". To avoid the flucuations, the pizza stone evens that out.

2. Use a pizza peel (wood is best) after creating your crust, dust the peel with some corn meal. Place the dough on the peel, and then make sure the dough moves freely on the peel by picking up the peel by its handle and gently shake it to see if the dough moves. BE CAREFUL. i've had the pizza dough fly off the edge of the peel!

3. Use a boar bristle paint brush (new one that has never seen paint!) to paint on some olive oil directly to your dough on the peel. This "waterproofs" the dough so that the sauce and cheese and other liquid leaching ingredients do not permeate into the top side of your dough crust. This will prevent the bottom of the crust being done and the inside/topside of the crust be mushy or soft or gooey.

doc

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Doc, we do everything just as you describe up until Step 3. We use a brush, but prefer one that has some Benjamin Moore left in it.

The olive oil trick sounds promising. Does this enable you to make pizza with a "fresher" tomato sauce? I usually use a thin film of a thick cooked-down sauce made from canned San Marz. tomatoes, but would like to try something with fresh tomatoes, either uncooked or slightly cooked perhaps in place of my usual "base coat."

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I diverge a bit here in that I do pre-bake the crust.  I find that a quick trip into a 550F oven gets the crust crisp (and the top water-resistant  :smile: ).  I then pull it out, sauce and cheese it, and put it back in until the cheese reaches the level of browning etc I want.  I used to use a stone, but don't bother anymore -- instead, I flip a heavy-duty aluminum sheet-pan over, pre-heat it with the oven, and cook the pizza on that.  I usually use parchment paper, but that's because I'm lazy, sloppy,  and don't like to clean up.  :wink:  Neither trip into the oven takes more than about 5-10 minutes -- usually closer to 5. 

Hope this helps.

jk

Nothing worse than watery pizza toppings or underbaked crust!!

There was a time when I made pizza every Sunday. I always pre-baked the crusts just to set them up, like jk. Then, in addition of being waterproof, they are sooo much easier to handle. And you can put more toppings on if you want. Always preheat the stone. I would freeze any leftover pre-baked crusts.

Now I have a Hearthkit, which simulates a brick oven, and have made thin pizza without pre-baking, but the toppings need to be few and you have to be quite agile with the pizza peel.

These pizza topics have come up before and I think the basic problem is that we are trying to duplicate pizzeria pizza at home, but our ovens only go to 550deg at most (instead of 800+). So I think some modifications are needed sometimes.

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Brushing with olive oil seems like a great idea. As you can see, the pizza was pretty nice, but if you look at the bottom pic, at the slice, you can see where the dough on top got a bit, well, soggy. That's the target problem for me. I *wish my oven went higher, but then again I'd probably burn down the house! :laugh:

This has been incredibly helpful and I'm thankful for everyone's insight.

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Steven is right: For a home oven and a typical home oven pizza stone, you need a very thin crust and sparse toppings if you want to have a great crust. Needless to say, you should put the stone on the floor of your oven so the gas jets fire more or less directly into the stone, set the oven at its highest temperature and preheat at least an hour. If you can stack two pizza stones on top of each other, all the better.

As for pre-baking, it's nowhere written that you have to put everything on the raw dough and bake it together all in one go. It's quite typical in Italy for certain ingredients to be added later on in the (short) baking process, and many ingredients (prosciutto and basil or any other fresh herbs beint the most obvious examples) aren't added to the pizza until it is finished baking and comes out of the oven. So, looking at the OP's situation, there would have been nothing wrong with smearing the pizza with tomato sauce and baking it just like that for a while, then adding (hopefully thinner/smaller) pieces of mozzarella when only one minute of baking time remained, and then putting the basil on after the pizza comes out of the oven (a light drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil wouldn't hurt at the end either).


--

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The olive oil trick sounds promising. Does this enable you to make pizza with a "fresher" tomato sauce? I usually use a thin film of a thick cooked-down sauce made from canned San Marz. tomatoes, but would like to try something with fresh tomatoes, either uncooked or slightly cooked perhaps in place of my usual "base coat."

I make my own marinara sauce and can it. I used to make different sauces for pizza, spaghetti, lasagna, etc., but ended up finding my marinara sauce can be used for all the above. It is a cooked thick sauce made from fresh plum tomatoes that my wife cans, and tomato paste. I know there is a lot of controversy regarding paste, but it tastes just fine to me. I do as Lidia Bastianich does, and "fry" the paste before adding the puree my wife makes from fresh tomatoes.

A lot of onion and garlic in the sauce, and fresh basil added near the end of the 2 1/2 hours of simmering I do.

Anyway, the point not to miss is that the pizza wants to "evaporate" in the oven. I use plenty of sauce, cause I think pizza is still pasta and I like lots of thick sauce with my "pasta"! So the trick is, don't cover the entire surface of the sauce with mozzarella, because as the mozz melts it forms a "blanket" which doesn't allow the moisture in the sauce to evaporate. It gets trapped underneath the cheese. So I still use plenty of cheese, but I leave large "gaps" in the coverage so as to let the pizza "breathe" as it cooks. At 550 F, and using a 12 oz dough that creates a thin crust, my pizzas come out better than any I've eaten from pizzerias. I think I use about 8 oz of mozz, but a relatively thick layer of thick sauce. Any sausage or fennel seed or anise seeds or fresh basil leaves always go onto the sauce before the parmesan and then the mozz.

doc

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And maybe there was too much cheese (although I luv cheese!).

I love the cheese too!

What about shredding the cheese instead of slicing it. It might give you more control over your cheese to crust ratio.


Iris

GROWWWWWLLLLL!!

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And maybe there was too much cheese (although I luv cheese!).

I love the cheese too!

What about shredding the cheese instead of slicing it. It might give you more control over your cheese to crust ratio.

Great idea. I think I'll pop the mozzerella in the freezer for 10 min to firm it up to shred it.

I'm going to make another pizza, probably next week (a little vacation first!), and put these suggestion to the test and report back with the results and some pics.

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We made pizzas tonight -- thanks very much to all for the useful information. Here's what we did: Mona, I used your Marcella H recipe for sauce, using a can of San Marz tomatoes and butter, altho I did cut back on the butter. Really nice. I used a mozz that is not buffalo, but was just grate-able but still had some moisture and fresh flavor without being salty.

We placed the stone low in the oven and heated the oven for at least 45 min., which is longer than we used to do. The crust was stretched out, not rolled. We pre-baked the crust and that turned out to be great. We were a bit surprised at the bubbling action of the crust when we took it out, but ultimately it didn't matter.

Olive oil was brushed very lightly after the pre-bake, but I am thinking it wasn't necessary, since the pizza was already starting to develop its own surface. So perhaps that technique is more useful when not prebaking.

After sauce, cheese and toppings went on, the pizza went back in for about 6-7 minutes. The crust was definitely crisper than our previous pizzas, and the cheese and toppings were cooked perfectly.

Toppings were as follows: Pizza #1 had carmelized onion and radicchio (sauteed first w/a little garlic). Pizza #2 had fresh basil and a few thin slices of fresh tomato.

Excellent.

Now, one question, if any bakers are on this thread. My husband, who is the crust-master and who also bakes bread once in a while, says that often bakers use steam in the oven to crisp up the crust on a loaf. He wants to know if a fine spray mist would help a pizza dough during the pre-bake.

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We made pizzas tonight -- thanks very much to all for the useful information. Here's what we did: Mona, I used your Marcella H recipe for sauce, using a can of San Marz tomatoes and butter, altho I did cut back on the butter. Really nice. I used a mozz that is not buffalo, but was just grate-able but still had some moisture and fresh flavor without being salty.

We placed the stone low in the oven and heated the oven for at least 45 min., which is longer than we used to do. The crust was stretched out, not rolled. We pre-baked the crust and that turned out to be great. We were a bit surprised at the bubbling action of the crust when we took it out, but ultimately it didn't matter.

Olive oil was brushed very lightly after the pre-bake, but I am thinking it wasn't necessary, since the pizza was already starting to develop its own surface. So perhaps that technique is more useful when not prebaking.

After sauce, cheese and toppings went on, the pizza went back in for about 6-7 minutes. The crust was definitely crisper than our previous pizzas, and the cheese and toppings were cooked perfectly.

Toppings were as follows: Pizza #1 had carmelized onion and radicchio (sauteed first w/a little garlic). Pizza #2 had fresh basil and a few thin slices of fresh tomato.

Excellent.

Now, one question, if any bakers are on this thread. My husband, who is the crust-master and who also bakes bread once in a while, says that often bakers use steam in the oven to crisp up the crust on a loaf. He wants to know if a fine spray mist would help a pizza dough during the pre-bake.

Great work Katie. Spritzing the oven just before baking bread, then a couple times over the next 5-7 minutes once the bread is in, is a technique I've used for bread. Works great in making a nice crust. I would think it beneficial to the pre-bake pizza dough and would be worthwile to try.

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So the spritzing action is at the beginning when you bake bread...interesting. Except for one or two signature staples I'm hopeless when anything involves flour, so I will pass that along.

Oh, I read my post and must have been fuzzy from the wine last night. I neglected to note the time for the prebake. Of course everyone's ovens are different, but just for the record: The first pizza dough pre-baked 3 min. The second one we left in for just a minute longer, and that was perfect--just enough time for the dough to actually acquire a surface that would resist moisture. Thanks again to all for suggestions! KM

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