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Low-effort, low-mess pizza @ home


Fat Guy
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Can you give an estimate of cooking time at 500 degrees in an indoor oven?

Sure. I believe it was about three minutes max before the tortilla edges were in imminent danger of burning (pizza stone preheated for about a half hour). In the backyard oven it took all of ninety seconds. Both cases, the tortilla crust/bottom was about as crisp as a brand-new Nabisco Saltine cracker (the pizza roller made that nice crackly noise). Leftovers the next day were considerably soggier (before the toaster oven reheating), and as limp as a regular pizza crust.

I haven't tried to communicate with Jacques, but I can't imagine how his worked with olive oil on the outside bottom. I tried it and it made a sticky mess.

Next time I fire up the outside oven I will try it again with everything the same except for a pizza screen under the tortilla, just to see if I lose anything in my quest for more ease in turning them.

Ray

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  • 11 months later...
So... this weekend I experimented with "massively retarded" pizza dough.

Oven spring was tremendous, which is one advantage to using a cold dough.

This thread is so perplexing because so many of us are having different experiences with the same basic methods. For example, I have done this heavily retarded dough experiment (about 7 days in the fridge), and used the dough fairly cold, and got hardly any oven spring at all. The result was a crust that was crispy, but in my opinion didn't have enough chew to balance that. When I mentioned this to a pizza making friend she told me that she finds room temp dough makes a big difference in pizza crust texture, and having just had one at her place last night I am inclined to agree... Last night she used room temp dough that had actually puffed a bit, and the pizza done on the stone was great -- very crisp bottom, with still enough chew and body to the crust...

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That looks really good. The only suggestion I would make is to add the mozarella after the pizza is cooked. Thinly sliced Polly-O mozzarella should work well. One note about Polly-O: it does need salt to bring out the taste. I usually sprinkle salt over the cheese.

For whatever reason I've never tried to use store-bought dough for a thin crust. I've used it a few times for quick focaccia with so-so results.

I too like the idea of retarding the dough; I'll give it a try.

Edited by genarog (log)
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i make pizza about 1 nite a week, from scratch..and i work every day

here's how i do it

in the morning, before going to work, i make the dough (Wolgang Puck's recipe)

1 cup water

1 tsp dry yeast

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

mix this up until everything is dissolved, then add

3 cups all purpose flour (King Arthur)

mix this up with a wooden spoon until it just comes together

(add 1-2 tablespoon water as needed to get the dough to form a ball)

cover the bowl with sarah wrap, leave out on the kitchen counter...go to work.

it takes about 5 minutes to mix up the pizza dough...

8-12 hours later, i'm home from work...

turn the oven on to 500 degrees (i have a pizza stone that i always leave in the oven )

while the oven preheats, i do my prep work..

garlic press one entire head into 1/4 cup of olive oil, let steep

shred 1-2 cup extra sharp cheddar

shred 1-2 cup smoked gouda

1-2 cups shredded mozzarella

dice up some red onion

mix the cheese, red onion and garlic bits (reserve the olive oil), some salt and pepper, in a big bowl.

get out the protein (what ever you like, my two favorite pizzas are lamb seasoned with Ras el Hanout, or clams)

divide the dough into 2 equal sized lumps. in a flour dusted sheet pan i take the dough (well dusted with flour), and just using my finger tips, i press the dough down to make a flat crust. you can make it as thin as you like by lifting the dough up (it stretches fantastically thin). liberal dust with flour to keep it from sticking.

do not let the crust sit around, or it will get sticky and hard to move around. also, you will NOT be adding the topping yet.

lightly rub flour on your pizza peel. Tranfer the crust to the peel, and promptly pop it in the oven until it just starts to brown. By moving the uncooked crust quickly into the oven, it will not stick to the peel. This pre-cooking takes about 5 minutes. Remember to dock the pizza dough (poke holes in the dough to prevent it from puffing up).

while your first crust is pre-cooking, prepare your second crust.

remove the pre-cooked, lightly brown crust, and pop your second crust into the oven.

Precooked crust gets the outer 2 inches of the crust brushed with the reserved olive oil (helps prevent the edge of the crust from burning). Layer on your protein, then layert the cheese/onion/garlic mix over the protein. Add anything else (tomato) you want on top of this.

remove your second crust, pop your prepared pizza into the oven for about 20 minutes, or until done.

cook #2 pizza while your eating #1 pizza.

left over olive oil infused with garlic makes a great salad dressing with lemon juice, or balsamic vinegar.

by adjusting how thin you make the dough, and how long you pre-cook the dough, you can "tune" this recipe to get any kind of crust you want...from thick and chewy to thin and crisp.

i used to make pizza in a sheet pan, but you lose the ability to make a super thin or crispy pizza, because the sheet pan traps moisture, and keep the underside of the crust from getting crunchy (if that's what you crave). Even if you pre-cook the sheet pan crust, it gets soggy again, once you add ingredients.

get a pizza stone, leave it in the oven, you'll never go back.

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That sounds like a great meal, however on the last point I feel compelled to admit: I had a pizza stone in the oven and I did go back. While a pizza stone is indeed a nice addition to the oven, I found it to be inconvenient and messy. Just leaving it in didn't work because we do too much other cooking in our oven and the stone interferes with baking cookies and the like. It also makes adjusting the racks difficult. But the worst part was the mess: flour and/or cornmeal on the oven floor, the kitchen floor, the counters, etc. So my goal became to see how well I could do with a sheet pan to contain the whole process.

Some recent discussions on other topics have actually led me to experiment with lower rather than higher temperatures. I've had some early, promising results but am not yet ready to draw any conclusions.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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That sounds like a great meal, however on the last point I feel compelled to admit: I had a pizza stone in the oven and I did go back. While a pizza stone is indeed a nice addition to the oven, I found it to be inconvenient and messy. Just leaving it in didn't work because we do too much other cooking in our oven and the stone interferes with baking cookies and the like. It also makes adjusting the racks difficult. But the worst part was the mess: flour and/or cornmeal on the oven floor, the kitchen floor, the counters, etc. So my goal became to see how well I could do with a sheet pan to contain the whole process.

If the worst part was the mess, can I ask why not just use parchment paper? That's how I do pizzas on the pizza stone, and it means no mess at all in the oven or on the stone...

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Recently I've been experimenting with different crusts.

The local Turkish market carries yufka sheets, a leaf-type pastry somewhat thicker than phyllo. About five layers of yufka, each layer brushed with olive oil, makes a sturdy crust with a mild olive oil flavor and a satisfying, shattering crunch.

It seems to need a moisture barrier between it and the sauce, though, so we generally build our pizzas with crust, a thinly spread layer of seasoned ricotta (or mascarpone, if low-cost is not an issue), thin slices of fresh tomato, and torn-up mozzarella. It's relatively quick, easier than tomato sauce, and simply incredible.

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That sounds like a great meal, however on the last point I feel compelled to admit: I had a pizza stone in the oven and I did go back. While a pizza stone is indeed a nice addition to the oven, I found it to be inconvenient and messy. Just leaving it in didn't work because we do too much other cooking in our oven and the stone interferes with baking cookies and the like. It also makes adjusting the racks difficult. But the worst part was the mess: flour and/or cornmeal on the oven floor, the kitchen floor, the counters, etc. So my goal became to see how well I could do with a sheet pan to contain the whole process.

Interesting. I tried it in a sheet pan a time or two, and just didn't find the result good enough to be worth the trouble. Like others, I like to use a sheet of parchment cut to be just a touch smaller than my baking stone (spritz the parchment with spray-oil and sprinkle on some cornmeal to ensure good release if you use a wet dough as I do). This is easy-on, easy-off, low cleanup fuss.

Also... where are you putting your baking stone? In a gas oven, the baking stone belongs on the floor of the oven, not on a rack. Using a baking stone shouldn't interfere with rack adjustment or any of those things whatsoever.

Some recent discussions on other topics have actually led me to experiment with lower rather than higher temperatures. I've had some early, promising results but am not yet ready to draw any conclusions.

Lower temperatures can be good depending on the style.

--

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Trade Joe's here always has two or three fresh (not frozen) doughs in bags that I've had good success with. Regular pizza dough, one with herbs and I think a whole wheat one.

I sometimes prebake it , sometimes not. I always use my stone and peel, I find the clean up is a breeze with my little battery powered hand vac.

Mostly I make my own dough, I really have to try the aging thing! Make one fresh and one a week old and see if they differ. The TJ's doughs I've had in the fridge for several days past the date on the sticker and they were just fine. I never noticed any sourness, but I also never paid attention to that, I'll have to do that next time.

I too leave the pizza stone in the oven unless I need space for a large pot or something. But I also don't bake anything sweet and most other things like bread and pretzels can go on the stone too. After my round one broke on the bbq I got a big rectangular one that's the size of a cookie sheet, quite happy with it.

Oliver

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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I've been experimenting with different bought pizza doughs the last few months... all my pizzas are made the same way - dough in a sheet pan topped with tomato paste and grated pizza cheese and pepperoni, and baked at 450 degrees.

Publix fresh pizza dough tastes good but it fights like the devil... it's so springy it was almost impossible to fill the sheet pan with a suitably thin crust without its bouncing back to half the size. I followed their baking directions and almost incinerated the pizza because my crust was very thin and I didn't realise it would be done in ten minutes! oops. It tastes like (good) pizza shop pizza.

Publix sells frozen bread dough that makes a very nice pizza. It's wetter and more pliable than the fresh dough and easy to stretch out in the pan. One loaf makes a sheet pan and it came out nice and crispy in 15 minutes.

In a hurry, I bought a pack of refrigerated pizza dough. I didn't expect much from it but I was pleasantly surprised. If you ignore the oil used, it doesn't have anything particularly gunky in it, and it comes ready-to-use. Just pop open the can and unroll the dough and stretch it out a bit then bake. Baking with a generous amount of topping on it came out rather soft, so I pre-baked the next crust and it came out almost too crisp. Not gourmet, and not what I'd use on a regular basis, but nicer than a pre-made crust and virtually instant.

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if only the supermarkets over here (UK) stocked premade dough, hopefully it's something they'll start doing soon. I can only dream.

we used to eat homemade pizza about once a week, I just shoved all the dough ingredients into the bread maker & 90mins later it was ready to be made into pizzas without the tiresome kneeding. I quickly became fed up with the poor bread produced in that bulky machine but at least it was very consistant in making pizza dough. Even so when the thing gave up after a very short lifespan, surely not just from my neglect of its cooking capacities, the vast expanse of worktop it occupied was reclaimed and this oversized gadget never replaced. And so our consumption of proper homemade pizza also greatly diminished.

I have recently started doing a quick cheats pizza using Khoubz as a base. This is a circular arabian flat bread I get at an asia grocers, I think its normally used in falafel wraps. I usually have the oven on as high as it can put the Khoubz (either fresh or straight from the freezer) on a baking tray top with a little sauce, usually a good one from the jar, and a very thin layer of toppings/cheese. By the time the topings are sufficently brown the Khoubz is toasted with crispy edges, the bread itself tends to have a nice savoury wheaty taste, which we really enjoy.

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Finally my home-made pizza is improving! I'd been having problems for a while, as the dough wouldn't seem to rise at all in the oven, and so I'd have the crispy bottom, but no chewiness in the crust to go along with it. I had been making the dough and retarding it in the fridge as per this thread, but a friend of mine clued me in that I needed to let it come to room temp first before baking, as I had basically been stretching it out cold and then baking (on a stone) immediately. Letting it come to temp has made all the difference -- finally, crisp and chew!

Tonight's pizza was one of my best yet -- spinach pesto, ricotta, provolone & mozzarella, and sauteed mushrooms. Major yum.

gallery_51217_4287_1315.jpg

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  • 1 year later...

I've had this thread bookmarked forever and finally made a pizza tonight. My first successful pizza EVER! Nice crust and so EASY. I did a sausage and onion pizza and we really liked it a lot. I avoid making pizza because I've always had trouble rolling out the dough and doing the peel slide. This was great and I'll be able to make pizza anytime now. Thanks for starting this topic, Steven!

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I used to be able to buy fresh dough from Trader Joe's (and they were generally good), but they carry it no longer.

But C'mon, if you have a mixer with a dough hook it's no big deal. Make a big batch of dough, ball it up and put, say, six balls on a sheet pan and freeze them. Put each frozen ball into a ziplock bag (try to get most of the air out) and then into the freezer again.

From there you just need to remember to transfer a ball into the refrigerator 24-96 hours before you want pizza.

I used to pay 79 cents for one ball at TJs, but can make them (in 20 minutes) for way less than half that price - and I know how long they've been around, what the hydration is, and have a lot more control in other ways.

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if only the supermarkets over here (UK) stocked premade dough, hopefully it's something they'll start doing soon. I can only dream.

No need - you can do it easier and better yourself!

One of my favourite finds on eGullet has been the no-knead bread recipe. Never quite managed to get a whole loaf that was how I wanted it but for pizzas, garlic breads or little dinner rolls it's perfect. You'll find the thread somewhere on here but in short all you need to do is mix the following ingredients using a big spoon then leave it for between two and five hours somewhere warm. You can use it straight away or get an even better flavour by keeping it in the fridge for a while (successfully upto about three weeks for me).

It works with all sorts of different flours but this particular combination gives great results:

1000g Waitrose extra strong Canadian bread flour

750ml hot water from the tap

25g salt

12g dried active yeast

Just mix till the flour is all incorporated into the water then cover partially with a plate and leave somewhere warm until it's risen to fill the bowl and gone shinier and smoother, to be honest I was amazed that it gets to this consistency without any kneading at all, but it really does.

When you're ready to make a pizza just cover your hand in flour, grab a good handful and pop it in the middle of an oiled and floured sheet of foil, dump loads more flour on top then roll it out as thin as possible. Top how you like then cook on a well preheated pizza stone in a really hot oven -perfect pizza at home with little or no effort :)

EDIT: just been back through this thread and have seem that this sort of recipe has already been suggested using different American flours, if you've got a waitrose near you then give it a go using the above quantities it really is foolproof.

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if only the supermarkets over here (UK) stocked premade dough, hopefully it's something they'll start doing soon. I can only dream.

No need - you can do it easier and better yourself!

One of my favourite finds on eGullet has been the no-knead bread recipe. Never quite managed to get a whole loaf that was how I wanted it but for pizzas, garlic breads or little dinner rolls it's perfect. You'll find the thread somewhere on here but in short all you need to do is mix the following ingredients using a big spoon then leave it for between two and five hours somewhere warm. You can use it straight away or get an even better flavour by keeping it in the fridge for a while (successfully upto about three weeks for me).

It works with all sorts of different flours but this particular combination gives great results:

1000g Waitrose extra strong Canadian bread flour

750ml hot water from the tap

25g salt

12g dried active yeast

Just mix till the flour is all incorporated into the water then cover partially with a plate and leave somewhere warm until it's risen to fill the bowl and gone shinier and smoother, to be honest I was amazed that it gets to this consistency without any kneading at all, but it really does.

When you're ready to make a pizza just cover your hand in flour, grab a good handful and pop it in the middle of an oiled and floured sheet of foil, dump loads more flour on top then roll it out as thin as possible. Top how you like then cook on a well preheated pizza stone in a really hot oven -perfect pizza at home with little or no effort :)

EDIT: just been back through this thread and have seem that this sort of recipe has already been suggested using different American flours, if you've got a waitrose near you then give it a go using the above quantities it really is foolproof.

I've made the no knead bread several times & whilst it makes a good sour dough like loaf I personally prefer the texture of normal kneaded dough bread and I imagine it would be the same for pizza (though I am interested in what difference the canadian flour would make compared to say doves organic & I though the no-knead required plain not strong flour??) perhaps I just need more practice. I still just use the pre-brought flat breads for a really speedy crispy pizza - no stone needed.

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]

I've made the no knead bread several times & whilst it makes a good sour dough like loaf I personally prefer the texture of normal kneaded dough bread and I imagine it would be the same for pizza (though I am interested in what difference the canadian flour would make compared to say doves organic & I though the no-knead required plain not strong flour??) perhaps I just need more practice. I still just use the pre-brought flat breads for a really speedy crispy pizza - no stone needed.

Went through quite a lot of different types of flour trying to get the no knead recipe right, the very high gluten content in the Canadian stuff from waitrose seems to give a lovely crisp crust with a nice chewiness - you get REALLY dramatic in-oven bubbles too, looks and tastes very good for the tiny amount of effort needed. Thiss flour seems to take a lot more water too - 750ml per 1000g is a lot wetter dough than most of the no knead recipes I tried first.

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I haven't seen frozen bread dough here (although I'm sure it exists) and other pre-made alternatives are pretty blah. I used to use the bread machine to make pizza dough, but the machine is cumbersome, doesn't make nice regular bread and anyway I would rather use my limited appliance space for that compressor ice-cream machine I've been hinting about for a while now...

We have used lavosh for a quick pizza base - sort of like the pita bread pizzas that I remember from the 80s, except a bit better. So long as we were light with the cheese, sauce and toppings, we could stick one under the grill and have something approximating a crisp-based pizza.

Currently it's no-knead dough (with more salt than the NYTimes recipe calls for). In summer it goes into the fridge after a couple of hours on the counter. In winter it just stays out (no central heating here!) for a couple of days. The nice thing is that it's very forgiving and requires little work. If you can't make pizza tonight, it's happy to wait until tomorrow.

Rather than use lots of flour to roll it out, as &droid mentioned above thread, I find it easier to put some olive oil on a sheet of baking paper and use some of it to lightly oil my hands and stretch the dough (fairly thinly) out onto the paper. A bit of semolina or polenta is nice under the base, and seems to make it crisper than the semolina alone should account for. I suspect it might create a bit of an air pocket under the dough and reduce steam, but I can't be sure.

The paper gets used as a lifting tool to put the pizza into a pre-heated oven onto a preheated sheet (if it's a bigger pizza I sometimes use a breadboard to assist). Even better into a preheated cast iron frying pan - I use a LeCreuset. It takes two pizzas of that size to feed us, but we bake the second while eating the first, so it's not a big deal. In any case, the pizza bakes on the paper, which makes cleanup fairly easy.

We've experimented with par baking the crust before topping and find it is a bit better, but we like it both ways. If the oven and sheet or pan is heated (about 25 minutes minimum) the pizza cooks in around 8 minutes (add a minute or two if you like browned cheese). For us this makes it a quick mid-week dinner if we turn on the oven as soon as we get home so that it preheats while we sort ourselves out.

We've used purchased pizza sauce, which is okay, but prefer a quick homemade one: a tin of peeled roma tomatoes, 1-2 cloves garlic, a glug (that precise quantity!) of olive oil, some pepper flakes, ground black pepper and dried oregano, all whizzed up with the stick blender. Whatever doesn't get used the first day gets cooked quickly and stored in the freezer for another session.

Toppings naturally vary depending on what's in the house, but a definate favourite is smoked ham from the polish deli (oh so italian, I know!), with fresh tomatoes sliced on when it comes out of the oven.

Nearly as low mess and low effort as the original post!

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Just a thank you to Fat Guy for the post and the idea. I make pizza at home fairly regularly, and we decided to give this version a try.

Normally, I start with store-bought dough and the Cook's Illustrated "Quick Tomato Sauce," which is based on shredded yellow onion and dried oregano fried in butter, tomatoes, and fresh basil. Made with Muir Glen fire-roasted crushed tomatoes (which are plenty chunky), it's an excellent sauce. I tend to use one package (16oz.) store dough, divided in two, tossed into 12" pies. I cook on a pizza stone in a 550 deg. oven for about 4 minutes.

My normal plan violates many of the "rules" in Fat Guy's post. It involves four on the counter, flour on me, flour on the floor, the time needed to make the sauce, etc. I was really hoping that the FG recipe would work, but it didn't quite do it for me (with all due respect). The Pomi strained tomatoes are simply too flavorless. I think they dragged the whole pie down with them. I think I'm going to try making the sheet pan pizza with the CI sauce, and see if it works. Not tossing the dough would certainly make my life easier!

Thanks again for the recipe and technique idea, and even more for motivating me to try something new...

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  • 4 weeks later...

I read this thread about a month ago and have since been looking for frozen pizza dough wanting to make good pizza in my house without making a mess. Having no luck finding pre-made dough I finally made the no-knead variety listed earlier. Nothing could have been simpler.

I tried to follow FG's original recipe. Costco mozz. pomi strained tomatoes and freshly grated parmeseano reggiano. Added some pepperoni and my wife used some fresh basil at the table.

The dough cooked up just right. Tomatoes were not too sweet. Cheese was a little overcooked. Pepperoni, there was too little. Overall an awesome pie.

Next time I'll try the 4 min. bake without toppings then flip, add toppings and finish. 11 mins. works great.

Fat Guy, thanks for starting the thread and to all who have kept it going.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've been making pizzas regularly for the past year or so, ever since I discovered Publix fresh pizza dough. In some ways mine are very similar to Steven's, but I stretch my dough out on parchment instead of using a sheet pan. The best discovery I made, though, was to ditch my pizza stone (actually a Hearthkit bread "oven" with three sides) and replace it with a square cast iron griddle. I was making pizza at a friend's who didn't have a pizza stone, so we used the bottom of a huge cast iron skillet instead and the crust was much better than on my stone.

Granted, my friend's oven heats up hotter than mine, but still, the cast iron produces much better char and overall better pizza than my stone did. The oven also heats up much faster without the massive amount of stone in it.

I also use Pomi strained tomatoes, but depending on what else I'm adding to the pizza I sometimes sprinkle it with crushed red pepper flakes and salt.

I use a little olive oil to coat my hands as I'm stretching the dough, so the crust ends up with a barely perceptible coating of oil before the sauce goes on.

Lately, I've taken to using Sargento's "Artisan" shredded whole milk mozzarella, which in addition to being way easy, also has decent flavor and the right amount of moisture.

As an added bonus, one bag equals three individual pizzas for me, which is also what one bag of dough equals. This means that I sometimes end up having pizza three times within about 9 days (which is about the limit for the Publix dough in the fridge), but if I change the toppings, it's not a hardship.

If I remember to start heating the oven beforehand, I can have a pizza in 20 to 30 minutes (depending on the toppings) from the time I start making it. Next time I'll try to remember to take pictures.

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