Sole Gourmet Wood Fired Pizz A Lesson On Making Pizzas

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Sling your own from-scratch pies with some pro tips from Slice founder và renowned pizza authority Adam Kuban.

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For pizza lovers, a slice is more than a food—it’s an obsession. & while some can feed that obsession by buying New York-style wedges, sitting down to a wood-fired Neapolitan pie, or defrosting a good ol’ pizza bagel, others feel compelled khổng lồ take the process into their own hands—starting with yeast and ending with a perfect sprinkling of Parm.

And so the would-be pizza chef’s first problem is not what kind of oven lớn cook in, or where to lớn buy the freshest mozz. No, it’s what kind of pie-maker khổng lồ be.

“There are two kinds of trang chủ pizza cooks,” said Adam Kuban, founder of Slice & proprietor of pop-up pizza joint Margot’s Pizza. “There’s the serious amateur who’s maxing out his or her oven, hacking it so it runs hotter, who’s always in pursuit of the next one- or two-percent improvement; và then there’s the ‘all pizza is good pizza’ person.

“I’ve been both,” says Kuban.

Given that the pizza has a long history in the United States và a longer one, of course, in Italy, it would be disingenuous to lớn claim that pie-making is simple. Yet, at its core, pizza has just two elements—crust and topping—and so while its methods và proportions may be tough to lớn master, getting started isn’t hard at all—especially not with Kuban by our side.

1. The Dough

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A good pizza crust does more than deliver toppings lớn your mouth—it’s got flavor. Amazingly, all you need to lớn create an ideal crust—one with both structure và flavor—is flour, yeast, water, & time. The single best thing you can vì for your dough is allow many hours for rising.

Still, if the crust doesn’t come out perfect the first time or the second, that’s okay. “For some people, that’s half the fun of making pizza — chasing the incremental gains with each iteration of your recipe or technique,” said Kuban.

He recommends the beginning a pizza journey with the personal pan pizza that Kenji Lopez-Alt developed for Serious Eats, because “it’s like the best Pizza Hut pan pizza you’ve ever had.”

The personal pan approach saves you the work of stretching and transferring your dough, và it allows for tons of toppings (more on that later). But if you’re anxious lớn ditch the pan and keep your crust thin, I recommend this optimized version of Jim Lahey’s no-knead dough on the Smitten Kitchen blog. The dough is soft & produces a tasty, golden, sturdy crust. Best of all, the recipe is straightforward enough for pizza-making newbies, though—like the personal pan crust—it does require hours of rising.

2. Alternatives khổng lồ Perfect Dough

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If you want pizza and you want it now, no 22-hour rise is going to lớn work for you. That’s why English muffins, bagels, and French bread exist. Store-bought naan, tortillas, & wraps are also workable stand-ins for dough. With any of these replacements you also have the advantage of a sturdy crust, since you’re starting with cooked bread, rather than raw dough.

Since a pre-made crust won’t be the star of your meal, you’ll want khổng lồ focus on your sauce và toppings (keep reading) lớn ensure a final sản phẩm even a snob wouldn’t look down his nose at. Or shouldn’t, at least.

“Purists may scoff at French bread or English muffin pizza,” said Kuban. “But I was making that stuff as a kid and I can guarantee it stoked my interest in pizza and led me down the path I’m on today. Why deny future generations of pizza-makers this gateway drug?” Exactly.

3. The Sauce

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Slow-cooked Italian “gravy” really has no place on pizza, nor does a commercial jar of too-sweet marinara. Pizza sauce is far simpler than either of those.

“You can’t go wrong with a simple sauce made from San Marzano or San Marzano–style tomatoes passed through a food mill,” said Kuban. Buy whole tomatoes, then strain out the extra juice from the can. Blend the tomatoes, or pass them through that food mill. Definitely showroom a pinch of salt; you can also throw in minced garlic & a couple teaspoons of olive oil.

4. The Cheese

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Where would pizza be without cheese? Pies would lack the golden bubbles, the sliding goo of hot mozz, & that coveted pull of stretchy cheese as it starts to lớn cool. At home, a set of “aged” (pre-packaged or supermarket) and fresh mozzarella will prevent you from ending up with a water-logged pie while still delivering both gooeyness and milky freshness. You can pick one or the other if you want to shorten the ingredient list. Using the supermarket mozzarella will lead khổng lồ a pie that resembles a thành phố new york slice, while going the fresh route produces a white-as-snow melt that seems more Italian and gourmet.

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You can grate, cube, or pull apart your cheese by hand. Use less than you’d think—when the cheese melts, it spreads.

But pizza cheese doesn’t stop at mozz. Parmesan is an essential topper, delivering saltiness, body, and umami. For optimal Parm enjoyment, make lượt thích the guys at Staten Island-style Artichoke Basille’s Pizza and pile on generous amounts of grated cheese immediately after pulling the pie from the oven. Fresh ricotta finds a home on trắng pies, & any good-tasting melting cheese—fontina, for instance—could make a cameo on a quattro formaggi pizza.

5. Stretching và Assembly

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There’s a lot of room to grow when it comes khổng lồ pizza assembly, and a few hacks khổng lồ create a good final hàng hóa even while you finesse your technique.

One thing you’ll have to bởi is stretch your dough from a lump into a sheet. If you made Lahey or Lopez-Alt’s recipe, you won’t have use for a rolling pin. Instead, use your (lightly floured) hands & gravity to lớn reshape a ball of dough into a pizza, touching và pulling as little as possible khổng lồ prevent holes. Have your oil-brushed pan or skillet on hand so that you can transfer the dough right onto it. Don’t sweat the weird shapes. If the dough becomes stubborn và won’t stretch any more, give it a break. Cover with a damp towel và occupy yourself with other tasks for 10 minutes. When you return, the dough should have relaxed.

If you’re using a pizza stone, you can assemble the pie on a paddle & slide it onto a pre-heated stone (or steel) that’s already in the oven.

When your dough is stretched, move onto the toppings.

6. Toppings

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One of the true joys of making pizza at home is choosing the exact toppings you crave, like pepperoni and olives (pictured), sausage and meatballs, or broccoli rabe và red peppers. Go wild—just not with the amounts: “My cardinal rule for saucing, cheesing, & topping is, ‘What looks like too little is usually just about right in the end, và what looks lượt thích the right amount is probably going to lớn be too much,’” said Kuban.

Kuban’s only other rule of thumb when it comes to toppings is that while you should definitely take inspiration from your favorite flavors—even non-Italian ones, like tacos or cheeseburgers—you should never be dogmatic. “The more literal you are about it, the worse it tends lớn be.”

7. Trắng Pizza

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Where would pizza be without sauce? Just fine, actually. When the red sauce takes a break, a whole slew of ingredients that might not pair perfectly with tomatoes can suddenly take center stage. White pizza, or pizza bianca, is common in Italy, where sometimes it’s so trắng it doesn’t even have cheese.

To make a white pizza, simply arrange the cheese right on the dough và build out your toppings from there. The combination of potato, rosemary, và taleggio is common in Rome. Together, mozzarella, anchovy, & arugula make a winning trio.

8. Oven Cooking

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Get your oven hot to lớn cook pizza. Searing heat will turn your base from dough to lớn crust in the same amount of time that your tomatoes morph into a jam-like sauce, & your cheese bubbles và blisters. Don’t be afraid khổng lồ crank up the oven as high as it will go—usually between 500°F và 550°F. Even this broiling temperature won’t match the heat of a commercial pizza oven, though. If you’re at the point where you want to take your trò chơi to the next level, you’ll want to invest in baking steel or a pizza stone—surfaces that absorb extra heat & direct it back onto your crust.

While these may seem like extra baggage, don’t discount them if you’re serious. The steel, said Kuban, “was the number one thing that really helped me with my New York–style crusts.”

9. Grilling

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If you dine at Al Forno, the Italian restaurant in Rhode Island that invented grilled pizza, you’ll see why many consider the grilled pizza lớn be king. With charred edges, big bubbles, và handsome grill marks, the pie looks and tastes great. But there’s another perk here for the trang chủ cook: Charcoal grills can reach temperatures of 700°F, higher than most conventional ovens (to get a grill that hot, use a lot of coals and lower the grate to lớn be closer to lớn the heat).

When you grill pizza, you have to lớn work fast. Have your toppings (not too many) on hand. Place your stretched dough on a hot part of the grill, & cook just until it solidifies—usually 2-3 minutes. Then, flip the dough and speedily build out your pizza. To make the sure the cheese melts, move the pizza to lớn a cooler part of the grill & cover for another 1-2 minutes, checking to lớn be sure the bottom doesn’t burn. Then, remove, rest, finish, và repeat with the rest of your dough.

10. Finishing Your Pie

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Your pie isn’t quite done just because it came out of the oven looking perfect. To finish off your pizza, take a few last steps. First, sprinkle with Parmesan as soon as you can—the more the better. Then, add any fresh herbs, lượt thích basil, or dry seasonings, like oregano & red pepper flakes. Finally, give your pie something extra by drizzling it with the best-quality olive oil you have. Let the pie rest for 3-5 minutes for easy slicing. Then, at last—potentially a full 24 hours after you began your pizza-pie odyssey—cut a slice & eat it. It’ll be worth it.