We all love a good slice of pizza – and not just any pizza. We’re talking real, high-quality artisan pizza – whether that’s from the nearest artisan pizza shop or – preferably – handmade right at home. It might take a bit more work, but there’s a lot of different pizza styles out there….and handmaking your pizza right at home will give you the total control over exactly how it tastes, the kind of crust you’re craving, and all the toppings you could want.
But, while there are definitely many different ways to make a good artisan pizza – all as legitimate as the next one – there are some basic techniques and “rules” you might want to follow to ensure you get a perfect pizza every single time. Here are the essential techniques and tips you need to know to make the Ultimate Artisan Pizza.
Make Your Dough Ahead of Time – Up to 24 Hours
Dough takes some time to rise, so you will always need to wait at least a few minutes before baking a fresh pizza. But many expert pizza chefs believe that by making your dough up to 24 hours in advance, and letting is rest all day or even overnight, you’ll get an extra chewy dough; dough will ferment over that time, allowing the gluten to break down and relaxing – creating a softer, chewier bread every time. This is essentially what happens with sourdough bread, and if you experiment with a sourdough pizza crust, you’ll likely be in for a real treat.
When you do make your dough ahead of time, however, be sure to take it out of the fridge in time to let it warm up before rolling and popping in the oven; this will allow it to rise properly and heat evenly in the oven, resulting in the best chewiness and
Use The Right Oil: Olive Oil
You can probably find cheap pizzas using any other kind of vegetable oil (or even peanut oil) at any old shop, but if you’re making a real artisan pizza, you really need to use the best tasting, freshest, healthiest oil possible. When it comes to pizza, that means olive oil. Ideally, it would be cold-pressed olive oil, fresh pressed quite recently and stored properly (in a cool dark place). Olive oil gets that authentic fresh Italian flavor and perfectly complements the tomatoes (and any other fresh ingredients, like cheese and veggies). If, however, you’re aiming for a really greasy, tasty and different flavor – you could go for duck fat or lard.
Use a Pizza Stone
Unless you’ve got a brick oven in the backyard, you need to get your hands on a pizza stone; this will mimic the even-heating, crust-crisping properties of brick and turn your kitchen oven into an artisan pizza bakery with minimal effort. Trust us – the resulting crust and perfectly-browned cheese is worth it! Be sure to fire that oven up as hot as it gets – 500F or more if you can – to heat that pizza stone all the way through and really mimic that brick oven baking environment.
Don’t Go Ham On The Toppings
Well, okay – feel free to put some ham on there if you really like. We always like a good meat lover’s pizza. All we meant was – don’t put too many toppings on there! This will keep the cheese from browning properly and the crust from baking properly and can result in too much moisture. Besides – all those extra toppings can also mean that the delicious cheese and sauce is lost underneath all that other flavor!
To make the most of your strategically placed ingredients, you can also try “poaching” them in olive oil; that is, cooking them (at least partially) in oil before putting them on top of the pizza. This results in extra flavor and perfect doneness when that pizza comes out of the oven!