I always try to use the best ingredients possible, almost always making my own sauce and buying fresh and sometimes organic toppings when possible and reasonable. I do still buy my dough from either Trader Joe's or Whole Foods even though I have a bag of Tipo 00 flour in my pantry. Tipo 00 flour is an Italian flour that is higher in gluten (protein) than all-purpose flour and is also milled more finely. These properties allow for easier dough stretching and help create a chewier, crispier crust than doughs made with all purpose flour. The doughs from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods also have very different properties. The Trader Joe's dough is more prone to tears while I'm stretching it but it is much easier to stretch into a really thin crust. I primarily use Trader Joe's dough and have gotten quite good at stretching it without tearing. The Whole Foods dough is much more elastic and much less likely to tear while stretching but it is also much more difficult to stretch it really thin, if you like doughy pizza, try the Whole Foods dough. The Whole Foods dough is also much more prone to bubbling while it bakes. I prefer the Trader Joe's dough, do you have a favorite? Do you make your own dough?
To cook my pizzas, I place a pizza stone in the bottom third of my oven and crank the heat up around 500 degrees. The stone I have now is from Williams-Sonoma and is my third; it's by far the best I've had, going on six years. It's very important to put the stone in a cold oven and allow it come up to temperature with the oven. Putting a cold stone in a hot oven will inevitably lead to it's demise, sometimes in spectacular fashion with it cracking into dozens of pieces. Experimenting with different locations has led me to believe that in my oven, the lower third produces the crispiest crusts, which is what I'm after. Placing the stone higher in the oven will cook the top faster leaving a chewier, sometimes limp dough depending on what's on top of it. Experiment for yourself to find the ideal location for your pizza stone. My pizzas almost always take between 8 and 10 minutes to cook, again, depending on what toppings are on the pizza. For transferring the dough to the oven, I dust a wooden pizza peel (paddle) with corn meal.
Maybe someday I'll open a pizza place of my own, one can dream, can't he? Until then, I'll make pizzas in my oven, and soon, I hope, in my very own backyard, wood-fired, pizza oven. To see my next pizza creation, follow me on Twitter but until then, enjoy some of the pizzas from my very own Pizza Hall of Fame.
Caramelized Onion, Sweet Potato, Baby Spinach, Buffalo Mozzarella, Crumbled Goat Cheese, Basic Tomato Sauce
Do you have a favorite pizza? Please leave a comment a share your passion for pizza!