Crispy Pizza at Home: Tips for the Perfect Crust
Let’s talk about pizza: no matter how you slice it, this classic comfort food is hard to beat. But achieving truly great pizza at home can be challenging, and it all comes down to the crust. Homemade pizza is not to be feared, however: with a few simple techniques, you can make perfectly crispy pizza in your regular oven.
There are several ways to get the perfect pizza crust at home, but today we’re going to focus on two easy and effective ways, each yielding different styles of pizza.
Using a Baking Stone
A baking stone, or pizza stone, is a large piece of thick, ceramic tile that sits on the rack of your oven. By preheating the stone along with the oven to a high temperature—think in the 450°F to 500°F range—it picks up and retains a ton of heat that provides exceptional browning for your bottom crust.
Using a baking stone works for all pizza styles, but is essential for thin-crust recipes.
Pizza is generally laden with some kind of sauce, cheese, and possibly additional toppings, all of which apply weight and moisture to the pizza dough. You may have tried to bake pizza on a baking sheet before, only to be disappointed by tough edges and a floppy or even raw center. This happens when the pizza receives most of its heat from the top, cooking through the toppings before the crust has a chance to rise and bake.
By baking the pizza directly on a preheated surface that provides concentrated, constant heat, you give the thinly-stretched dough the right environment to rise and bake through from the bottom while the top cooks from the ambient heat of the oven. Remember, especially with thin crust pizza, it’s better to be conservative on the toppings so as not to weigh the dough down. A little sauce goes a long way!
The Parchment Paper Trick
To make sliding a pizza onto the stone very easy without any special equipment, line a rimless baking sheet or cutting board with a Kana Pre-Cut Parchment Paper Sheet and form the pizza directly on the parchment paper, dusted with a little flour. Slide the entire topped pizza, still on the parchment, onto the baking stone. When the pizza is finished, use tongs to grab the parchment and slide the whole pizza, paper and all, right back onto the cutting board or baking sheet.
An alternative to a pizza stone is a baking steel, which comes at a higher price point but with the added insurance of avoiding any cracking due to thermal shock. With proper care and use, however, a pizza stone should last a long time and can live on the bottom rack of your oven permanently if desired. This can help equalize and even out any hot spots in your oven and is especially useful in ovens that only heat from the bottom.
Making Cast Iron Pan Pizza
Perhaps you aren’t into thin crust pizza, or you don’t want to buy a baking stone, but you still like a crispy crust on your pizza. Here’s where a Milo 10-Inch Cast Iron Skillet comes in handy! You can use regular pizza dough to build a pie right in the pan instead of stretching it and sliding it into the oven, creating a fluffy, thick pizza with a golden brown crust.
When building a pan pizza, it’s important to apply a liberal coating of olive oil to the bottom of the cold pan before adding your dough. This not only prevents sticking, but further helps the caramelization of the bottom crust, creating that delicious crunch. The cheese is layered on both before and after the sauce, further enhancing the crispiness on the edges of the crust and creating a barrier between the crust and the sauce.
Even without preheating, the heat-retention properties of the cast iron ensure an even bake, yielding a shatteringly crisp and delicious bottom on a pillowy soft thick pizza crust. Upon removing the pizza from the oven, it’s important to run a spatula around the edges and lift the pizza onto a cooling rack as soon as possible to preserve crispiness, or else the steam created in the pan will soften the bottom.
Whether you use a baking stone or a cast iron skillet, a delicious, crispy pizza is achievable at home. Now all you have to do is figure out your ideal toppings and get baking!
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