Today’s Memo: Pizza Making Tips

I grew up in a family where we very rarely ordered pizza.  We always had homemade pizza! My father put himself through college working at a local pizza “joint” and developed a love of pizza making many years ago.  He has passed that love onto me, and I hope to pass that love onto our Charlotte.  We have even started a  tradition in our new house- Friday Family Fun Night (homemade pizza and a family activity).  Our daughter is OBSESSED with it! It has become such a fun activity to do together.

Over the course of many years of learning from the best pizza maker I know, my dad, I have learned many tips and tricks I wanted to share with you.  This will be the first of many pizza posts to come, but I thought I would start here because you can make pizza at home without going through the steps of actually making everything from scratch.

1. Make pizza making supplies once a month.  Once a month or so, I spend a weekend afternoon making my own dough and sauce (I will share my dad’s famous recipes soon!).  Then I freeze it all and pull it out and put it in our fridge Friday morning, and by the time dinner comes around, it is ready to be made into delicious pizza!

2. It is ok to not make everything from scratch!  When we head to Pennsylvania to visit my family, I am lucky that my dad will make a huge batch of his famous pizza dough and equally delicious sauce and send us home with a ton to keep in our freezer, but sometimes I run out of his supplies, as well as my homemade dough and sauce! When this happens, don’t panic! I just go to my local grocery store or favorite pizza place and ask to buy a ball of dough.  They usually come in 1lb. pieces and that makes the perfect size pizza for my family. Also, when it comes to bottled sauce, I tend to go with a good quality marinara sauce, as opposed to a bottled pizza sauce.  We prefer the taste, but feel free to use whatever your family prefers!

3. Use a pizza stone and preheat your oven.  To get that deep golden brown color on the pizza crust that you get at a pizza place, you need to use a pizza stone and preheat your oven to between 450-475 degrees for at least 15-20 minutes.  Something magical happens when you cook your pizza on a properly preheated pizza stone!

4. Let your dough come to room temperature. Be sure to take your dough out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you plan on making the pizza.  If you make sure to do this, your dough will roll out much more easily.  When pizza dough is cold, it tends to spring back when you try to roll it out. 

5. Use parchment paper and an inverted baking sheet.  My dad and my uncle taught me to cut a piece of parchment paper about the same size as my pizza.  After I roll out my dough, I put it on the parchment paper, on an inverted baking sheet and use it to easily slide my pizza onto the stone in the oven.  Using this method prevents sticking, helps get an evenly browned crust, helps me to easily remove the scorching hot pizza from the oven, and prevents me from having to purchase a pizza peel. 

6. Start seasoning from the bottom up.  After I roll out my dough and I am ready to begin building my pizza, I start by seasoning my crust.  I make a mixture of Italian seasoning and freshly grated parmesan cheese and then sprinkle it all over my crust.  It gives the finished pizza such amazing flavor! Then after I top my pizza, I put more of the same mixture over the top of the pizza right before I put it in the oven.

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My special seasoning mix gives amazing flavor to any crust!

7. Vary your sauces/toppings/cheese.  Don’t be shy with experimenting with flavors! I will often make 2 different pizzas, one I know is tried and true and one that I want to try out! Get creative–one of our favorite experiments I made was using pesto as the sauce, good quality mozzarella cheese, and sliced tomatoes.

8. Use freshly grated cheese.  This may seem like an odd tip, but it makes all the difference in the world.  I buy a block of mozzarella at my local grocery store and have my hubby grate it for me. Important–if you get a ball of fresh mozzarella, be sure to not use too much of it on your pizza.  Fresh balled mozzarella spreads as it melts and has a high water content, so if you use too much, it will make a mess in your oven! I may or may not have learned this the hard way!

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Fresh cheese makes all the difference in the world!

9. Let it cool before slicing.  This is important because if you don’t let it rest, all the toppings will fall off before you can eat it!

10. Enjoy and make memories with your family.  This may be the most important one of all!

The most important thing is to have fun! I guarantee you your pizza will taste better than any take-out pizza as long as you follow these helpful tips! Look for more pizza recipes to come!

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Charlotte and Michael have so much fun on our family fun nights. Your family can too with my easy tips and tricks!

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