Improve your pizza making skills with expert tips and techniques, and share your own ideas with the rest of the MPO community. We’re always looking for something new to try out ourselves!
Assembling Your Pizza (Pie)
Assemble your pizzas directly on short wooden pizza peels so that they are ready to be transferred onto the pizza stone for cooking. Use just enough sauce to cover your pie base while still leaving the white dough visible through the sauce. Leave the rim around the pizza base uncovered so that it can puff up.
Next, spread the cheese to lightly cover the pizza. Don’t put too much cheese, but leave places where both the sauce and the dough show through. If you are using fresh mozzarella, you can cut it into cubes, tear it, or cut it into thin slices.
The rest is up to you. Add your favorite topping ingredients to complete your pizza to your taste. Finally, just before you place your pizza on the Mighty Pizza Oven’s round pizza stone to bake, sprinkle it with 1 or 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
How to use the Pizza Peel
You can improve your pizza making skills by using two pizza peels for baking: a short-handled, wooden pizza peel for building your pizza on and a round metal peel for turning your pizza while it’s cooking and for removing the pizza from the oven.
Before you begin to assemble your pizza, spread some flour on the wooden peel to keep the pizza from sticking and help it slide off when it is time to bake it. Take care not to use too much flour because it will burn and give the pizza a bad flavor, while too little flour will make your pizza stick to the peel. Always assemble your pizza right before you intend to place it on the stone because if you leave it sit on the peel, moisture will seep through the flour and it will stick.
A pizza peel can be a little bit tricky to use at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it! Before you transfer your pizza from the peel to the Mighty Pizza Oven’s round stone, you need to make sure it is not stuck to the peel. Hold the peel level and in front of you and quickly jerk it back and forth a few times to loosen the pizza. If the pizza remains stuck, lift up one side using your fingers and sprinkle some flour underneath and repeat the jerking movement. When you are sure the pizza is loose (it can slide around a bit) place the peel at the very back of the pizza stone, holding the handle at an upward angle and slide off the pizza slowly onto the stone with a series of short but quick backward jerks. Short, rapid movements is the secret here. Don’t try and transfer the pizza with one big jerk or you could very well end up with a complete mess.
The wooden pizza peel will last for a long time, as long as you take good care of it. Avoid getting your peel too wet or it may warp and crack, and never cut on the peel as any scratches will ruin its non-stick properties.
Baking your pizza is a special moment. It’s when the magic happens and all your efforts finally pay off.
Once the MPO’s stones are hot, slide your pizza off the peel and onto the round stone as described above. You will know that your pizza stone is hot enough to bake correctly because the ‘cornicione’ or outer rim of your pie puffs up after about a minute or so.
You will need to turn your pizzas around a couple of times as they bake because pizzas will bake more quickly in the back. Use the metal peel to turn your pizza 180º every couple of minutes until it is done. You pizza should be perfectly baked in around 2 to 5 minutes.
The perfect pizza is bubbling on top with the cheese completely melted with some browning, but not burnt. It should also have a brown outer crust that is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and a dark brown bottom. While the pizza is still piping hot, garnish it with some fresh basil, use a pizza cutting wheel to cut your pie into slices, and it’s ready to serve!
Note: Part of improving your pizza making skills is to know how to control grill heat to MPO. Each grill is different. This may couple of baking sessions, this applies to any pizza oven.
The Finished Master Piece
Your finished pizza should have some dark brown blisters that will tell you that the dough has been made correctly and that your pizza stones were hot enough to bake. The bottom of the pizza should also be dark brown with dark brown blisters. If you are getting a light brown pizza bottom, this means your stones were not fully heated and you are not getting the full crunch and flavor in your pizzas. In this case, leave your pizza stones heat up for a bit longer next time.
The MPO heats up quickly between bakes. If you are noticing that the bottom of each successive pizza is a little lighter than the one before, this is because each pizza takes some heat out of the stone and the stone is a little cooler each time you place a new pizza in the oven. In this case, you should either wait for a few minutes between pizzas, to give the pizza stones more time to heat back up to the right temperature, or you can bake your later pizzas a little longer.
If you find that the bottom of your pizzas are burned or taste bitter, you are probably putting too much flour on the pizza peel. This flour ends up on the pizza stone and gets burnt very quickly because it is dry. Corn meal too can burn and give your pizzas a bitter, scorched, and even gritty taste.
Your crust should be crispy, but not hard or crunchy, and you should be able to fold the pizza without breaking or cracking the crust. Pizza that is too crunchy, brittle or tough is usually a sign that you have overworked the dough. Try to handle the dough less next time and don’t use a rolling pin.
The ‘cornicione’ or outer rim should puff up with nice, big air holes, and should be crispy on the outside and moist and slightly chewy on the inside. It should be neither heavy nor dense. If your crumb and cornicione are turning out too dense, check to see that you are fully hydrating your dough – moist dough can quickly expand when the pizza is placed in your hot oven.
If your pizzas are turning out chewy, there are number of things that might be the cause. One problem could be that your pizza base is too thick, making it impossible for your pizza stone to fully bake the dough. Quite commonly, the middle of the pizza is properly baked, while the outer rim is not. In such a case, take care that the outer rim of your dough base is not noticeably thicker than the rest of your pizza.
Another issue could be that you have put too many ingredients or too much sauce and cheese on your pizza base. Artisanal pizza is lighter than traditional pizza chain-restaurant and focuses on flavor, rather than quantity of ingredients. Try going a little lighter and using some very high quality ingredients, and see how you like it.
Share your Pizza Making Skills with us…