The tools you need to make pizza at home, without a pizza oven

When I set out to interview pizza chefs about making restaurant-quality pizzas at home, I expected to hear about the need for portable pizza ovens. Although I wasn’t surprised to learn about the best instant yeast (Fleishman’s) and the importance of buying high quality crushed tomatoes, I was amazed that nothing chefs said the rest of us would have to shell out for a pizza oven at home.

In fact, they all agreed that you can make amazing pizza – New York, Pan, Detroit, Grandma, Sicilian and more – with your regular oven. You just need a little guidance and a few affordable gadgets, namely a pizza steel, which is a seasoned quarter-inch sheet of steel that retains and conducts heat far more than a baking stone. pizza.

Dave Quaile, founder of Freelance Pizza, a Philadelphia-based self-help pizza pop-up, said upgrading to a pizza steel was “the best investment I’ve ever made.”

“If you really want restaurant-quality pizza out of your house, you’ll need to turn the temperature up as high as possible,” he said. “A steel is better than a pizza stone because pizza stones crack, especially if you turn up the temperature.”

Joe Lamberti, founder of Philadelphia’s ?izza, which sells pizza through Instagram and local pop-ups, said the key to perfecting homemade pizza is making sure your oven is warmed up properly. “Preheat your oven with the steel in, as high as possible for an hour,” he told HuffPost.

Along with getting the right gadgets and making sure your oven is hot, our experts say the biggest tip for making your own pizza is to let your creativity run wild, find the flavors you love, and choose the flavors you like. accept that mistakes are part of the process.

“Mess up your kitchen, make mistakes and turn them into something good,” Quaile said. “I used to make a pizza with caramelized onions in whiskey, but one day I ran out of whiskey and used espresso instead because there was some and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

To help you up your home pizza game, the experts break down everything you need.

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1. Elevate your oven with a pizza steel (no, not a stone)

The original baking steel

John Carruthers is a Chicago tavern-style pizza connoisseur and the founder of Crust Fund Pizza, a monthly pizza pop-up in Chicago that benefits local charities. In Carruthers’ own oven, and when making pizza pop-ups, he uses two steels to maximize the heat.

“You put one on the bottom to cook the pizza, then you put one on an upper level rack to act as a sort of heat conduit,” he said. “It just makes your oven a much more efficient heat battery. I keep it in my oven all the time. I make bread, bagels, Cuban bread, anything on it. A pizza steel is next jump to where you can really start making pizzas that you’re super proud of.”

Carruthers says he uses this US-made 16 x 14-inch slate from the once Kickstarter-funded Baking Steel, which claims to have invented the whole concept of a pizza steel in the first place.

A more economical pizza steel

While you might want to go with the OG Baking Steel, Carruthers and Quaile say the brand name isn’t important. As long as you’re working with a sheet of steel that’s at least a quarter inch thick and you have enough room for your pies, you’re really good to go.

“It doesn’t matter who does it,” Carruthers said. “Always buy a steel a little bigger than the pizzas you are going to make.”

This 16 x 13.4-inch pizza steel is quarter-inch thick and has easy-to-grip holes for repositioning in the oven (with oven mitts, of course).

2. Get a wooden pizza peel and a kitchen scale

Fante Cousin Marko Wooden Pizza Shovel

Take it from Quaile, you need to get a pizza peel, a flat tool used to transport pizzas in and out of your oven. He suggests this 14-inch pine wood shovel from Philadelphia’s historic Fante kitchen supply store.

A shovel will be a practical help in the kitchen for raw and piping hot pies.

“When I started, I didn’t have any and I was throwing that shit in my oven like a griddle, and it was a nightmare,” he said. “But don’t cut your pizza on the pizza peel; it puts lines in the wood and it makes it harder to clean and makes it harder to slide the pizza through the oven because the sharp lines can tear the dough.”

Metal peels are also popular, but Lamberti urges you to stick with wood. “Get a wooden one, because the metal ones, the dough will stick to them faster,” he said. “The wooden one is a bit more forgiving.”

A kitchen scale

“Kitchen scales are very important for pizza making,” Quaile said. “Most recipes are in grams, and parties make your dough much more consistent.”

This glass food scale has an 11-pound capacity and can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth.

3. Don’t forget storage containers and kitchen necessities

A set of mixed size food storage containers

Lamberti’s best advice is to avoid all glass around raw dough, cheese and sauce.

“If it breaks, it’s all kind of ruined, you know? I learned to take a bunch of plastic trash cans for everything,” he said. “Next time you go to a restaurant, if you peek into the kitchen, you’ll see everything is plastic, and that makes a lot of sense.”

This is a set of 44 microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe mixed size containers with lids.

And… more tools you didn’t think of

As you fall down the home pizza rabbit hole and experiment with making your own doughs and perfecting your own toppings, you’ll inevitably need different tools, containers, and gadgets. Before spending hundreds of dollars on cookware at a big-box store, Lamberti suggests stocking up at the restaurant for the best prices.

“I would strongly recommend getting all of your pizza-related tools, peels, containers, fermentation boxes, etc., at your local restaurant supply store,” he said. “You’re going to pay about $20 for a pair of tongs or something when they’re $3.99 at the restaurant and they are of better quality.”

4. Consider converting to square pies

Pans 9 by 9 for square pizza

You may have a preconceived idea of ​​the ideal shape for your pizza. Still, when it comes to making homemade pizza — especially larger quantities — Quaile suggests embracing the square. Presetting your dough in a square pan makes pizza night at home a whole lot quicker. They’re easier to store in the fridge, and they don’t require all the stretching that circles do.

“You can pre-bake these squares, then just top them [when you want to cook] then bake them again,” he said. “It’s a lot easier not having to stretch any dough, not having to worry about getting the oven hot enough.”

Quaile uses these budget-friendly 9×9 pans from Target at home and when creating pop-ups.

5. Get pizza cookbooks

“My Pizza” by Jim Lahey

Quaile’s biggest homemade pizza tip? Checking cookbooks.

“Philadelphia’s Free Library was the most essential thing for me to learn how to make pizza,” he said. “I would pull out a book on pizza making, test the recipes, choose what I liked and didn’t like, then keep reading. [other cook books] and the kind of combining recipes. And that’s how you do different tests and create your own recipes.”

“Pizza Camp” by Joe Beddia

Portraying another Philadelphia pizza king, Lamberti suggests Joe Beddia’s “Pizza Camp” for inspiration in homemade pizza.

“It’s kind of the obvious answer, but I’m sticking with it,” he said. “I think his book has the best overall recipe that meets 100% of a pizza experience at home.”

“Foodheim” by Eric Wareheim

Fans of the comedy duo “Tim & Eric” might be surprised to see Eric Wareheim’s name on a cookbook. While it’s not only Speaking of pizza, Lamberti notes that “Foodheim” has a solid selection of pizza recipes.

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