One of the more interesting trends in the food world over the last couple of years has been the rising popularity of home pizza ovens. They range from custom brick ovens in the backyard to portable propane-fired ovens that people use at home, at picnics, or at campsites.
People are bringing pizza making out of the restaurants and into the home kitchen!
Of course, you don’t need a dedicated pizza oven to make homemade pizza. Many people bake delicious pizza in their home ovens or on their grill. Whether you are a newcomer to the world of homemade pizza or an old pro, there are some tools that are a great help in producing that perfect pizza pie.
1. Pizza Stone / Pizza Steel
A pizza stone holds heat very well and conducts it to the pizza. This helps the pizza bake evenly and also develop a crispy crust. Many people also use stones or steel when baking bread to help it develop a crunchy crust. Put the pizza stone in the oven or on the grill as it preheats and let it come up to temperature. The immediate high heat transfer that takes place when you put the pizza or bread dough on the stone is one of its secrets.
After using your stone, let it cool completely before cleaning it. This will help to prevent the stone from cracking. Use a dough scraper or other flat utensil to remove any dough that may have stuck to the stone, then wash it with water only (no soap). Let it air dry and it’s ready for your next use.
2. Pizza Peel / Paddle
One of the other most common pizza baking tools is a pizza peel, or paddle. Basically a large flat surface with a lengthy handle, a peel is a great way to move pizzas safely in and out of an oven.
You will find pizza peels made of different materials, but the two most common are wood and aluminum. Because an aluminum peel can be thinner than one made of wood, it is often easier to slide under the pizza. But with a little practice, you can learn to slide the wooden paddle just as easily. One advantage of a wooden peel is its versatility. A wooden peel can double as a cutting board for slicing your pizza, and many people serve their pizza on a wooden paddle as well.
If you do use a wooden peel, treat it like you would a cutting board. Wash by hand and air dry (no wood product should ever be washed in a dishwasher.) Periodical use of food-grade mineral oil will keep the peel hydrated and help prevent cracking.
Assemble your pizza on the paddle (a little cornstarch on the paddle before placing the dough on it might help prevent any sticking). Then use the paddle to transfer your pizza to the preheated pizza stone or oven rack. When you pizza has finished baking, use the paddle to safely remove the pizza from the oven or grill and enjoy!
3. Pizza Cutter
One other pizza tool choice that you will need to make is what you will use to slice the pizza. The most common tool is a cutter with a round blade that rolls along the pizza as you slice it. These types of cutters are good for any size pizza. One variable to consider is the size of the round blade on the cutter. If you are slicing a deep dish pizza, you will need a cutter with a blade large enough to slice all the way through the pizza.
Some people prefer a long rocker blade pizza cutter that slices through the entire width of the pizza at one time (this can be helpful for those of us who have a hard time keeping a straight line with the rolling cutters.). These blades are often rather large because of varying sizes of pizzas that may need to be sliced.
A third option is a pair of scissors. You simply cut through the pizza and crust to create the size of slice that you want. This is obviously not a good choice for deep dish pizza. You can use regular scissors or kitchen shears to do this, but many people use specific pizza scissors that are designed specifically for cutting pizza.
Whatever tools you use, a homemade pizza made to your own personal specifications can be a great meal choice. You can make your own pizza dough or buy it pre-made at the grocery store. And it’s always fun to experiment with different cheeses or toppings.
Join me in making a homemade pizza pie this week!
by Robby Richardson