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How NOT to make pizza at home…

Do as I say, not as I do…(famous words from my parents and many). Well, next time I want pizza, it’s OUT for me, meaning carry OUT or eat OUT! Last night I decided I wanted to make pizza at home. It was a comedy of errors.

I’ve had pizza stones for years, but never a pizza peel (a device used to build the pizza on and then transfer to the hot stone in the oven). A peel just seemed like one of those tools you’d buy and use once a year? I always assumed I could substitute something for it. Hmmm…don’t use flexible mats (mistake #1)Hmmm…no corn meal for dusting the peel (so that the pizza would easily transfer to the stone and not stick)…this was mistake #2…never assume (mistake #3)….(mistakes will be referenced throughout this post)

First, I bought fresh dough from a local market. It smelled wonderful, all puffy and yeasty. I cut the dough ball into two and then I began to attempt to stretch it. That’s when it went downhill. Oh the laughing was great (husband laughing AT me), the stretching was not. He asked “what shape are they supposed to be?”… I have a new appreciation for pizza makers, particularly those who toss them up in the air and make it look effortless. So we each took a dough ball and worked on stretching the dough. So what to use to build the pizzas on? Well (because I didn’t have a pizza peel) I assumed I could use the plastic flexible cutting mats (mistake #1 and #3) thinking that if I dusted them with flour instead of the corn meal that I didn’t have (mistake #2) that I’d be able to slide the pizzas off of the mat onto the cooking stone (again, mistake #3, assuming).  I had fresh mushrooms, pepperoni, Applewood smoked bacon (that I cooked earlier in the day), Ricotta, fresh mozzarella, freshly shaved Parmesan, and roasted tomatoes (that I cooked earlier in the day). Hmmm…no tomato paste in the pantry, only canned tomatoes…(mistake #4, not having a shopping list). So I pureed the roasted tomatoes, added the garlic, a can of drained tomatoes, seasonings, but it was still a little too thin for pizza sauce. I needed a touch of tomato paste…so no choice but to reduce the sauce. When the sauce is eventually thick enough, I start building the pizzas. In the meantime, the stones are in the oven on 450 degrees getting nice and hot. What’s that smoke??? (mistake #5, not ensuring that the oven is PERFECTLY clean before high heat – one tiny little drop of food on the bottom not visible to the naked eye and with the high heat, you’re going to get smoke). Eventually the smoke burned off, with the help of a great Bosch oven hood, and we were good to go. So my husband pulled the oven rack out for me to slide the pizzas onto. But the pizzas don’t want to slide. Why? Because they’re STUCK. Why? Because I had no cornmeal (mistake #2) and because I chose to use a floured plastic flexible mat instead of waiting until I bought a pizza peel (mistake #1). Um, now what? close the oven and let’s try and lift the edges of the now heavily topped pizza and get more flour under the dough in hopes that it would slide. But no go. Was it the olive oil that we drizzled on the dough before topping them or the sauce that soaked through the tiny holes in the poorly stretched dough? Who knows, who cares, all I know is that I have a big mess on my hands and I reallllly wanted pizza. I wanted this homemade pizza. Hmmm…maybe we’ll fold it up like a Calzone and just cook it that way? Okay, so that’s what we did with one of them. Rolled it up and dropped it on the stone. But I was determined to put the other one flat on the stone. Or so I tried. But when it looked like a big mess of toppings and wet dough, we couldn’t really tell what was what, it was that bad. So after putting the mangled pizza on the stone, I tried my best to salvage what still appeared to be dough, cheese and toppings and get it all into place, cover with more cheese and get it in the oven to cook. At this point I just really gave up on the whole photo blogging the recipe thing. Now I just wanted to eat! Well, the Calzone style pizza looked nice, but the inside dough didn’t cook at the same pace as the outside! So while the other pizza was cooking, we cut off the edges of the Calzone and although they were done, the toppings were all in the middle. We put it back in the oven. We took the other flat pizza out. Okay, it tastes pretty good, but looks like a mess and it’s still too doughy. The photo of the flat pizza doesn’t show how bad it really looked and I should have taken a picture of how it looked all completely mangled before cooking it. I have to hand it to the cheese. Cheese covers a lot…Needless to say, we didn’t keep the leftovers and I am NOT making pizza at home again. Unless I get a pizza peel…

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3 responses

  1. Pingback: Gourmet Pizza at Home… « Musings of the FoodMadam

  2. LOL… I guess I cheated! I used a greased cookie sheet and rolled my dough (after I let the yest raise it up a bit) onto a flowered cutting board. Then I tossed it about the air and shaped it on the cookie sheet all before I built up the pizza. It was delicious. It might not have looked pretty but the taste made up for that short coming.
    You should try it again!

    November 4, 2009 at 12:21 PM

  3. My first experience with homemade pizza dough, and my new stone resulted in TEARS and a near nervous breakdown! I even had to leave the apartment and go to the gym to work off the frustration!

    Here’s a tip for both transfer and cooking, PARCHMENT PAPER! When I first began assembling my pizzas I rolled out parchment paper on my cutting board while the stone was heating. I put my dough on the paper, and piled on my toppings. Then I just slide the parchment paper onto the stone and let it cook that way. Now my stone more resistant to sticky and cornmeal just does the job for me. I still don’t have a pizza peel, but I use my flexy cutting board, and an “assistant” to help transfer the pizza!

    Here’s my pizza post in my blog!

    October 28, 2009 at 11:59 PM

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