The Shape of Everything
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November 22, 2007
(This post is from my old, old, super old site. My views have changed over the years, hopefully my writing has improved, and there is now more than a handful of folks reading my site. Enjoy.)

I thought I would share some lessons and random tips I've learned over the years, and which you should probably consider when baking your pizzas this holiday season. Here we go.

Make sure you have a pizza stone to cook you pie on! And make sure the stone is nice and hot before you put your pie on it. Let the oven preheat for 10 extra minutes more than you normally would just to make sure it's up to the right temp (I typically heat the oven between 470-490 degrees). Also, right before you place your pizza-to-be on the stone, pour a teaspoon of light olive oil in the very center of the stone- it'll give the crust a nice flavor and a golden brown finish to it.

When making your own pizza dough try adding a little more or little less sugar- or maybe experiment with brown sugar. Try different flours as well, including mixing 1/8th part of semolina flour with your regular flour. When making wheat crust, use 1 part wheat to 3 parts white, otherwise it'll be hard as a rock. I've also found that you can add a bit of oregano when mixing your dough up- but other herbs don't work so well and tend to change the taste of the crust in weird ways. I have know idea why. Finally, when you've got your dough ball, rub a light coat of olive oil on it so it doesn't dry out when it raises.

Try a ceramic bowl to raise your dough in- and as a bonus, clingwrap sticks nicely to the edges of it if you want to use that to cover your dough up (still put the official towel on top of that of course). Also experiment with how you raise your dough; raise it for two hours behind the fans of your Mac Pro- or let it sit for 8 hours in a cool room. Different things happen to the dough depending on the temperature you raise it in.

When flattening the dough, make sure it is at room temperature, or a maybe even warmer. The warmer the dough is, the easier it is to flatten. Don't feel guilty using a rolling pin- it works great if you want thin crust pizza. (Officially Certified Italian pizza forbids this- you can only use your hands!).

If you like the idea of using a teaspoon of olive oil on the stone- try making a small pizza and frying the crust in a large pan of olive oil before you put your toppings on and stick it in the oven. Talk about super sweet crust... small pizzas though.

Use the best cheese, and highest quality toppings you can find. A pizza is only as good as what it's made of.

Let your pizza cool off before biting into it. I know you're exited, but it's not worth burning off your taste buds or scaring the roof of your mouth (again). And if you are super hungry, cut the pizza into thinner slices so that when you eat "just one more piece" it won't be huge and you won't feel as guilty.

Oh, and get a real pizza cutter.

Got any more tips? The comments are open!