5 Essential Tools for the Novice Home Pizza Chef

5 essential tools for the novice home pizza chef

Making pizza at home isn’t all that difficult and with a little practice you can often turn out pies that are just as good and probably better than your local corner pizza joint. You do, however, need a few pieces of equipment. 

Sure, you can get by with just an upside down cookie sheet and a maxed out oven in a pinch, but a few essential tools can really push your home pizza making to the next level.

This list assumes you want to give this homemade pizza thing a try, but aren’t yet up for making your own dough. Let’s say you buy some dough at the local grocery store or get it from a pizza shop.

What other tools do you need to make quality pizza at home?

 

Pizza stone

A baking or pizza stone is a thick, flat piece of natural stone that goes in the oven, is preheated, and is used for baking.

Our pizza stone basically stays in the oven all the time even when it’s not being used for cooking pizza. Unlike just using a cookie sheet, the ceramic material of a baking stone will hold your oven’s heat more evenly (some believe the porous surface also helps draw water out of wet areas of the dough to help it crisp). Preheating the stone also will give the dough a nice bounce from that initial blast of heat, puffing up the crust. A half sheet pan will struggle to do that.

You don’t need a particularly expensive stone. Look for a stone made of natural materials with absorbent properties. I like the larger rectangular ones so I’m not aiming the pizza as I launch it into the oven. You don’t have to break the bank. I wouldn’t spend more than $30-40 dollars. Look for something like this stone.

 

Pizza peel

A pizza peel is the tool that you use to get the dough or finished pizza into and out of the oven. If you are going to purchase just one, I’d recommend a steel one. A steel one, combined with parchment paper (more on that below), will get your pizzas into and out of the oven without a problem. 

If you are a traditionalist, you will want a wooden peel to launch the pizza into the oven and then a steel bladed one to get them back out.

Wooden peels are great for launching as they absorb some moisture and will give you more margin for error when dealing with sticky dough. Just don’t let your raw dough sit too long, even a wood peel will eventually stick.

Metal peels are much easier to slide under a finished pie and get it out of the oven.

 

Pizza cutter

A steak knife is just not going to cut it. You’ll end up massacring you pie into a tangle of sauce and cheese. Do yourself a favor and get an old fashioned pizza wheel. It’s simple and it works. I like the OXO brand.

 

Parchment paper

With practice, you can definitely learn to prepare your peel and launch your dough onto the stone without mishap, but it will take a few mishaps to get it right. You will have dough stick, slide sideways, fold onto itself, spill into the oven. Basically make a mess and put you in a foul mood as you try to clean a very hot oven.

Why not save yourself the trouble and put down a sheet of parchment paper. The paper will save you countless headaches. You can slide it right into the oven with your pizza and after a few minutes when you check the pie, pull it back out again. You might lose a few points with traditionalists and a few degrees of char on the bottom, but you definitely won’t lose a pie on the floor. That’s worth the price in my opinion. Any parchment will do.

 

Bench scraper

The bench scraper might be my favorite baking tool. It makes dividing the dough and then cleaning up the flour and bits stuck to the counter a breeze. A simple tool that does simple jobs well. 

 

That’s it. Five tools, maybe you already have a few lurking in your cupboards right now. None are all that expensive (at least compared to putting in your own wood-fired oven). If you are on a budget, get the baking stone and a peel, those will help the most. Each of these tools will greatly elevate your homemade pizza game.  

Be careful, you might not ever go back to delivery.

 

 

MIKE'S WINDOW

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