If my text messages or website traffic are any indication, people are rediscovering, or at least trying, the joys (and some frustrations!) of baking homemade bread and pizza during the quarantine. Nothing could make me happier. I’m filling up my freezer with lots of anxiety baking. It might not help my waistline but it is helping my mental health during these strange times.
If you’ve heard of Wisconsin Brick cheese and live outside of the Midwest, you’ve probably heard of it in relation to Detroit-style pizza. It’s a high-fat aged cheese with a uniquely tangy, salty, buttery flavor that lends the deep-pan Detroit pizza its buttery taste and more important its crispy, lacy, blackened edges. The edges will look black and burned beyond edible but don’t be fooled that’s black gold.
With just a little effort, the home cook can really up their pizza game. Ten years ago, I moved to the suburbs and immediately realized all the pizza was mediocre at best and if I wanted to once again have pizza anywhere near as good as a place in the city (even a city like Boston with an Ok but not stellar pizza rep) I was going to have to make it myself.
Since then, I’ve tried many different flours, recipes, toppings, and dough. Top it with whatever you want, what will really elevate a pizza is a great dough.
It can be the most intimidating, and sometimes demoralizing, part of the pizza-making process. You’ve made the dough, prepped the ingredients, stretched it out perfectly then go to launch it into the oven and … it sticks. There is no worse feeling for the home pizziaolo than standing over a blazing hot oven trying to wrestle some stuck dough into the oven.
Don’t despair. It happens to everyone at some point and calzones still taste good! With a little practice and following these 6 practical tips you’ll be launching your pizzas into the Ooni with pizzazz.
Plain, all-purpose white flour is a great place to start when making your own pizza dough. It has plenty of protein, strength and flexibility, making it very easy and forgiving to work with when trying to stretch it out. The downside is that all-purpose, white dough tends to lack any flavor as it’s been processed to remove the bran and germ. So if you want to take your dough to the next level and really add a dynamic shot of flavor, try adding some whole grain, which includes all three parts of the grain – bran, germ, and endosperm.
I like to think of Detroit pizza as the Sicilian’s chubby cousin. Not so rustic as, say, a focaccia, but not quite as soft and fluffy as a New York–style Sicilian slice.It’s special occasion pizza that’s dripping with cheese, fluffy in the middle and laced with crispy edges. This is not every Friday night pizza or you’ll soon be purchasing a defibrillator. But it is really good pizza.
And despite the decadent use of cheese you don’t need a wood-fired oven or 900 degrees to get professional quality. You do sort of need a special pan, if you want to get technical, but this simple and easy dough recipe is perfect for homemade pizza.
My obsession with a simple, clean and great tasting sauce for my pizzas has nothing to do with being a purist or overly frugal. I didn’t learn the history of Neopolitan sauces until later. The frugality definitely appealed to me but wasn’t the primary reason either.
The reason I started exclusively making my own simple, better sauce in 2 minutes or less was that one day I became stuck in the local food store aisle desperately searching for a jarred or canned sauce that didn’t contain corn syrup, weird additives, or tongue-twisting chemicals that seemed better left outside the body.