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by: Max M Rasmussen
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Pizza #6 - Shaping and baking

Pizza with oil, thyme and onions. - Max M Rasmussen
Regardless of how you make a pizza dough, or which topping you want to put on it, the pizza has to be shaped and baked. Here I try to describe the best techniques behind that.

Shaping the pizza dough


Generally it is much easier to shape a good dough than a bad or mediocre one. It is simply more elastic and malleable. So if you have the time, make a dough that ferments as long as possible.

A wet dough, generally, is also easier to shape than a dry.

I have a general article about shaping bread . If you have the time, try to read it. Most of the same techniques are used:

Bread Baking Technique #11 - Bakery Bread - french bread, baguettes, rolls, sausage bread, sandwich and burger buns, braided bread and boules

When the pizza dough is first fermented, shaped into a ball and have raised a second time, then it's time to make it flat so that it can be baked.

You can easily use a rolling pin. However, it has the disadvantage that it makes the pizza perfectly flat. It will simply not be as airy and filled with those large irregular holes. So real enthusiasts shape by hand:-D

When you buy pizzas they are uniformly shaped and perfectly round. It's rare that one's own pizzas will be that pretty. It is a matter of experience, and us home bakers simply don't make enough pizza's to get that experience. It is not that it is impossible, but you have to practice a lot, and be careful.

The perfect roundness in bought pizzas is also usually a sign that they are made with a fairly dry dough. I prefer a wet to medium wet dough for my pizza, and they tend to be a little more uneven in appearance. The dough is simply harder to control.

Personally, I also prefer the rustic and uneven appearance of pizzas as they often are in Italy.

Push and pull technique

This is the classical technique which is simple and effective. Well, after making lots of pizzas that is :-S

Put the ball on a surface. Press it flat as gently as possible with your hands. Try to deflate as few air bubbles inside it as possible.

Press on the center of the dough with one hand, while pulling the edge of the dough away from the center with the other hand. Pull gently so you do not tear and make holes.

Pull all the way round the edge.

Move the "pressing hand" a little off center. Drag the edge away with the other hand. Next to where you are pressing.

Move both hands and repeat.

If you feel that parts of the pizza is thicker where it has to be pulled out, then go back a little and out again, on that place. Until the lump is flattened.

Continue until you have a flat pizza with a slight edge. The edge keeps the topping in place. And the pizza is baked at such a high temperature that you don't want the topping falling out, burning, and making smoke in the oven.

Oil press method

It is probably the easiest technique, but it requires that you shape your pizza on baking paper.

Put the ball on the baking paper that the pizza is to be baked on.

Put oil on your fingers and press the ball.

Press the dough with your fingertips. Start in the middle and then press down and out. Move your fingers slightly toward the edge. Put the pressure down and out, etc.

When you have done it once, then repeat until the pizza is the correct shape.

The Gravity Method

This method is like to flip pancakes. It looks good and is fast and efficient. You have probably seen it in tv and movies. But some dough WILL end up on the floor until you get it right ...

It requires a good, wet elastic dough. Otherwise, it is next to impossible.

Pressure the ball a little flat with the palms. Pull the edges.

Put the slightly flat dough on top of your knuckles as you keep up in front of you. Your hands should form an inverted bowl. If you hold your hand too pointy you will make holes in the dough, if you hold them too flat you cannot control the dough.

Turn the dough around and gently pull it further until it has the right shape.

You can throw it in the air while you spin it around. Which also stretches the dough. Once you know the technique it's actually not that difficult.

Baking Pizza

Baking pizza is easy ...

Make a pizza that is as thin as possible.

There should be no eggs, butter or milk in the dough. That will make it burn before the topping is ready.

Turn on the oven in good time. Like one hour before baking the first pizza.

Crank up your oven. The hotter the better. Like really crank it up.

If you have a baking stone, you really should use that.

Bake until the topping starts to get dark brown tIps, and the crust is golden.

Let it rest 10 minutes before you eat. Pizza is A bread, and bread needs to cool before it is baked. Pizza should only be hot. Not burning.

Baking with regular a baking pan in a conventional oven

Bake the pizza directly on a cookie sheet.

250°C (480°F) degrees for approximately 10-15 minutes.

 

Baking with a baking stone made of ... stone 

Shape and top the pizza directly on a pizza peel, put it in the oven immediately.

Bake directly on the hot baking stone.

You can also do it on baking paper. It does not make a huge difference.

250°C (480°F) degrees for approximately 8-12 minutes.

 

Baking with a baking stone made of metal

Shape and top the pizza directly on a pizza peel, put it in the oven immediately.

Bake directly on the hot baking stone.

You can also do it on baking paper. It does not make a huge difference.

250°C (480°F) degrees for approximately 6-7 minutes or

300°C (570°F) for approximately 3-5 minutes.

 

I have an article about baking stones that is relevant and important in relation to baking pizza. I strongly recommend reading it.

Baking stones for pizza and bread. - Max M Rasmussen
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by: Anonymous

Great, thanks!

I made a wet pizza dough using someone else's recipe but she didn't explain how to stretch it out...so I made a big mess of it in the end. Thanks for your clear and excellent video. Now I can try again with more confidence. :)