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Easy as Pie . . . Well, Sort Of

What a crust!

I think I can eat pizza every day. Cold, lukewarm, hot, and yes, sometimes the sloppy mess you're left with after you stop short for a red light.

Ready for the oven . . .

A few years ago I started experimenting with making my own. I still buy pizza from the local guy (Gino's, of course) but there really is no replacement for the homemade stuff.

My first few attempts to master pizza making were quite embarrassing. I couldn't get the dough right and it would tear, leaving weak spots where the sauce would leak out onto the pizza peel. That's not a good thing if you want to slide the pie into the oven like the pros do. Anything sticking to the peel means a mess that goes into the oven--something resembling a Jackson Pollock painting all over your pizza stone. I now use parchment paper on the bottom of my raw pizza and pull out the paper after a few minutes of cooking. It eliminates the sticking problem.

Some other things I learned:

  1. Use the right flour. I finally found a supermarket that carries Tipo "00" flour. This is a very finely graded flour that produces a great crust and a dough that takes a beating.

  2. Find a good recipe and stick with it. There are a gazillion pizza dough recipes out there. The one I use most is Ina Garten's pizza dough recipe.

  3. Buy a pizza peel and stone. OK, so maybe you can do without the peel, but wow does it make you feel like a pro when you use one. A stone is a must if you want that deep crust.

  4. Temperature is important. Though you can make good pizza in an oven that doesn't go beyond 500 degrees, the hotter the better. I've even tried it on a gas grill.

  5. Have lots of patience. If bad pizza-making was a crime, I'd be serving a life sentence. Be very patient. It will take you many more than several attempts to get it right.

  6. Make your own sauce if you can. Nothing like it.

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