Baking Tips for Your Etalia Pizza
Making pizza with fresh dough (not pre-baked) at home can be so fun and result in the most amazing pizza! It does require a bit of practice, but once you get it, you’ll be everyone’s hero. The biggest challenges are getting the dough to rise and bubble as it bakes and getting the bottom of the crust to be nice and crispy (if you like crispy pizza). There have been many books and articles written on this topic of which I have read many. I love sharing what I’ve learned so people can make amazing pizza at home!
I’ve been baking pizza at home for many years, so I have a lot of tips and tricks to share :) Many things affect the baking of a pizza, so it requires trying different things until you get the pizza you want. But once you do, it’s sooo worth it because your pizza will be sooo delicious!
Cooking Tips1) Baking Surface - Use a Pizza Screen!
2) Olive Oil - Crispy Crust
3) Your Oven
4) Pizza Prep
1) Baking Surface—Use a Pizza Screen!
- Pizza Screen
- For fresh dough, a pizza screen is a must because it allows hot air to come in direct contact with the dough to bake it through. There’s a high level of moisture in fresh dough (vs. pre-baked), and that moisture needs to evaporate. If the pizza is baked on a solid pan or surface, the moisture has nowhere to go.
- Support the Dough
- With fresh dough, you need something to support it, or it will “melt” through the oven rack. That’s why if you don’t have a pizza screen yet, we include a piece of white square parchment paper in the box to put the pizza on. You can then put the pizza with parchment paper underneath directly on the rack.
- Season Your Pizza Screen
- New screens have to be seasoned to prevent the pizza from sticking to them. Simply spray or rub the screen with vegetable oil and bake the screen at 375° for 30 minutes. Let it cool, then repeat one or two more times, if needed. The screen will start to turn an amber color and will eventually darken to almost black with continued use. You may want to lightly oil the screen the first time you use it after seasoning, but after that, you should be good to go.
- You can also season your screen on an outdoor grill.
2) Olive Oil - Amazing Crispy Crust!
- Rub Olive Oil on Bottom of the Pizza
- You must do this while the pizza is still frozen. So, right after you take the pizza out of the freezer and before you put it on the pizza screen, just rub the bottom of the pizza with some olive oil.
- Rub Olive Oil on Top Outside Edge of the Pizza
- You can also add a little extra olive oil to the top of the pizza around the outside edge to give it even more rise, bubbles, and crisp!
3) Your Oven
- Every Oven is Different
- Every oven is different. I can’t stress that enough. What works in one oven might not work in another, so you’ll want to find what works best in yours.
- Oven Setting - Conventional (Not Convection)
- Conventional setting is best. It produces more heat on the bottom of the oven vs. convection that blows the air all around. For pizza, you want more heat at the bottom of the oven so the crust can bake through.
- People often set it on convection, thinking it will bake the pizza faster, but it’s just not good for baking pizza.
- Rack Position in Oven
- I recommend baking your pizza on the bottom rack position. It will enable the fresh dough to bake through and get nice and crispy because the pizza is closer to the bottom heat coils of your oven.
- Feel free to play around with the rack position. For those that don't like a really crispy crust, just use the second from the bottom rack position.
- Don’t Block Heat from Coils on the Bottom of Your Oven
- You don’t want anything to be between your pizza (on the screen) and the coils on the bottom of your oven. If there is an oven liner or foil on the bottom of the oven—or an empty pan on a rack below—it will block the heat from getting to the bottom of the crust and prevent it from baking through.
- Preheating Your Oven to 475 - 500ºF
- You want to get your oven as hot as possible. Even after the preheat light goes off, let it heat up for at least another 30-60 minutes. The longer you let it heat up, the better.
- Temperature & Time
- The top and outside of the pizza always cook first. The middle of the pizza cooks last. If the bottom of the pizza didn’t bake through (and nothing was between the pizza and heat coils on the bottom of the oven) then either the oven wasn’t hot enough, or it needed more time.
- If the top of the pizza is getting too done before the middle bakes through, put a baking pan on the rack above the pizza, so it blocks the heat from the top of the oven. Only do this after the first 10 minutes. The dough needs all the heat it can get in the first 10 minutes to get the bubbles and beautiful rise.
- Never open the oven door in the first 10 minutes for the same reason as above—the dough needs all the heat it can get in the beginning to get the bubbles.
4) Pizza Prep
- Keep Pizza Frozen While Preheating Oven
- If you let the pizza sit out before it’s ready to bake, the dough will start to thaw, which will cause the pizza to stick to the screen and prevent it from getting crispy. Keep the pizza in the freezer while preheating the oven. Once the oven is ready, then take your pizza out of the freezer, place it on the screen, and put it right in the oven.
Remove all packaging from your pizza before you put it on the your pizza screen—INCLUDING THE ROUND PIECE OF PAPER UNDERNEATH THE PIZZA.