One of my greatest joys is teaching students to make pizza for the first time. Students (and adults) are always amazed, surprised and delighted when they learn to make pizza for the first time. As with learning any new skill practice improves the skill set. However, preparation beforehand is the most important aspect of making pizza.
Preparation is the Key
Pizza class can be one or two sessions depending on the time available. For a complete class, we will make the dough at least the day before. If this is not possible, I will bring finished dough to class.
Pizza dough requires only 4 ingredients. Flour, water, salt, and yeast. These ingredients are easy to get and are available in any supermarket. We will briefly discuss the importance of where the ingredients come from and how they are produced. This is followed by an explanation of the fact that yeast is a living organism.
The dough recipe is very simple:
- 4 cups of flour
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon of yeast
- 1 teaspoon of salt.
I will demo how to create the dough along with the students. If there is a large class we will cut the dough recipe in half so each student can experience making the dough.
Once the dough is mixed and kneaded we will drizzle a bit of olive oil on each dough ball and put in bowls for an overnight ferment. Making the dough the day before can greatly improve the taste of the finished pizza.
On pizza making day, it is important to have all pizza toppings prepared ahead of time. Ingredients can include canned tomatoes, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese, vegetables, as well as meats such as pepperoni. All toppings that will be used are prepared ahead of time and placed in containers. Chopping, cutting and preparing the toppings for the pizza is an essential step. In other words, preparation will save time, energy and make pizza making much easier.
The dough is taken out of the freezer and allowed to warm to room temperature. Each dough batch is divided into eight pieces and formed into a ball. using a smaller dough ball is much easier for each student to create their own personal pizza.
I demo how to form the dough from a ball into a round pizza shape. I use a technique borrowed from my friend, Mark Bello, called “soft bongos”. The dough ball is gently tapped and flipped over until formed into a pizza shape. I always quote Chef Todd English who explains: “Never trust a round pizza.”
The pizzas are topped and placed in an oven preheated pizza stone such as this rectangular pizza stone for an hour of 500+ degrees F. (260+ C.) Make sure you place the pizza stone in the oven before you turn it on. The stone needs to be HOT, HOT, HOT
The pizza will be cooked in 6-8 minutes depending on your oven.
Everyone is overjoyed when they are able to taste their very own pizza. A pizza they created, from scratch. Each student is also surprised at how relatively simple it is to make your own homemade pizza!
I’ll be sharing more pizza adventures in upcoming posts. Stay tuned!
Pizza on earth, Good Will to All!