Want to know the secrets to making the best homemade pizza? Well come a little closer and I will reveal all!
‘But hang on!’ I hear you say. ‘Don’t you just slap some ingredients onto a pizza base and chuck it in the oven for a bit? Surely there is no secret to that?!’
Well I will admit I was of the same opinion until I attended a Pizza Masterclass this week. But the secrets I learnt and am sharing with you will take your pizza from stock-standard, to something you would pay top dollar for in a café or restaurant.
If you were served this in a café or restaurant, you would pay $17 or $18 for it, right? Right?!
Well that is the pizza created by yours truly with the help of some fresh, quality ingredients supplied by Bakers Delight, Leggos, Perfect Italiano and Woolworths.
Secret Number 1: Preparation is everything
This doesn’t mean going to laborious lengths to get your ingredients ready, but rather, if you are thinking of having pizza, start preparing for it a few days before. For example, if you have roast chicken for dinner one night, save some of the leftover chicken meat for your pizza later in the week. Or, if you are making your own pizza bases, get the dough ready in advance, so you are all set to top them and cook them.
Our chefs for the night Liam McLaughlin and Peter Wright also explained that using some ingredients raw on your pizza, like mushrooms, onions and tomatoes, which have high water content, are part of the reason why we get soggy pizzas. So doing things like lightly sautéing your mushrooms first or keeping a batch of caramelised onions on hand will give you a tastier pizza with a better texture. If you like fresh tomato on your pizza, they recommend using cherry tomatoes or romas.
Secret Number 2: It’s all in the cheese
Tasty cheddar cheese atop your pizza? Not anymore! According to Liam and Peter, tasty cheese is not designed to be heated to the high temperatures we cook our pizzas at. The high heat actually denatures the protein in the cheese and what you are left with is an oily, greasy pizza when it comes out of the oven.
The perfect cheese for pizza is a mozzarella or a cheese blend made specifically for pizza. Mozzarella can stand the high temperatures and gives you that famous stretch. It is also lower in fat and salt.
Secret Number 3: Garnish to become a pizza guru
There’s a tendency to put all our toppings on before we cook our pizza. But the last secret to the perfect pizza is to keep some of those ingredients to garnish your pizza once it comes piping hot from the oven. This made perfect sense to me as one of my favourite pizzas I have eaten out was a tandoori chicken pizza that was garnished with dollops of yoghurt and slices of cucumber. Think:
- Fresh basil
- Shaved parmesan
- Delicate cured meats like prosciutto, pancetta and parma ham
- Goats cheese
- Torn pieces of buffalo mozzarella
- Rocket leaves
- Chilli flakes
Like the tasty cheese above, the key is thinking about what ingredients will burn or lose their flavour and texture by going in the oven. They are the ones to leave off and add post-cooking.
Wait, why make a pizza when I can just pick up the phone and order one?
Two reasons: cost and nutrition.
A decent pizza (and by decent I do NOT mean a dodgy chain-store pizza!) these days can set you back a pretty penny. A small take-away wood-fired pizza made with ham off the bone costs me around $14 from my local pizza joint. Homemade pizza will not cost you anywhere near as much.
And let’s face it; pizza is not the best takeaway food going ‘round when you look at its nutrition profile. Takeaway pizzas are normally loaded with fat from the excessive amounts of cheese used and they have a really high salt content. And who can stop at just one or two slices?
With a homemade pizza, you have control over what you use as the base and what you put on top. Bakers Delight now also make wholemeal pizza bases and mini-sized bases which are great for portion control. Flat breads or Mountain Bread wraps also make great choices if you prefer a thin, crisp base. And if you are looking to up the protein of your pizza, try using ricotta instead of a tomato sauce or tomato paste as your base ingredient.
Let’s make pizza!
Are you inspired to make your own pizza at home? To get you started, I jotted down the recipes for the pizzas that were made on the night. But these are just a starting point – you are only limited by your imagination!
If you have a favourite pizza topping or another secret to add to the list, I would love to hear it in the comments below.
Disclaimer: I attended the Pizza Masterclass as a guest of Keep Left. I was not required to blog about this event and the opinions in this post are my own.