From The Joy of Pizza: Everything You Need to Know by Dan Richer with Katie Parla
How to Launch and Bake Your Pizza
Tools: Pizza peel: I like using a wooden peel (never metal) for launching my pizzas into the oven, but I’ll improvise and even use a clean 12-inch piece of rigid cardboard in a pinch.
You’ve got your pizza on your peel. You topped it cautiously, making sure you didn’t get any moisture onto the peel, and you’ve dried your hands. The oven is completely and fully preheated to 500°, with a baking steel or stone ready inside. Your whole house is hot. It’s time.
Before you open the oven door, give the peel a quick jerk. The pizza should move slightly in response to your movements. If the pizza sticks to the peel, it’s pretty hard to salvage. You can, theoretically, try to lift up the part of the dough that’s stuck to the peel and dust it with additional rice flour, but for me it’s not worth the risk of the dough staying stuck and launching cheese and sauce all over the inside of my oven.
When this happens, I just fold the dough in half and make it into a calzone, the most delicious way I know to recover from a round pizza failure. There’s a lot riding on this moment, but it’s important to be confident as you launch the pizza into the oven. Swift, confident movements count. Grip the peel with your dominant hand and open the oven door with your other hand. Land the tip of the peel about a half inch from the far edge of the stone or steel. Pull the peel swiftly away, cautiously allowing the dough to fall into place.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t pull this off at first. This is a legitimately difficult part of the process and it takes practice. Close the door and turn on the oven light. The pizza needs to bake for 6 to 7 minutes. Set a timer for 3 minutes. Check the pizza at the 3-minute mark to inspect the oven spring and rim caramelization.
Oven spring should be complete—meaning the rim should be prominently raised. Caramelization should be in progress—meaning the rim will be beginning to brown. Most ovens have hot spots, so if you see one part is cooking more quickly than another, slide the peel underneath the pizza and use your fingers or tongs to reposition it so the pizza cooks evenly, then close the door quickly. You want all these movements to be efficient so the oven loses as little heat as possible. Set the timer for 3 minutes.
The pizza should be baked and the toppings should be melted or cooked within 6 to 7 minutes total, but use your intuition to tell when the pizza is done.
Maple Bacon Pizza
This pizza is an undeniable crowd pleaser and really takes me back to my early teens when sweet and savory bacon dishes were all the rage. We like to keep the sweetness in check and only use a teaspoon of maple syrup for the whole pizza, which is enough to contrast the savoriness of the bacon without being cloying. Use the best syrup you can get your hands on.
|For the Maple Bacon Pizza (makes 1 pizza):
Dough for 1 round 12-inch pizza
100 grams fresh mozzarella, torn or cut into 1-inch pieces
2 strips bacon, coked 75 percent of the way and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 tbsp Caramelized Onions (recipe below)
1 tsp high-quality maple syrup
|For the Caramelized Onions (makes 1 cup):
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp pork fat or butter or extra-virgin olive oil
6 medium onions, thinly sliced
Stretch the dough as outlined in the book. Transfer to a floured peel.
Distribute the mozzarella over the pizza dough to the edge of the raised border followed by the bacon and onions. Drizzle with the syrup.
Bake as directed above.
For the Caramelized Onions:
Heat the pork fat and onions in a large pan over low heat. Season with salt.
Cook until soft and caramelized, about 45 minutes. The caramelized onions will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Excerpted from THE JOY OF PIZZA by Dan Richer with Katie Parla. Copyright © 2021. Available November 2021 from Voracious Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Learn to make artisan pizza the American way in this accessible, informative guide to the perfect pie from the creator of "the best pizza in New York" (New York Times).
Pizza is simple: dough, sauce, cheese, toppings. But inside these ordinary ingredients lies a world of extraordinary possibility. With The Joy of Pizza, you’ll make the best pizza of your life.
Dan Richer has devoted his career to discovering the secrets to a transcendent pie. The pizza at his restaurant, Razza, is among the best one can eat in the United States, if not the world. Now, Richer shares all he has learned about baking pizza with a crisp, caramelized rim; a delicate, floral-scented crumb; and a luscious combination of sauce, cheese, and toppings that gets as close to perfection as any mortal may dare.
You’ll learn how to make Razza specialties such as:
- Jersey Margherita, a new classic improving on Neapolitan tradition
- Meatball Pizza, the first time Richer has shared the recipe for Razza’s legendary meatballs
- Project Hazelnut, pairing the rich flavor of the nuts with honey and mozzarella
- Santo, topped with caramelized fennel sausage and drizzled with chile oil
- Pumpkin Pie, a cold-weather pie with roasted pumpkin, ricotta salata, and caramelized onions
- And many more inventive and seasonal pizzas, from Funghi (mushroom) and Montagna (arugula and speck) to Bianca (white pizza) and Rossa (vegan tomato pie)
Suited to beginning home bakers and professionals alike, these crusts begin with store-bought yeast as well as sourdough starter. Richer shows how to achieve top results in ordinary home ovens as well as high-temperature ovens such as the Ooni and Roccbox, and even wood-fired outdoor pizza ovens.
The Joy of Pizza is rich with step-by-step photography, links to instructional videos, and portraits of every pizza before and after it meets the heat of the oven—so you’ll know exactly what to do to create superior results.
The ingredients are simple. The methods are straightforward. And the results are deliriously delicious.