It’s Amore! Make Great Homemade Pizza Pies in your Own Back Yard
I love homemade pizza. It has been a favorite of mine since my mother made pizza for my birthday parties. I’ve been experimenting with how to make pizza since I began cooking. I started out cooking pizza in the oven, and as I became more adventurous, I tackled grilled pizza.
The experience of sharing a pizza with family and friends makes the pizza taste better. Once I felt more confident with my pizza-making skills, I made pizza with my niece when she came to visit. She loved to eat the cheese and pepperoni before I could get the ingredients on the pizza. I’m sure all of you have great pizza story to share.
I have had my share of challenges when making pizza in the oven and on the grill. They include the dough not stretching, the dough sticking to the peel as I tried to load it into the oven or onto the grill, the dough burning around the edges while the middle remains raw, the bottom of the pizza burning, the cheese and toppings burning, too many toppings, and there are many others. I even had a pizza slide off the peel while carrying it into the house from the grill! My ability to make a pizza has improved, but I’m always looking for ways to make the perfect pie.
Making Homemade Pizza
One of the keys to the ultimate pizza is the crust. If you have a favorite pizza parlor, they probably make a great crust to accompany your favorite toppings. The fixings on your pizza are important, but I think a successful pizza starts with a crispy crust. To achieve that crispy crust, you need a super-hot oven or grill. Unfortunately, most ovens and grills don’t get hot enough. In my experience, some grills will get hot enough to cook a pizza, but the heat is uneven.
I may have found the solution to make the ultimate pizza. Let me introduce you to the OONI Pizza Oven company. OONI makes pizza ovens that achieve the high and even heat required to make a crispy crust, melt the cheese, and unite the toppings.
OONI’s newest Pizza Oven is the Karu 16 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven. The oven comes with a cooking area that is large enough to cook a 16-inch pizza, meats, and more on the 17-inch-wide and 15mm thick cordierite baking stone. The oven heats up quickly and reaches 900 degrees in 15 minutes. The high temperature is ideal for making pizza.
The Karu 16 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven is designed so you can create the perfect pizza. In addition to the super-high heat required to develop the crispy crust that everyone loves, the oven has a glass drop-down door with integrated ViewFlame™ technology for cleaner, clearer glass, so you can keep an eye on what’s cooking. The drop-down door retains heat and allows easy access to your food. The ambient oven temperature can be monitored with OONI’s mounted thermometer. The built-in ceiling vent and chimney baffle allow for ultimate flame and airflow control. The smart fuel tray design boosts airflow for fuel efficiency. The extra-large fuel hatch makes it easy to add addition wood or charcoal. The oven is fully insulated for better heat retention and temperature control. The powder-coated carbon steel shell is temperature- and weather-resistant. The oven can be fired up with wood, charcoal, or gas (separate attachment) to cook delicious pizzas, roasted meats, sauteed veggies, and more.
I have tried various pizza dough recipes but figured I should try OONI’s recipe with their oven. The recipe was easy to follow, and it worked. The dough was easy to stretch and shape. If you are a rookie pizza maker, check out the how-to videos on OONI’s website.
OONI recommends seasoning the oven prior to its first use. The OONI only took 15 minutes to heat up and reach 900 degrees. I assembled my pizza while the oven heated up.
The first pizza I prepared was the margherita pizza. Once the dough was stretched and shaped, I added the tomato sauce and the mozzarella. I planned to add the basil after cooking so it would not burn.
I usual flour the peel before loading the dough with toppings. One cool trick I learned is to try and slide the dough on the peel before adding the toppings to ensure it will not stick. You don’t want the pizza sticking to the peel when you are trying to slide the pizza into the oven.
I cooked the pizza for about 60 seconds, and then rotated it and cooked an additional 60 seconds. I could not believe how fast the pizza cooked. The edges of the pizza were crusty, the cheese melted, and the sauce was warm.
I topped the pizza with fresh basil and sliced it up. The crust was crispy and cooked through. I enjoyed the contrast of the crispy crust and the melted cheese and fresh tomato sauce. The basil provided a blast of freshness. I made a second margherita pizza with prosciutto as well as a few pepperoni pizzas.
One additional tip based on my experience: don’t use large or thick pieces of cheese. They don’t melt as easily and may inhibit the cooking of the top of the dough. I would recommend a soft or shredded cheese.
If you have been searching for the ultimate homemade pizza, you might find it right in your own OONI pizza oven!
Pizza Making Tips
- Plan ahead if you are making your own dough.
- Flour the work surface and your hands before kneading or shaping the dough.
- Flour the peel so the dough doesn’t stick when trying to slide the pizza into the oven.
- Keep the toppings light so the dough cooks evenly. If you overload the pizza with toppings the dough may burn while the toppings finish cooking.
- Make sure toppings like sausage, chicken, and even some types of veggies are cooked before putting them on your pizza. Leftovers make great pizza toppings.
- Allow the oven heat up to the ideal cooking temperature before placing the pizza in the oven.
- Rotate the pizza halfway through to ensure even cooking.
- Add fresh herbs at the end so they do not burn.