We’ll take you through our recipe for typical Italian style thin crispy pizza in this article.
You’ll learn how to construct and manage a wood fire in a classic brick pizza oven so you can consistently bake beautiful pizzas.
But don’t worry if you don’t have access to a conventional wood-fired oven; I’ll walk you through several alternative techniques for making crispy, salty, chewy, melty great Italian style pizza in your own BBQ or grill (or even oven!)
- What you’ll need
- Making your pizza bases
- Building your pizza oven fire
- Making your pizzas
- Cooking your pizza
- What if I don’t have a wood fired pizza oven?
- What flour do you use in a wood fired pizza oven?
- What temperature should you cook pizza in a wood-fired oven?
- Do you close the door on a wood fired pizza oven?
- What kind of oil do you use for wood-fired pizza?
- What blend of flour is best for pizza?
- What is the best dusting flour for pizza?
- What should the floor of a pizza oven be made of?
What you’ll need
- For the greatest results, use a classic wood-burning pizza oven; alternatively, use a BBQ capable of hot and quick cooking together with a pizza stone.
- small sticks of hardwood kindling
- a charcoal chimney starter (optional)
- heat beads or charcoal (optional)
- various sized hardwood sticks for building and maintaining your fire
- pizza foundation components listed below, plus toppings of your choosing
- some eco fire starters and matches or lighter
- a fire poker
- pizza paddle
- Welding or heat-resistant gloves are advised.
- a fire resistant brush
Given that this is a recipe for wood-fired pizza, it stands to reason that you will need a wood-fired oven!
While this is your best option, a more portable gas or wood pellet fueled oven may provide results that are almost as nice. We love Ooni Pizza ovens because they can cook at the same temperature as a wood-fired oven at a fraction of the expense.
Making your pizza bases
If you’re going to spend the time cooking pizza in a wood fired oven, I strongly suggest preparing your own pizza bases.
We’ll go over everything you need to know to produce a wonderful dough in the next part, so if you only want to learn how to set up and regulate the fire in your oven, skip ahead.
Choosing the right flour for your dough
Type 00 flour is the best flour to use for pizza dough. Don’t worry, you can get this flour at most stores. So, what exactly is 00 flour, and why is it the finest flour for pizza dough?
The 00 denotes the texture of the flour; Italian flours are classed by numbers based on how finely they are ground, ranging from the coarsest milled tipo 2 to the finest 00.
So why is 00 the best for pizza?
Without getting too technical, 00 flour has little protein, little carbohydrate, and little gluten. Because of its low gluten level, it is elastic and does not bounce back when formed into pizza bases, making it soft and ideal for pasta and pizza.
It also helps prevent it tearing.
Using 00 flour will also help you create a crispy foundation with a little chewiness without feeling like rubber, and when cooked over a wood fire with high heat, youll get that beautiful crust with its puffy tiny bubbles typically associated with Italian wood-fired pizza.
Making your dough
Youll need the following:
- 4 cups of that 00 flour
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
- 2 1/2 cups of lukewarm water
This will make you around 8 medium sized pizzas.
In a large mixing basin, combine the flour and salt, then form a well in the middle to add the wet ingredients.
Tradition holds that you mix it directly on a work bench by piling the flour, forming a well, and gently integrating the water, however mixing it in a bowl is simpler to clean up.
In a separate jug, combine the water, sugar, oil, and yeast and let aside for 5 minutes, or until it begins to bubble or froth.
Slowly fold in the water mixture and knead for at least 5-7 minutes, or until you have a smooth, silky, elastic dough. If you like, you may use a breadmaker.
Lightly grease a large mixing bowl and lay the dough inside. Cover with a clean towel and let aside for an hour, or until about doubled in size.
Knocking back the dough
Place the dough on a floured work area and knead it for a few minutes to remove some of the air.
Divide the dough into 8 equal balls for the bases and set aside for another hour until ready to cook. If you won’t be cooking for a long, you may refrigerate or freeze the dough balls at this point.
Simply cover or wrap them in cling wrap and place them in the fridge to cool. Remove them 30 minutes before you want to use them. If you wish to complete this step ahead of time, place them in the fridge overnight.
Building your pizza oven fire
A good wood-fired pizza oven can cook a pizza in a matter of minutes.
A ceramic pizza oven retains heat the best, although any dome-style pizza oven with sufficient bricks or tiles as a foundation would suffice.
To get your pizza to cook in the time it takes to pull a beer out of the fridge, open it, and walk back to check on it (yes, this is an exact measure of time that I can speak to from experience), the oven should be set to 700F or higher.
The easiest approach to achieve such temperatures is to establish a strong coal bank and use hardwood splits to keep the fire blazing in your pizza oven during the cook.
Another post on the best wood to use in your pizza oven can be found here.
You can achieve this a couple of different ways:
- Start a complete chimney of lump charcoal using a charcoal chimney, then maintain with hardwood splits as described in point 6 below.
- Make your own coal base by following the guidelines below.
Follow these steps to build a charcoal base:
- Set up a foundation layer of hardwood kindling approximately 1 thick in the centre of your pizza oven, running 3-4 sticks parallel to each other and spacing them a couple of inches apart.
- Place a couple of eco-friendly firelighters between your kindling sticks. Don’t use liquid or white plastic-looking firestarters since they will leave an unpleasant chemical flavor in the base of your pizza oven and you’ll be cooking right on top of it.
- Place another layer of kindling perpendicular to the previous layer, 3-4 sticks with the same spacing as the first layer, on top of your foundation layer.
- Continue to construct the structure in the same manner, 3-4 stories high.
- Use a long match or butane stove top lighter to ignite your firelighters. This construction offers sufficient airflow to your fire and clean, rapid combustion.
- 4 split (5 or so thick) and burn until a large coal foundation forms in the middle of your pizza oven. You may then keep the fire going with medium-sized bits of fuel. This procedure should take about an hour from start to finish, but it is well worth the time.Once the kindling is well alight, begin with some smaller splits of hardwood firewood (oak is fine), gradually increasing the size until 1 inch is reached.
- Once you’ve got a flaming hot coal bank, use a long-handled poker to push it all to one side of the pizza oven (I also wear welding gloves, which I learnt the hard way when I singed the hair off my arm the first time!). Building near the middle ensures that your fire bricks become nice and hot, allowing your pizza’s foundation to cook and crisp up perfectly. When you push your coal base to the side, flames will roll up and over the top of your oven, providing heat from the side and top to precisely cook your pizza, melting the cheese swiftly and ensuring the base does not burn while your cheese is not melted.
Throughout this procedure, make sure your chimney stack’s vents are completely open for optimal airflow and a hot, clean burn.
If your pizza oven has a door, open the vents if you wish to use it, but be careful not to suffocate the fire. I either leave my door entirely closed or ajar halfway open.
Making your pizzas
A pizza is traditionally stretched by hand, working it carefully with your fingers, pressing outwards, leaving the corners slightly higher than the center.
Using 00 flour will let you to stretch your foundation out nice and thin without it tearing. It will inflate up and bubble somewhat when cooked, so it will not be as thin as you stretch it.
This video explains the process nicely.
If you’re having trouble, don’t be afraid to use a rolling pin (or a wine bottle if you can’t locate one!) Don’t worry if your foundation isn’t precisely round; it just adds to the charm!
After you’ve spread out your foundation, transfer it to your pizza paddle.
Use some semolina flour on your paddle before transferring the dough. The bigger semolina grains function almost like ball bearings, allowing you to quickly transfer your pizza to the pizza oven without it sticking to the pizza paddle.
Add your toppings once it’s on your paddle. To make a tomato sauce foundation, just use store-bought passata, thinly distributed tomato paste, or pure canned tomatoes mixed until smooth.
If you’re adding ingredients that need to be cooked through, like chicken or bacon, make sure they’re pre-cooked.
The pizza will only be in the oven for a few minutes, which is insufficient time to guarantee it is fully cooked.
I also have a rule in my home about toppings, much to the chagrin of the youngsters next door: no more than four.
You don’t want to load on too many toppings since the foundation may get soggy, so less is better in this case.
If you use high-quality toppings, which you should, the tastes will be fantastic. This isn’t Domino’s, but rather genuine Italian fare.
After you’ve finished your toppings, it’s time to add the cheese. For my pizzas, I use cherry bocconcini. It tastes extremely similar to authentic buffalo mozzarella and comes in cherry-sized balls that I break in half and distribute on my pizza.
If you want a true Italian-style pizza, as with other toppings, less is more. I’m not the dairy police, so you may use any kind of cheese you want. Simply avoid using burger cheese pieces.
Cooking your pizza
It’s time to cook your cheesy disc of goodness now that your pizza oven has reached the warmth of the sun’s surface.
In addition, since I am a sucker for any BBQ technology I can get my hands on, I purchased a cheap infrared thermometer gun to verify the temperature of the oven where I want to put my pizza.
ThermoWorks sells a great IR gun, or you can get one on Amazon for a low price. They are useful for measuring the temperature in your oven, as well as your cat, children, fridge, automobile exhaust, and anything else within aiming reach. You already know you will.
Transfer your pizza to the oven using your paddle, being careful not to drop it, since this has happened to me and caused me to utter different four-letter obscenities, and slide it in one motion into the middle of the oven.
Now, most essential, pay close attention. The dough will crisp, color, and rise before your eyes, and the cheese will melt before your eyes.
It’s like to watching one of those timelapse films, but with a tasty payoff at the end.
Because all of the heat is coming from one side, half of your pizza will color and cook first, so use your pizza peel to flip the pizza around halfway through.
Releated The Best Pizza Peels you can buy
If your oven is sufficiently heated, this should only take 45 seconds to a minute and a half.
Depending on the size of your fire, you may spin your pizza 180 degrees or many 90 degrees to acquire the right color. I like slightly burned edges.
Using a paddle, move it out and onto a cutting board. I usually spread some shredded basil on top and then drizzle with a flavored oil, such as garlic or chile oil. Cut into desired pieces and serve.Once finished to your liking, use your pizza peel.
This style pairs very nicely with a fine Italian red wine. Thank you, buddy.
What if I don’t have a wood fired pizza oven?
You can still create wonderful pizzas at home using your hot and quick BBQ and a pizza stone, or even your oven.
Make the dough precisely as directed above, and get your BBQ as hot as possible. A kamado type BBQ, such as a Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe, is the next best thing to a wood fired pizza oven, since they can reach very high temperatures.
Use lump charcoal for fuel since it burns hotter and raises your temperatures. To add more flavor, add a piece or two of smoking wood, such as cherry.
Set your oven to the maximum fan-forced temperature it can tolerate. It is critical to warm your pizza stone in the BBQ or oven before placing the pizza on it.
In general, these ways take a little longer to cook, particularly the oven, which takes 12-15 minutes, but simply keep an eye on it and you’ll get fantastic results regardless of whatever method you choose.