A PIZZA MAKING TUTORIAL

Hello pizza fans.

At least I hope you are a pizza fan because I have devoted this entire week to pizza! But really, who doesn’t like pizza?

First I shared with you my new kitchen appliance, the Breville Crispy Crust Pizza Maker, then I gave you a tutorial on the preparation of Olive Oil Pizza Dough. And today, just for good measure, I thought I’d give you a pizza making tutorial. After this I promise we will move on to a whole new subject!

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So, to teach you how to make homemade pizza, there is no better instructor than my friend Brenda. She is the person every pizza lover in Lake Arrowhead would love to know. That’s because she has her own wood-fired pizza oven right in her kitchen. And, having perfected the craft over the past 10 years, she also makes some of the very best pizza on the planet.

A PIZZA MAKING TUTORIAL | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Today she has invited you into her kitchen to see how it’s done. Brenda makes her own wonderful pizza dough, from scratch of course, in much the same way I do. As you can see here, her dough is very, very soft.

A PIZZA MAKING TUTORIAL | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Brenda uses a wooden peel when preparing her pizzas. If you are going to be a serious pizza maker you will need one too. In fact, it helps to own both a wooden peel on which to assemble the pizza, and a metal peel to remove the pizza from the oven. To get started she dusts the peel with flour.

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This is what a metal peel looks like. The two small shakers (from World Market) contain all-purpose flour in one, semolina flour in the other. They make dusting the peel quick and easy.

A PIZZA MAKING TUTORIAL | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

To prepare the pizza crust Brenda first taps the dough with her fingertips to begin forming a circle of dough. She taps and presses the dough into the desired size and thickness. Then she carefully lifts and stretches the dough, also with her fingertips.

A PIZZA MAKING TUTORIAL | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comA PIZZA MAKING TUTORIAL | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comA PIZZA MAKING TUTORIAL | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comA PIZZA MAKING TUTORIAL | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Brenda always has a myriad of toppings at the ready, allowing her to make many varieties of pizzas.  Some of the toppings are raw, others she sautes or roasts first.  On this particular day she had prepared both raw and roasted zucchini. She also had raw onions and caramelized onions.  There were roasted red peppers and raw red peppers, sun dried tomatoes and raw tomatoes. There was sauteed shallots, kalamata olives, crimini and shiitake mushrooms, fresh basil, parsley and thyme. And she had also prepared fresh tomato sauce as well as a pesto sauce.

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On another occasion she added artichokes, lemon and truffle oil and the customary red pepper flakes to her pizza toppings.

A PIZZA MAKING TUTORIAL | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

And on yet another occasion I snapped this photo where she was using roasted butternut squash and roasted potatoes. Really, the skies the limit as far as pizza toppings go. Since Brenda is a vegetarian, you won’t find pepperoni or sausage on her pizzas. However, she often makes a pizza with shrimp that I adore!

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Brenda also uses a variety of cheeses on her pizzas. Here she has mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan cheese at the ready…

A PIZZA MAKING TUTORIAL | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

as well as fresh mozzarella cheese. She often adds gorgonzola or blue cheese to her pizza repertoire, which is out of this world when paired on a pizza with roasted pears and hazelnuts!

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Here is how she assembled one delicious pizza. First a thin layer of tomato sauce is added. Keep in mind however that a tomato based sauce is not always necessary. I love the so-called “white” pizzas and often simply use garlic or shallots, sauteed in olive oil as my pizza sauce.

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Brenda then topped the pizza with fresh ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, always in moderation. Her pizzas, like those you find in Italy, are never swimming in cheese.

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Then she slides the pizza off the peel and into her wood-fired pizza oven. It goes directly onto the floor of the oven. For those of us not lucky enough to own a wood-fired pizza oven, we would place our pizza dough onto a pizza stone that had been preheated to 500º F in our conventional oven.

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Because of the high heat generated by the pizza oven, these pizzas cook in a matter of a couple of minutes.  She gives the pizza a quick turn to insure even cooking. She also uses a special poker to pop some of the bubbles coming up in the dough.

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After 2 or 3 minutes the pizza comes out of the oven, bubbling hot.

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Next she uses kitchen shears to dress the pizza with fresh basil.

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A light sprinkle of parmigiano reggiano cheese is grated using a micro plane, directly onto the hot pizza. Brenda also adds a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of salt.

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The pizza is cut and then handed out to her hungry and very lucky dinner guests.

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Next she made my favorite pizza. The sauce is made by sauteing shallots and garlic in olive oil. A little white wine is added along with a dab of butter, a sprinkle of fresh thyme and a pinch of red pepper flakes. She adds raw shrimp, cut down the middle lengthwise and mozzarella cheese. After the pizza comes out of the oven she dusts it with a bit of sea salt, parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. This is my pizza nirvana!

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On the other hand Brenda makes this simple fresh bell pepper and onion pizza for my husband. We have taken to calling it the “Brad Becker Special”.

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So there you have it: A PIZZA MAKING TUTORIAL

Are you hungry yet? What is your favorite type of pizza?

Thanks for dropping in!  Do please leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you!

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All opinions expressed in this post are my own. Unless otherwise credited, all photos are the original property of Celia Becker @ www.AfterOrangeCounty.com and may not be reproduced without specific permission.

Comments

  • Nate

    Brenda’s pizza really is some of the best ever! Another great idea I recently picked up is to pre-roast vegetables before using them as toppings. My whole family loves a veggie pizza I make using roasted sliced mushrooms, eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini. The pre-roasting gives the vegetables an extra nutty rich flavor. This is especially helpful when making pizza in a conventional oven.

  • Yes, I agree 100%. I love roasted veggies on my pizza and Brenda does too.

  • Xenia

    I am NOT tired of your pizza making blog posts. DO keep it up!

  • Ah, thanks so much Xenia. That is very nice to hear.

  • Heather O’Brien

    Thank you for all of the great sauce and topping ideas! We have been in a pizza margarita rut lately. My husband usually bakes our pizzas right on the BBQ when the weather is nice. Just 2 or 3 minutes on each side, add the toppings, and back in for a few more to melt the cheese. Plus we can fit 8 individual pizzas all at the same time on the BBQ. Maybe your husband would enjoy doing the same!

  • Hi Heather. I have made flat bread many times on the BBQ because I like the lines it creates on the dough when I place it right on the grill. Do you use a pizza stone on the grill for your pizza? I find it hard to regulate the heat on my BBQ so I’m afraid it would cook unevenly. You must have a super-dooper grill! I’ll be right over…

  • Heather O’Brien

    We put our pizzas directly on the grill and fortunately our classic Weber gas BBQ does cook very evenly. My husband loves it and won’t part with it for anything, even when I requested that we replace it with a shiny new stainless steel BBQ. We would love to have you over when we are done renovating our little Bavarian mountain cottage!

  • Ah, that explains it. I think I need a Weber Grill! Your Bavarian cottage sounds sooo charming!