All pizza questions answered: everything you wanted to know about making pizza (Food & Drink)

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Rocco Cagliostro from the restaurant of the same name in Genk, Marc Steyfkens from restaurant Bocca Nera in Hasselt and Tania Lombardi from pizzeria Da Fausto in Genk answer the most frequently asked questions about pizza.

1. Can you roll out pizza dough with the rolling pin?

“Absolutely not! Although many inexperienced pizza bakers have that tendency,” sighs Rocco Cagliostro of the restaurant of the same name in Genk. “With a rolling pin you push all the air out of the dough, so that you get a kind of flat bottom. A bit like a pancake. However, there should be air bubbles in the dough. If you were to cut the pizza with scissors, you should see those air cavities.”

They also think the same at pizzeria Da Fausto in Genk. “It’s best to roll out a pizza by hand, then it also gets a nice border”, reveals Tania Lombardi.

(read more below the photos)

© Luc Daelemans

© Luc Daelemans

2. Which passata do you use best?

“It’s best to shop in Italian specialty stores, such as Raineri in Genk,” Marc Steyfkens of restaurant Bocca Nera shares his address. “I always opt for the Mutti brand, because I crush those canned San Marzano tomatoes by hand. Preferably do not use a mixer.”

Rocco Cagliostro also recommends peeled tomatoes that you crush by hand. “If you do want to use the mixer, choose a low setting, so that the substance does not become too watery. The passata must remain concentrated, pulp must remain. If the big pieces are out, that’s more than enough. I prefer to put on a glove and then squeeze the tomatoes finely by hand. Then add 1 teaspoon of salt per 400 grams of peeled tomatoes, a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and two to three basil leaves. It is best not to put oregano in the sauce, because then it will turn sour very quickly.”

© Luc Daelemans

3. Which cheese is ideal for a pizza base?

“Don’t use the regular mozzarella, too much starch has been added to it, which makes it yellow or even black during baking. you use best fior di latte”, tips Genkenaar Cagliostro. “That type of mozzarella is much creamier and of higher quality. This way the mozzarella remains nice and white after baking, like on the pizzas in Italy. Fellow pizza bakers Lombardi and Steyfkens also invariably choose fior di latte.

© Luc Daelemans

4. In what order should you put the pizza?

“First you smooth out the dough. Then top with sauce, mozzarella, basil leaves and any herbs. Only then do you add other ingredients, such as scampi for example. Then you finish with olive oil and possibly oregano”, explains Cagliostro.

© Luc Daelemans

5. Can you also bake a tasty pizza in a regular oven?

“That certainly works, although the real ones do use a wood oven with a flame,” explains Rocco Cagliostro. “Pizza needs a high temperature, so there is only a short baking time. In a normal kitchen oven, that flame and the associated heat are not there, which means that the baking time is also longer. This often makes the pizza browner and crispier. In total, a pizza can stand in a regular oven for about 7 to 10 minutes. That is much less in a pizza oven.”

“I know a good trick to keep the ingredients fresh with a longer baking time,” the Genkenaar reveals. “First put the dough in the oven for about 3 minutes and then top the pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella and everything you want on it. That way everything stays fresh. Then you put the topped pizza in the oven for another 4 minutes.”

Marc Steyfkens of Bocca Nera also has a good tip up his sleeve. “A must for at home is the Roccbox from the Gozney brand. A small oven for 1 pizza that goes up to 350 degrees. If you put the pizza in there for 10 minutes, you also get a nice result.”

© Luc Daelemans

6. How hot should your kitchen oven be when making your own pizza?

“Normally you choose 250 degrees with a normal oven, because that is the maximum with most models,” explains Rocco Cagliostro. “But if it can go higher, then you should do it. A real pizza oven even reaches a temperature of 350 to 400 degrees. This high temperature creates a shock effect: the pizza is ready quickly and turns a nice golden brown. If the pizza is left in the oven for too long, it will become tough and dark.”

7. Should I use a pizza stone to bake my pizza at home in the oven?

Genkenaar Rocco Cagliostro certainly recommends a pizza stone. “When I make pizzas at home, I also use one of these. It is not yet a flame, but the stone also gets very hot and that speeds up the baking time. Then the pizza only needs five minutes in the oven.”

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Don’t panic if you don’t have a pizza stone at home, Marc Steyfkens of Bocca Nera has another good tip. “Use a baking tray in the oven, not a wire rack. It is best to preheat the baking tray well. If you put the pizza on it, it will immediately scorch from the heat.”

8. Is ready-made dough just as good as homemade dough?

“Certainly not, I have already tested many products myself. I also compared pre-baked and handmade dough. There is a big difference in taste and structure. There is no heart and soul in such a pre-baked pizza,” says Cagliostro.

© Luc Daelemans

9. Why is pineapple on pizza sacrilege?

gosh, that is sensitive, but I think it is possible,” says Tania Lombardi of Da Fausto in Genk. “In Italy they make so many crazy combinations with pizza. There is also one with nuts, pear and gorgonzola. It also contains fruit, so why not pineapple?”

Marc Steyfkens of Bocca Nera disagrees. “Pineapple is a no go, really awful. A pizza has only a few ingredients, so the products must also be of the best quality. This keeps the dish beautiful in all its simplicity.”

© BELGAIMAGE

10. Why is there moisture in my pizza after baking?

“If you don’t put the vegetables and other garnishes on the pizza until 2 to 3 minutes before the end of the baking time and then put it back in the oven, everything will stay fresh and crispy”, Rocco Cagliostro shares his tip. “The same goes for the mozzarella, so it doesn’t lose too much moisture. You also have to be careful with ‘overinvesting’ to prevent moisture. If you put the pizza too full, it will also not be digestible.”

According to Marc Steyfkens, a little moisture is not a disaster. “A typical Neapolitan pizza always has some moisture in the middle, because there is a lot of water in the dough. That is why the temperature of the oven must also be sufficiently high.”

Rocco Cagliostro of the restaurant of the same name in Genk shares his recipe.

Rocco Cagliostro of the restaurant of the same name in Genk shares his recipe. — © Luc Daelemans

This is how you make delicious dough according to pizza baker Rocco Cagliostro

Dough 4 people: 4 dough balls of 250 grams: 1 dough ball pizza per person that then becomes 1 pizza

Ingredients

• 1 kg of flour from an Italian brand, type 00. “With the flour, you have to look at the w-value on the packaging. It can vary from 180 to 400”, explains Cagliostro. “The lower the w-value, the less water you have to use and vice versa. For example, with a w-value of 400 you should use 60 cl of water.”

• 55 to 60 cl of water, depending on the w-value of the flour

• 2 to 3 grams of fresh yeast

• 25 to 30 grams of salt depending on whether you like to eat salted food or not

• 1 to 1.5 cl extra virgin olive oil

© Luc Daelemans

This is how you get started

• Use a dough mixer. “If you don’t have a dough mixer at home, you can also work with a large bowl and apply the same method,” Cagliostro adds. “It also works on your counter if you make a well in the dough, but then everything is covered with flour. That is less convenient”, the Genk pizza baker winks. “Note: in videos on the internet you sometimes see that people add an egg to the dough, but that is absolutely not allowed.”

• First add the water, then the yeast and then you can start mixing. Then add 500 grams of flour. Let the dough mixer knead for 2 to 3 minutes. Then you can add the salt and the other half of the flour. That has to be kneaded again for 2 to 3 minutes and then you can add the olive oil.

• Then let the dough rest for half an hour. Then make 4 balls of 250 grams. Cover with cling film and put the dough in the fridge overnight (12-18 hours).

• You can take the dough out of the fridge three hours before use. A dough ball is then good for a pizza of about 30 cm in diameter.

© Luc Daelemans

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