Viva la Pizza: The tool box for pizza bakers

2020-05-07 10:04:10

Pizza is the food that is adored by many. So simple to make, yet so delicious and irresistible. Thin crust, garnished with Italian pepperoni, and topped with melted cheese is only one of the many variations of pizza known to people. Pizza is probably among the dishes that have been made at least once in almost every household around the world. Homemade pizza is just as fun to make as it is to eat – everyone should experience the enjoyment of it. What is more, making pizza at home will not only make one happier but in a long term, it also ends up being easier on the pocketbook. And if you want to go one step further and learn how to make a proper Italian pizza, you must be equipped with the right set of tools in order to do so. Below we have gathered a list of the most essential tools that can make it easier to make a seriously delicious pizza in the comfort of your own home.

The essential tools
If you are thinking of making homemade pizza more than once, we strongly recommend that you consider purchasing rather high-quality kitchen tools as they tend to be more durable and thus will last longer than their cheaper plastic equivalents. Of course, most of the products listed below can find many other applications in your kitchen and can be easily applied for the making of other recipes as well. Below we have categorized the tools based on their purpose throughout the different stages of making a pizza, i.e. what you will need to make the dough with, or when you are about to bake the pizza and serve it once it is ready. 

Pizza dough
Kitchen scale
A kitchen scale is an essential tool when it comes to the making of pizza dough. Professional cooks have years of experience and often might not need these as they are used to measuring quantities by eye. However, for a beginner weighing optimally the flour quantity, for instance, is crucial for the final result. This tool can be especially appreciated if you decide to make a dough out of several different types of flour. Another reason to use a kitchen scale is the fact that the process of fermentation, once the dough is mixed, is quite unpredictable. Therefore it is very important to measure all ingredients precisely before adding them together in order to guarantee that you will make a soft and consistent dough.

Mixing the dough by hand is great, yet it is more convenient when making smaller batches of dough. Doing this process by hand is also quite messy as the dough is sticky at first and it might be harder to remove residue from your fingers or the surface where you mixed it. Investing in a mixer is a great idea for many reasons as it will not only mix anything at the snap of your fingers but you will save yourself the mess that would have occurred otherwise. To be useful on this occasion, the mixer must have a plastic dough blade or a metal hook, since the dough gets heavier throughout its formation and it would be difficult for the food processor or mixer to knead it with any other attachment. In addition, a mixer is a multi-purpose tool that can be quite handy in the making of other recipes as well.

Rolling Pin
This is arguably one of the most essential tools in the process of making a delicious pizza with a thin crust. Once the dough has rested enough, it should be very elastic and easy to stretch. In order to do this easily while avoiding any tearing of the dough, professional pizza makers can be often seen using a rolling pin that helps get the pizza base into the preferred size and thickness. Rolling pins vary in size and in the material, they could be made of, and professional cooks often have several different ones depending on the dough areas, shape and size they want to work on. However, you can easily get things done with the use of only one rolling pin without even incorporating any special rolling techniques.

Dough Scrapers 
These tools are rather optional and not so much essential as they can easily be replaced by knives. However, if you want to follow every step of a real pizza maker routine, then you can add these to your tool box. Dough scrapers, as suggested by the name, are used for removing the ready pizza dough from the counter or the mixing bowl where it was processed. Once the dough is removed, you can use the scrapers to cut it and shape it into portions. As any other tool, this one can be also used for so much more than pizza. It is also great for moving chopped vegetables or herbs from the wooden board to a pan on the stove, for example. There are many variations of bench scrapers on the market, some are plastic and with round edges, others are made from stainless steel and have a much sharper edged. We recommend that the latter be used to prevent bacteria to be spread around or hide on the surface of the tool.

Instant Thermometer
As a general rule, when you dissolve yeast in water, the temperature of the liquid must be warm but not too hot because it will kill the yeast which will, later on, prevent the dough to rise. An instant thermometer can show you just the right temperature of the water before you place the little cube of yeast. According to manufacturers, it is best to use water of a temperature between 105 ⁰F and 110 ⁰F (40 ⁰C – 45 ⁰C) for active dry yeast. Such thermometer can be also used when making meat and poultry for checking instant temperature readings while it is being cooked.

Once you have finished shaping your pizza dough, it is finally time for the fun part of the pizza-making process. Before placing all of your favorite toppings, you will have to spread a layer of tomato sauce or tomato paste onto the dough. The best way to do this is with the help of a ladle as you can scoop just the right amount and distribute it evenly over the surface.

Cheese is a classic and probably one of the most popular pizza ingredients. It not only holds your pizza topping together and on to the base but it also gives a sensational feeling to one’s taste buds, especially when melted. This is why a box grater is a must-have tool for shaving hard Italian cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino over a pizza.

The best pizza is baked in a professional oven that is heated by wood or coal and reaches temperatures of around 900 ⁰F to 1000 ⁰F (480 ⁰C – 540 ⁰C), which a normal oven used in a household would not be able to. Of course, it is understandable that fitting such a large oven in a tiny kitchen is not really realistic, yet baking a pizza like a pro at home is not so much impossible. To achieve similar results, you can use things such as pizza stones, for example, that will not only heat up faster and maintain a very high temperature throughout the baking but will also absorb the moisture and will make your crust far better.

Steel baking pans
If you cannot be bothered to go shopping specifically for pizza stones but you still want to make a delicious pizza, you can also use baking pans. These come along with almost every oven and can serve as a great alternative when it comes to baking a pizza with a crispy and slightly charred crust. The latter can be achieved quickly since the steel heats up in almost no time. The size of these pans will also allow you to make large quantities of pizza if you are having some friends over for dinner or hosting a party with a big crowd.

Pizza peel
Wooden pizza peels are necessary tools for every pizzeria as they help the pizza maker transfer the pizza in the oven and then remove it easily without getting burned. Pizza peels with large handles are not really functional in home conditions, which is why we recommend going for the short-handled paddles. Although wood is a commonly used material for the production of these tools, they can also be found in lightweight aluminum, non-stick polymer or bamboo. A quick tip if you are using anything else but wooden pizza peel is to sprinkle the paddle with corn flour so that the pizza does not stick on to it when transferring it to the oven, and slides easily once you remove it. 

Pizza wheel/Pizza cutter
Hot from the oven, the pizza is now ready to be served and eaten within minutes. The best way to cut the pizza into slices is with the help of a pizza cutter. This tool can come in different shapes and sizes, from a small pizza wheel to a large rocker cutter. The latter is intended rather for commercial pizzerias, whereas many homes are using the traditional pizza wheel. The sharp blades of any cutter will provide you with the cleanest cut while gliding with ease through the dough and the layers of toppings and cheese. These tools can be also used for cutting any other flat foods such as pans of brownies, cookie bars or fruit tarts with a continuous motion.

Pizza cutting guides
The pizza cutting guides are ideal for those who are perfectionists and like to pay attention even to the smallest details. This tool will ensure that your pizza will be sliced in even slices that are all of the same size. The small channels in-between the guide facilitate the portioning and make slicing pizza so easy that even a child could do it.

Pizza table stand
If you are having your friends over and want to impress them with your cooking skills, you might as well think about the presentation of your pizza. A pizza table stand is a great tool that will help you to easily serve your delicious creation, especially if it is a large one. Putting your pizza on a stand will also prevent your guests from burning their fingers by accidentally touching the hot baking pan or plate. This tool is also very useful in terms of space-saving for a not so large table. 

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