As a result of all the experiments being made and all the methods discovered so far, nowadays, there are many different ways to make a quality pizza and they all vary according to one’s taste and preferences, and the pizza-making equipment available. Pizzas can be prepared fresh, frozen, and as portion-size slices. Many pizzerias offer various types of uncooked pizza to their customers. In this case the pizza is assembled at the pizzeria and sold out to pizza lovers to complete the making of the pizza at home. However, generally, all the crucial components involved in the preparation process are pizza crust, sauces, toppings, and kinds of cheese.
Pizza crust variations
The foundation of any well-made pizza is its crust. Pizza chefs have constantly been creating and expanding menu with different crust styles. Not only do crusts affect taste, texture, thickness, and topping selection, but they are also a crucial part of the overall presentation and appearance of pizza. There are plenty of variations, but the most preferred fresh and best tasting crusts are flatbread, delicious crispy classic thin-crusts, thick crusts, stuffed crusts for fans of extra cheese, and whole wheat crusts. These are made using different ingredients and techniques, and therefore have a different taste. Crusts are usually plain, but in some cases, they might be seasoned with garlic or herbs.
Flatbread pizzas are offered in the menu of many pizza restaurants and as compared to other pizza crust types, their preparation is much easier and takes less time. The bread is pre-made and pizza chefs don’t have to worry about tossing the dough and forming the crust. Flatbread crusts are airier and lighter, which makes them ideal for appetizers and personal-sized pizzas. Its shape is typically rectangular and they are thin and crispy and very delicious when combined with lighter toppings. The reason why this kind of pizza crust is one of the favourite options of health-conscious customers is that it isn’t as filling as other styles.
Classic thin crusts
The world can be separated into fans of thick crusts and fans of thin crusts. Classic thin crusts are made of a perfectly baked dough that allows pizza to be lighter and crispier. Its more rigid base makes them convenient for people who are on the go. Besides, classic thin crusts are ideal for those who want to stick to tradition – they are typical for the classic Neapolitan, New York-style, and St. Louis pizza.
Thick crusts are great for dipping into a whole host of sauces. With these, a more generous portion of toppings, cheese, and sauce could be added. Thick crusts of different pizzas have a different level of thickness. The most popular types of thick crusts are traditional pan pizza (which is the least thick of all the thick varieties), deep dish pizza, also known as Chicago-style deep dish, and Sicilian pizza which can be recognized by its thick rectangle-shaped crust.
What is special about stuffed pizza crusts is that they are more breadstick and have much deeper topping density, which allows adding even more flavours and goodies. Similarly to deep-dish pizzas, the layer of dough forms a bowl in which the next step is to add toppings and cheese. However, the main difference is that stuffed crusts are a bit more solid and smooth and the dough has a sweeter taste. Pizzas stuffed with an overflow of melted cheese are the most are the most mouth-watering of all pizza types. Apart from a perfect amount of cheese, these crusts are also stuffed to the edges with bacon, pepperoni, sausage, and vegetable fillings.
Whole-wheat crusts are a convenient creation for picky eaters, trying to stay healthy, but at the same time unwilling to remove pizza from their diet. They are made with whole-wheat flour and are normally thin and low in fat and calories. They offer an interesting doughy and chewy texture when bread flour is mixed into the dough. Furthermore, they contain complex carbohydrates, fibre, and essential nutrients. Whole-wheat crusts are a fairly healthy choice, especially when topped with fibre-filled vegetables, tomato sauce, and a small amount of cheese. This type of pizza also contains proteins, minerals and vitamins which are found in the whole-wheat crust and toppings such as meat. For the whole-wheat crust pizza to be well made, it is important to add enough water during the preparation process or otherwise, when the pizza is ready, it might lack moisture.
The types of sauces and toppings needed for a pizza preparation vary widely and depend on the specific kind of pizza. They are usually combined manually on standard or purpose-built pizza preparation tables. Once the dough is made, sauces are the next very important element that sets the base for the pizza. The classic sauces used for pizza are freshly made or pre-made tomato and marinara sauce. Even though the red sauce is the go-to, white sauce, and garlic sauce could also be delicious additions. Other flavourful alternatives around the world include barbecue, alfredo, pesto sauce, salsa, hummus, puree, and many others. When ordering or making a pizza, it is good to be informed about different options, the flavour they add to the pizza, and the toppings they are most often combined with for best results.
The best and most popular pizza sauce worldwide is fresh tomato sauce. It is really basic, simply made of quality puree tomatoes, seasoned with salt and pepper and maybe a few additional condiments like garlic, oregano, or a splash of balsamic or red wine vinegar. For example, San Marzanos tomatoes are great for sauce. Even though not every pizzeria is devoted to tomato purity and some places buy whatever tomatoes are around and use some sugar to mask the weaker ones, customers are still satisfied. Not being pre-cooked, pizza tomato sauce makes the pizza better-tasting by adding fresh and zippy tomato flavour, even after it has been baked in a hot oven.
Marinara sauce is used by some people as a substitute of the classic tomato sauce. After all, they are both Italian and delicious. While both marinara sauce and fresh tomato sauce are made of the same ingredients (tomatoes and seasoning), their consistency, flavour, and cooking process are significantly different. Marinara sauce is thick and can be spread more easily. It has a strong flavour, enhancing the taste, and tends to be salty. Unlike pizza tomato sauce, the tomatoes for marinara are cooked beforehand. It is usually used for pasta, but is also a delicious sauce alternative for pizza.
While some might disapprove, others would fancy some barbecue sauce on their pizza. It is much liked on pineapple, chicken, and dessert pizza. For veggie-lovers, it is also delicious when combined with sweet corns and cauliflower or any other favourite veggies. Some pizza chefs blend it with tomato sauce and spread the mixture on pizza to balance out the strong taste.
Alfredo is a sauce that all lovers of white sauce pizza should try on their pizza. It makes the base savoury and creamy and the taste reminds a bit of macaroni and cheese. Alfredo on pizza is great for dinner when topped with chicken, mushrooms, roasted garlic, or anything else that can be stirred into a pasta dish.
Pesto sauce is one of the simplest sauces to add on pizza, yet not less tasty or flavourful. Its taste is characterized by garlic, pecorino, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese, which are the main ingredients that pesto is usually made of. It is simply spread on pizza crust and then topped with a wide range of toppings, from mushrooms and sausages to summer tomatoes and cheese. Many like the combination of pesto and the cheese-like tofu.
Salsa is frequently used in Mexico for pizza and other meals. It works very well when combined with toppings such as chorizo, corn, beans, and other Latin-influenced ingredients. Those who want to stick to traditional pizza should definitely go for tomato-based salsa, or try a salsa verde made of tomatillos and cilantro.
Hummus is not only good on pita bread and sandwiches, but can also be a delicious addition to pizza. It is a healthy, high-protein, and nutrient-rich alternative of a sauce. There are a few diverse flavours – the classic one, mushroom, roasted garlic, roasted red pepper, etc. Topping the base with onions, olives, peppers, or feta cheese would make the perfect vegetarian pizza.
Puree is an excellent and nutrient-dense alternative of sauce. A good puree could be made of roasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or even pumpkin with some brown sugar. Some people like topping cauliflower with sweet potato, marinated kale, pumpkin seeds, and chicken pineapple sauce. It turns out pretty good and unforgettable.
There is almost no limit to the toppings that can be piled on a pizza. They normally start with a type of cheese or a blend of several cheeses, but from there pizza chefs can continue in many different ways depending on the style of pizza or the customers’ specific desires and preferences. Some of the most popular and universally loved pizza toppings are considered to be pepperoni, bacon, chicken, ham, prosciutto, and sausages (for meat lovers), as well as mushrooms, onions, peppers, black olives, spinach, peas, sweet corn, and fresh basil. Some exotic pizzas might also contain fruits and nuts such as pineapple, apples, fresh figs, bananas, and walnuts.
Cheese is a part of the toppings on pizza, but all the varieties it encompasses deserve to be paid special attention to. There are types of cheeses and dairy products specifically designed for use on pizza. The four main cheeses different pizzas are topped with include mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, and parmesan. Other kinds that are incorporated into pizza and taste incredible are gouda, goat, gruyere, and ricotta. There is also processed pizza cheese that has optimal qualities in browning, melting, stretchiness, as well as fat and moisture content and is cheaper and quicker to produce than real cheese. It is better to use fresh cheese, but for mass production some pizza cheeses are delivered frozen. When choosing which cheese to put on their pizza, pizza chefs take into account its elasticity, free oil, moisture, and baking temperature.
Mozzarella has long been the standard go-to cheese for an authentic Italian pizza and has also become the most popular choice for other pizza styles. It is the least processed cheese, so it offers maximum freshness and a light creamy texture. In most cases it is the foundation of every pizza cheese blend, and the only kind used in some styles such as Margherita. The factors pizza chefs need to consider when choosing the best type of mozzarella cheese for their pizza, is its moisture and the fat content. High-moisture mozzarella has a very short life and should be used right after it is made, but the sogginess its content creates in the middle of Neapolitan pie is a thing people really enjoy. Low-moisture mozzarella, on the other hand, lasts longer and makes purchasing and transportation easier. It has saltier and denser flavour and melts much more quickly. When it comes to fat content, mozzarella cheese can be divided into two: whole and skim. The higher the fat content, the more cheese melts and the better the appearance the pizza has.
Provolone is a semi-hard Italian cheese made from cow’s milk and originating from Southern Italy. Its taste greatly varies depending on the length of aging – from a sweet mild flavour with a creamier texture for shorter aging time to a specific piquant taste and dryer texture for longer aging time. Provolone cheese is classified into two forms: Provolone Dolce aged for 2-3 months and Provolone Piccante aged for a longer period. Each one of these makes an excellent topping for pizza when blended with mozzarella cheese.
Cheddar is sharp-tasting cheese that has not been commonly associated with pizza. However, it is a delicious addition and is often used as an ingredient in many pizza blends. What makes it good for pizza is that it has a small elasticity and doesn’t blister easily. Besides, choosing a sharper cheddar cheese with an orange tint adds colour to the pizza. Cheddar can typically be found on pizzas such as chicken bacon ranch, cheeseburger, and buffalo chicken.
Parmesan, also called Parmesan-Reggiano, is the best finishing touch to any pizza. It is great on pizzas filled with cheddar or mozzarella. It is important to remember that parmesan should only be shredded and sprinkled on its own or blended with other hard Italian cheeses over a freshly-baked pizza. It is not recommendable to mix it in the cheese blend for the filling, as due to its delicate flavour and dryness, parmesan shouldn’t be baked. It is rather garnish than a pizza topping.
Gouda is semi-hard Dutch mild yellow cheese made from cow’s milk. It is one of the most popular kinds of cheese in the world thanks to its unique butterfly flavour and smooth texture. Gouda is the top cheese for pizzas with pork or barbecue chicken. Both straight and smoked varieties are a good choice.
Goat cheese is derived from goat milk and is probably one of the earliest made dairy products. It doesn’t melt like other types of cheese, so when used for pizza, the best to do is simply put a few dollops on the surface of the pie. When baked in the oven it softens very nicely and pizza lovers are able to enjoy savoury creamy cheese. It tastes best when combined with caramelized onions, figs, and peppers.
Gruyere cheese is hard yellow cheese that originates from Switzerland. It has a complexity of flavours – from fruity and creamy when young to earthier and nuttier later on. It is advisable to be combined with mozzarella, as due to its high-water content, mozzarella burns easily, while gruyere takes more time to brown and gives a better appearance of the pizza. It is good on pizza with almost any toppings – for example, sliced potatoes, pepper, ham, and sausage.
Ricotta is Italian cheese produced from sheep, cow, goat or Italian water buffalo milk whey that is left over from the making of other kinds of cheese. Ricotta is mostly applied to white sauce pizzas, but it is not a bad decision to also add it to tomato sauce pizzas for some extra creaminess. It is normally blended with mozzarella, fontina, or gorgonzola cheese and topped with broccoli, chicken, and shrimp.
Pizza baking equipment
When it comes to baking, there are several varieties of high-tech pizza ovens available. The different styles of pizza are greatly influenced by the oven they are cooked in. All the ovens come with their own benefits and features that affect dough, crust performance, preparation speed, and taste. Some of these vital pizza production devices work better with fresh dough, while others are better suited for par-baked crusts. The most popular of them are convection ovens, deck ovens, conveyor ovens, and wood or coal-fired brick ovens. All of them have their place in the pizza industry. When looking to buy an oven, it is advisable for a pizza operator to be well informed and consider a list of important points to make sure they would get the most out of their investment. These include the amount and the kind of pizza they want to produce, the space available, and the money they are willing to spend.
Convection ovens are the best choice in settings where efficiency is the greatest priority. They have a built-in fan and use forced air with no direct bottom heat. They work best when baking a pizza at temperature of approximately 425° F. Thanks to the high temperature and the distribution of the heat by the internal fan, cooking with such an oven is quick and easy. It normally takes no longer than 5-6 minutes for the pizza to be ready. Convention ovens are perfect for any colours’ par-baked crusts. The pizza should be placed directly on the rack without a sheet pan. When using a convention oven, bakers might also find it reasonable to place a pizza stone at the bottom of the oven. This would speed up the heat transfer and the pizzas would be baked faster.
Deck ovens can be found in almost every pizza restaurant. Most of them come in gas or electric models, made of stainless steel that lasts for years. Their design features stone shelves, also referred to as ‘decks’, where the pizzas are placed. There are single, double, and triple deck models. The more decks there are, the greater number of pizzas can be cooked at the same time. Deck ovens are an excellent alternative to get an authentic taste and an efficiently cooked pizza. Instead of using forced heat, they create high levels of radiant heat, and thus deliver perfect colours’ round and oval flatbread crusts. With colours’ par-baked crusts, a good technique to avoid burning the bottom of the pizza is lowering the temperature and placing pizza screens under the crusts. The best temperature for pizza is between 400º and 600° F. Baking can only take from six to eight minutes when the heat is set between 500º and 520º F, unless the pizza is very thick and has some extra toppings.
Conveyor pizza ovens resemble standard deck pizza ovens for the reason that they allow pizza bakers to quickly and easily cook large amounts of pizza. They are very big and consist of a gas or electric burner that heats the oven to a precise temperature depending on the pizza being cooked. These ovens work by moving products through a heated chamber at a consistent speed. The main advantage is that every product is cooked exactly the same, reducing waste and saving time. Conveyor ovens are an excellent option for busy takeaways, pizzerias, restaurants, and canteens. In fact, the world’s biggest pizza chains use mostly conveyor ovens, as they are very convenient in places where hundreds of pizzas are made every day. They have a continuous cooking platform that delivers baked pizzas as fast as pizza chefs can cook them. It takes up to five minutes for the pizzas to be ready. However, as compared to the types of ovens utilizing stone surfaces and wood fires, they are not able to produce the same quality as authentic pizzas.
Wood or coal-fired brick ovens
Wood-fired brick pizza ovens, also known as coal-fired ovens, are the best choice for those willing to enjoy the look and taste typical for an Italian pizzeria. They differ from conveyor and other ovens in that they are more expensive, have limited cooking space, and take more time to cook pizza. Wood-fired brick ovens use a combination of convection, reflection, and conductive heat for the baking process. They work by soaking up heat and reaching the optimum temperature (between 700° and 1 000° F). They are made of bricks that have the ability to withstand high levels of heat. Preheating time usually takes from 45 minutes to an hour and cooking time is influenced by factors such as how thick the crusts of the pizzas are and the number of pizzas put in the oven at the same time. It might take from 90 seconds to 5 minutes, but the final result is very satisfying. Brick ovens or stone ovens are the best baking equipment to please pizza connoisseurs with rustic and crispy Italian style.
Innovations of pizza: The newest equipment for mass production of pizza
The process of making mass-produced pizza is becoming fully or partly automated in many countries by the invention high-quality machinery. This pizza-making innovation, specially tailored for the fast-paced environment in pizzerias and pizza factories, is quickly getting popularized. The machinery is used in mass production processes to do simple jobs such as flattening the dough, dispensing the perfect amount of sauce, and evenly spreading the sauce over the surface before the pizza is put into the oven. It can efficiently handle items of different sizes, shapes, and weight, while meanwhile reducing costs and production time. Put differently, it greatly facilitates pizza cooking and lets human employees get involved into more creative tasks and spend less time on tedious and repetitive work.