How to Cook Brick Oven-Style Pizza in Your Oven

Who doesn’t love pizza cooked in a brick oven?  The crunch of the crust, the gooeyness of the browned, bubbly cheese, that slight char… Are you drooling yet?

Leek Pizza

Well now, thanks to the brilliance of Jim Lahey, you can achieve pizza nirvana at home with these simple steps and a couple additions to your kitchen armory.

How to Cook Brick Oven-Style Pizza in Your Oven

You will need:

1) a pizza stone (Can you tell ours is well-used?) – You want to make sure you get a stone large enough for the pizzas you like to make.  Ours is 16″.  Also, the thicker the better (increased thickness improves heat retention).

Pizza Stone

and 2) a pizza peel – I recommend getting a peel that’s about the same size as your pizza stone, that way you can’t make a pizza that won’t fit on the stone

Pizza Peel

First, move your oven rack to the top position.  Place your pizza stone on the rack and preheat your oven to 500° F.

Once the oven has reached 500°, set a timer for 30 minutes.  This time allows the pizza stone to heat.

After, 30 minutes, turn off the oven and leave the door open for 1 minute.  It’s important to let some of the heat out of the oven.  Ovens have an automatic temperature cut-off so if it’s too hot, the broiler will shut off in the next step and your pizza won’t cook as well.  Don’t worry, your pizza stone will retain its heat.

After 1 minute, close the oven door and turn the broiler on high.  Let the pizza stone continue to heat for 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on your oven.  If you can no longer see an orange glow, your oven has gotten too hot and the broiler has shut off.  Open the door to let out some heat.  Once you see the broiler glowing orange again, close the door.

Now, your pizza stone is ready!  Using your pizza peel, slide your pizza onto the stone.  Keep the broiler on and cook 5-7 minutes until the cheese is browned and bubbling and the crust is slightly charred.  Remove the pizza from the oven using your peel, allow to cool slightly, slice, and enjoy!!  Doesn’t this look delicious?!

Brick Oven Pizza

A few notes on this cooking method:

1.)  You cannot use parchment paper with this method.  You must make your pizza directly on the pizza peel and slide it from the peel onto the hot stone.  This means you need to make sure you have enough flour on your peel to keep the crust from sticking.  You could also use cornmeal if you don’t mind the texture.

I recommend waiting to shape your dough and put on your toppings until the last minute.  You want to be able to put your pizza in the oven as soon as you’re done making it.  The longer it sits, the more likely your dough will stick.  It’s better to heat the stone a few minutes more than necessary than leave your pizza sitting on the peel for a few minutes waiting for the oven to be ready.

Another tip, shake the peel periodically to make sure the dough’s not sticking.  I shake it after I shape the dough, after I put on the sauce, and after I put on the toppings – it’s good to check to make sure it will slide before you try to put it in the oven.  But don’t shake too much: pizza dough’s elastic so with each shake it may shrink a little.

It may seem like I’ve gone on a long time about making sure your dough won’t stick, but TRUST ME, there’s nothing more frustrating than putting together a delicious pizza and having it stick/rip when you try to put it in the oven and having it fall apart or burn onto that blazing hot pizza stone…

2.)  This method WILL heat up your kitchen.  Not surprising given that you’re holding an oven at 500° for 30+ minutes, but be aware.  You may want to think twice about cooking pizza this way if it’s a hot day… especially if you live in a place like Juneau where people don’t have AC in their homes.  I live in an 800 sq. ft. condo and this warms up the entire place, not just the kitchen.

3.)  There are some ingredients that don’t hold up well under the intense heat of the broiler.  If you’re making a pizza topped with fresh herbs (such as basil or parsley) you want to wait to add those until you pull the pizza out of the oven.  If you cook these delicate ingredients under the broiler, they’ll cook to oblivion and you’ll be left with burnt herbs on your pizza.  Prosciutto is also not recommended for broiler cooking.  This is why I never cook our Pesto Pizza using this method.

Ready to try this method yourself?  Check out our Four Cheese White Pizza, Margherita Pizza, Leek Pizza with Creamy Onion Sauce, Sausage and Fennel Pizza, or Sausage and Ricotta Pizza!  Be careful though, if you shake too hard moving the sausage and ricotta pizza onto the stone, the sausage can roll off…

Sausage and Ricotta Pizza

If you enjoy brick oven pizza as much as I do, you should check out Jim Lahey’s cookbook My Pizza.  It’s worth the investment!  It’s full of delicious and unique recipes that utilize this cooking method.  Since acquiring this cookbook, my boyfriend and I have started a tradition of cooking pizza every Sunday for lunch.  We’ve tried most of his recipes and almost all were wonderful!

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