Watch Cooking Channel

Crafting a Better Pizza Crust

The guys at Best Pizza in Williamsburg, Brooklyn know what they're doing. Photo: Roberto Ferdman

When perfected, pizza crust is light and airy, substantial enough to hold its toppings, but never so heavy that it weighs you down. Each bite is at once chewy and crunchy, and each mouthful is a delicious balance between texture and taste.

But last week when I pulled a pie from out of my own oven, it was none of those. I kneaded it and let it rise, shaped it, dressed and tossed it into an oven set at the highest possible temperature. To my disappointment, the crust was dense and heavy. Where did I go wrong?

Looking for an answer, I caught up with Frank Pinello from Best Pizza in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to learn the ins and outs of perfecting pizza crust.

With lots of white and little to distract, Best Pizza puts the focus on the pie.

It’s not hard to notice the big wood-burning brick oven when you walk in — it’s bright and red and burning hot. While Frank admits that exceptionally high cooking temperatures certainly help in achieving a fantastic crust (their oven burns at over 1000 degrees F), he assures me that no matter what oven you use, a few tips and techniques can go a long way.

Hailing me around the counter, he says the best way to learn is to watch him at work. And after a few hours, Frank made good on his promise by filling me up with loads of great tips and lots of delicious pizza. Here’s the round up.

1. Never Start With Cold Dough
Once the dough has risen, Frank begins, it sits at room temperature for a couple hours before being used. Pizza dough should always warm for about two hours so that it stretches easily. At colder temperatures, it tends be a bit stubborn and takes longer to shape.

2. Clean up the Excess Oil
Emptying a round blob of dough onto the floured working surface, Frank explains that the details are already in play. “Always drop the dough upside down onto your working surface, so the oiled side faces up and doesn’t gobble up all the flour.” Using a clean towel, Frank pats dry the exposed part of the dough, removing excess oil. If the dough catches too much flour, he explains, the pie will go into the oven with patches of flour that will burn and produce flour scabs (the small white spots you sometimes find on pizza bottoms).

Always lay the dough down oil-side up. Photo: Roberto Ferdman

3. Sift Your Flour
Frank suggests using sifted flour for both the working surface and the top of the dough. He always runs his flour through a sifter to make sure no lumps, stray dust or dirt is added.

Passing your flour through a strainer can go a long way.

4. Don’t Overwork the Dough
You never, Frank cautions with a raised finger for emphasis, ever want to overwork the dough. Overworking pizza dough is what produces crusts that are dense and spongy.

5. Use A Light Touch
The biggest mistake people make, Frank continues, is using their entire palm to work the dough. Frank uses only the top half of his fingers, and presses the dough gently as though he were leaving faint fingerprints. Air bubbles, he explains, are what make a pizza light and airy, and if you press too hard on the dough, you’re just pushing them all out.

6. Start with the Edges
When shaping the pie into a circle, begin with the outer rim. “The edges should always be the first step — that way you ensure your pizza will have a nice and airy crust at the edges,” he says. Only when he finishes with the edges does he move on to shape the center.

Shape the outer rim first to form nice, fluffy edges. Photo: Roberto Ferdman

7. Keep it Round
The best way to ensure a pizza comes out of the oven round is to keep it round while working it, Frank explains. “If you keep it round the entire time, you won’t have to struggle at the end.” Pressing lightly, with only the upper half of his fingers, Frank dabs at the dough and reminds me how important it is to preserve all the air bubbles inside.

Keep your pie round at each step so you won't have to work too hard at the end.

8. “Slap” the Dough
To stretch the pie into its full size, Frank uses a technique he calls “slapping,” where he tosses the pie from hand to hand like a hot potato. This helps you stretch it quickly. Afterward, he makes sure it’s still round, and lays in onto a peel.

"Slap" the dough to stretch it quickly and easily.

9. Keep it Moving
Once on the peel, Frank works quickly to ladle a heap of sauce over the center, urging that this part needs to happen fast — if the pizza sits for too long on the peel, its oils will sink to the bottom and the crust will stick.

Don't go overboard with sauce, or you'll end up with a soggy crust. Photo: Roberto Ferdman

10. Go Easy on the Cheese
Though it may be hard to hold back, the key to a balanced crust is a modest amount of toppings. When Frank sprinkles on the cheese, he does so in concentric circles, starting from the outside and working his way in. As the cheese melts, he explains, it tends to shift inwards and weigh down the center of the pie. If you put too much cheese in the middle, you’ll end up with a crust that’s soggy in center. Too much of anything, he adds, will just weigh the whole thing down.

The result? Perfect pie.

As Frank pulls the margherita pie out of the oven, the cheese bubbles and pops — and my belly almost jumps out of excitement. When I finally get my hands on a slice, it’s well worth the wait. Frank’s pizza crust lives up to his promise: nicely charred but never burnt, the texture a perfect intersection between chewy and crunchy.

Frank Pinello, founder and head pizzamaker at Best Pizza, is one of NYC’s rising pizza stars. Before opening Best Pizza in the fall of 2010, Frank worked at Pulino’s Bar & Pizzeria in NYC and Giacomo’s Pizza in the Poughkeepsie area, and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America.

More about Best Pizza in Brooklyn:

Cooking Channel’s Favorite Pizza Recipes:

More Italian:

Special thanks to Andrew Foti for help with the photos.

Tags:

Comments (1629)

  1. Dragon Nest gold posted 11/14/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    I am not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t come across such a subject like this….

  2. Title…

    […]we like to honor numerous other web web sites around the internet, even though they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Beneath are some webpages worth checking out[…]…

  3. moving company dc posted 11/15/2013

    Title…

    […]Here is a good Weblog You might Uncover Interesting that we Encourage You[…]…

  4. Age of WuLin Liang posted 11/15/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    we can provide that power leveling faster and safe ,welcome to place order on our website…

  5. archeage power leveling posted 11/15/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    we can provide that power leveling faster and safe ,welcome to place order on our website…

  6. old las vegas posted 11/15/2013

    Title…

    […]just beneath, are various absolutely not associated web-sites to ours, on the other hand, they’re certainly worth going over[…]…

  7. Running Races in the USA posted 11/16/2013

    Read was interesting, stay in touch……

    […]please visit the sites we follow, including this one, as it represents our picks from the web[…]……

  8. Anarchy Online Credits posted 11/16/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    With thanks…

  9. rs 2007 power leveling posted 11/16/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    I don’t know what I would have done if I had not encountered such a point like this….

  10. arvixe coupons posted 11/17/2013

    Title…

    […]one of our visitors lately suggested the following website[…]…

  11. Title…

    This is my Excerpt…

  12. hipnosis conversacional posted 11/19/2013

    Yahoo results…

    While browsing Yahoo I found this blog in the results and I didn’t think it fit…

  13. workout diet posted 11/19/2013

    Title…

    […]Every the moment inside a although we pick blogs that we read. Listed beneath are the most up-to-date internet sites that we decide on […]…

  14. Kim Kardashian blog posted 11/19/2013

    Title…

    […]Sites of interest we have a link to[…]…

  15. 24h news posted 11/19/2013

    Title…

    […]here are some links to web sites that we link to since we assume they are really worth visiting[…]…

  16. apple repair uni posted 11/20/2013

    Title…

    […]very couple of web sites that occur to become detailed below, from our point of view are undoubtedly properly worth checking out[…]…

  17. kitchen knife sets posted 11/24/2013

    Title…

    […]usually posts some incredibly intriguing stuff like this. If you are new to this site[…]…

  18. dsd posted 11/25/2013

    Title…

    […]always a huge fan of linking to bloggers that I adore but really don’t get lots of link love from[…]…

  19. new songs 2013 posted 11/25/2013

    Title…

    […]usually posts some incredibly intriguing stuff like this. If you’re new to this site[…]…

  20. free nfl picks posted 11/25/2013

    Related……

    […]just beneath, are numerous totally not related sites to ours, however, they are surely worth going over[…]……

  21. Maryland Web Design posted 11/26/2013

    Maryland Web Design…

    […]below you will locate the link to some web-sites that we feel it is best to visit[…]…

  22. Boise residential electricians posted 11/26/2013

    Title…

    […]The information and facts mentioned inside the post are several of the most effective accessible […]…

  23. life insurance comparison posted 11/26/2013

    Links…

    […]Sites of interest we have a link to[…]……

  24. 安全な電力平準化と金…

    私が感じる非常に ラッキーたのは使用 あなたの全体 サイトとを楽しみにしてトンもっと回ここに読み…

  25. Andrea posted 11/29/2013

    Title…

    […]the time to read or take a look at the subject material or web-sites we’ve linked to below the[…]…

  26. Technology Integration posted 11/29/2013

    Title…

    […]we like to honor quite a few other world wide web websites around the web, even though they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Underneath are some webpages really worth checking out[…]…

  27. christmas cooking posted 11/29/2013

    Title…

    […]that is the finish of this report. Here you’ll discover some web-sites that we assume you will appreciate, just click the links over[…]…

  28. wow professions power leveling posted 11/30/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    Our own sincere regret for not expressing gratitude to you sooner…

  29. fifa 14 coins pc posted 11/30/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    I am not sure what I would’ve done if I had not come upon such a solution like this….

  30. France posted 12/01/2013

    Title…

    […]Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a couple of unrelated data, nevertheless genuinely worth taking a appear, whoa did a single study about Mid East has got far more problerms at the same time […]…

  31. diablo 3 gold hardcore aisa posted 12/02/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    Thank you…

  32. Shoes Online posted 12/02/2013

    Related……

    […]just beneath, are numerous totally not related sites to ours, however, they are surely worth going over[…]……

  33. jnl fusion dvd posted 12/03/2013

    Title…

    […]here are some hyperlinks to internet sites that we link to mainly because we believe they may be really worth visiting[…]…

  34. Title…

    […]just beneath, are several absolutely not associated websites to ours, on the other hand, they may be surely worth going over[…]…

  35. Jasa SEO Jakarta Profesional posted 12/04/2013

    Webite Design With Dreamweaver…

    Some People even now mix up whilst create the website utilizing dreamveaver. Numerous instance and Lessons about How dreamweaver operates not enough to help them. I understand many people waiting for dreamweaver e book…

  36. runescape 3 gold posted 12/06/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    I feel quite privileged to have seen your entire web site and look forward to so many more awesome moments reading here…

  37. FF14 育成代行 posted 12/06/2013

    安全な電力平準化と金…

    あなたがしている 行って 良い仕事…

  38. kampung inggris pare posted 12/07/2013

    Title…

    […]The data mentioned in the write-up are several of the most beneficial offered […]…

  39. PSO2 育成代行 posted 12/07/2013

    安全な電力平準化と金…

    我々はより速く、電力平準化を提供し、安全で、当社のウェブサイト上で注文をするために歓迎することができます…

  40. Tour Pulau Pari posted 12/08/2013

    Dreamweaver For Website Design…

    Many people still befuddle while build their site using dreamveaver. So many case in point as well as Lessons about how exactly dreamweaver operates too few to assist them to. I realize a lot of people looking forward to dreamweaver e-book…

  41. los angeles dui lawyer posted 12/08/2013

    Title…

    […]the time to study or take a look at the subject material or sites we have linked to below the[…]…

  42. wordpress hosting posted 12/09/2013

    Title…

    […]Sites of interest we’ve a link to[…]…

  43. Title…

    […]although web-sites we backlink to below are considerably not associated to ours, we feel they are in fact really worth a go by, so have a look[…]…

  44. TrackBack…

    If you are going for best contents like myself, simply go to see this site every day because it presents quality contents, thanks…

  45. 安全な電力平準化と金…

    私の非常に自身 正直 謝罪 への感謝を表現するのおかげと言っていないためあなた 早く…

  46. kontent machine posted 12/11/2013

    Title…

    […]although websites we backlink to beneath are considerably not related to ours, we feel they are actually really worth a go through, so have a look[…]…

  47. TrackBack…

    WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. Г–…

  48. over here posted 12/12/2013

    Related……

    […]just beneath, are numerous totally not related websites to ours, however, they are surely worth going over[…]……

  49. Tour Tidung posted 12/12/2013

    Woman of Alien…

    Great perform you’ve got carried out, this web site is basically great with great info. Time is God’s means of keeping almost everything from happening at once….

  50. kilk posted 12/13/2013

    Online Article……

    […]The info mentioned in the article are valueable […]……

Post a New Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

c