The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

survey on success rate of self learning making pizza

mifan's picture

survey on success rate of self learning making pizza

Hi, There

I am new to this forum, new to cooking too. I recently started to learn making pizza, made quite a few researches and tries to understand how the dough can be baked in good crust, also tried quite a lot effort to make pizza sauce. however, it seems futile, none of the tries was ever successful. so, I wondering if one has to attend a training course before he can make a good pizza. just curious, how many of you in this forum mastered pizza making skill simply by self learning? I am living in Shanghai of China, seems no good training resource I can ultilize, I also don't want to give up easily. probably your response to this survey may encourage me and give me light to keep on the hard journey.

In my many attemtps, the most difficult part seems the dough baking, I can not make it brawn without burn the toppings. how did you guys manage this part?

I thank you in advance to give ideas or helps.


Kindest Regards



SteveB's picture


There is an excellent web forum, devoted specifically to all aspects of pizza making:

I've found a wealth of information there.


shimpiphany's picture

here's a site for one of the most obsessed pizza makers i have ever seen. as much an instructional page as the ravings of a lunatic, but i've benefited from reading it.

also, if you are cooking in a conventional oven, you might try baking the dough (brushed with olive oil) for about 5-7 minutes before putting the toppings on.

the pizza primer page on thefreshloaf also is very helpful if you haven't checked it out yet.  the reinhart dough recipe is the best and most consistent i've tried.

ehanner's picture

Jeff is a member here and spent some time trying to improve his bread a while back. He is very serious about just everything he does. His aged dough concept works like a charm and I use it most of the time.


mifan's picture

SteveB and JV Pizza

Thanks a lot for your advise




ClimbHi's picture

I learned from several sources -- a good one is Reinhart's new-ish American Pie book. But, in my opinion/experience, learning first to make great bread will automatically translate into great pizza dough -- which is just bread, after all!

Since there are more & better resources on bread, concentrate on that for a while. You're pizza dough will be easy once you can make a great chiabatta.

As for sauce, you're on your own! (I prefer sauceless pizza myself -- light olive oil on the slightly pre-baked crust, topped off with fire-roasted veggies, cheese and/or pesto, then into the oven for a final bake.)

Pittsburgh, PA

clazar123's picture

I often make pizza and it is not too difficult. I started making pizza dough before I learned to make a decent bread but must admit my bread making skills are an added bonus.

Several tips:

Don;t use too much flour. You want a kneadable dough but it doesn't have to be terribly firm.I make mine almost (and I mean ALMOST) sticky and then use a little olive oil on my hands and counter to finish the knead. By almost sticky, I mean that, when you put your hand on the dough and push to knead, your hand comes away with a thin film of the dough-not a c lump. The oil should make it easier to handle and if it is still too sticky-then knead in a little more flour.

Let the dough rest for about 5-10 min so the gluten fibers relax. Then you won't be fighting with it to shape the crust.

I oil a cookie sheet and then sprinkle somewhat generously with either cornmeal (can leave a crunch! to the finished product) or a Scotch oatmeal (rolled oatmeal that is coarsely chopped is the best description I can think of). The oatmeal is softer on the finished pizza, if you don't like the crunchiness of the cornmeal.

Get the cornmeal/oatmeal in to the corners! This helps the pizza bake on the bottom so it is not soggy and also helps it release from the pan easily. 

 Sauce-tomato sauce,oregano,garlic,a little sugar and salt.Experiment.


Have fun! 

mifan's picture

Hi, Everyone, It's been for a while, I am making progress now, I can make the dough, and bake upto a reasonable brown color now, and also managed to make a good sauce. thanks to all of you for the good informations.

now, I narrow my challenge down to spreading the dough, I am following Jeff's advise, making wet dough, though not high temp yet. however, still having difficulty to spread the dough as smooth as the pics I've seen on net before baking. eventhough the baking makes up part of the problem, I still wish could have the skill to spread the dough evenly. I knew it takes a lot practices, someday, I wish could spin the dough over the shoulder ... ...  I have been watching videos on net, this part seems very difficult.

Currently, I do bake the dough 2 - 3 minutes (570 F temp) before topping, it seems good. however, not sure if this practice may forsacken part of the moisture balance in the crust( I meant crispy vs chewy )? oops, don't know if I made my point clear, this part is difficult to express too, as I am not a native English speak.

I also use a couple of drops of oil on the plate to keep the dough from stick. now, I have a bake stone, can not remember where I got this advise - one has to prevent the oil from dropping on the baking stone. so, recently, I didn't use oil. I am following this no oil on stone advise, though don't know the reason yet. not sure if anyone of you got any problem with the oil being on the baking stone?

ejm's picture

When we make slack dough pizza (wet dough), we place the shaped round on a piece of parchment paper that is on the peel. The parchment paper easily slips right onto the pizza stone. It's okay to leave it there for the whole time of cooking. But it can also be removed half way through when you have to turn the pizza around to account for uneven heat in the oven.

If you do not have parchment paper,  you can use cornmeal (ground dried corn) - scatter it liberally on your peel before placing the shaped pizza on it. The cornmeal acts like ball-bearings and the pizza easily slips off the peel onto the preheated stone (we preheat the oven for about 20 minutes at the highest it will go to and then reduce the heat to 400F for the actual cooking). 

We never pre-bake our crust. Try playing with the position of the stone. If the bottom is getting burned before the top is done, move the stone up onto a higher rack. If the opposite is happening, move the stone down.

As for spinning dough in the air, I've never had the nerve to try. My husband has but only does it when the dough is not too floppy. If you find that you're not getting the crust as thin as you want, you can use a floured rolling pin to flatten it out.


P.S. Here is our pizza recipe.


AnnieT's picture

I once absentmindedly grabbed the oil spray instead of the water to spritz the oven and gave the stone a liberal spray. Over the years the stone has had melted cheese and other stuff dripped on it, and the only problem is a whiff of burning when it heats up. It doesn't look pretty but it does the job. I do brush off any cornmeal once it has cooled although usually the parchment paper keeps it contained, A.

LLM777's picture

Cast iron is a viable substitute for a pizza stone and takes less time to heat through.

mifan's picture

I guess my problem probably is from the kneading process not long enough, the gluten not well developed, hence, there was difficulty to spread with adquate elasticity to make the crust look smooth and even. I will try today to see if this can resolve the issue.

I thought tossing the dough is the very effective part of spreading process, and this might resolve my problam. however, if this isn't the critical point, then, I will not be to keen to this skill. hopefully my guess could be right, the gluten was not being developed enough.

so, will see if this issue can be resolved shortly.

I am fine with the oil drops on baking stone, if the stone still does a good job. 


KosherBaker's picture

Hello mifan.

Congratulations to you for embarking on a wonderful journey. I've experiemented a lot with pizza recipes and am still doing it today. So I guess it's one of those things where there is always something new to learn. I started with fairly dry dough and baking at about 350F to now using a somewhat wetter dough and baking at higher temperature.

I'd like to say that twirling the dough in the air is never a good thing for your pizza in my experience. First of, it means your dough is too dry. Secondly the gluten is probably overdeveloped and your dough will be too chewy, too hard.

As for the sauce. I no longer cook my tomato sauce. I put canned tomatoes in a blender with just enough of their liquid to make a thick, very thick (milkshake like consistency) liquid. From it I remove the amount I need and add to it my favourite herbs and spices. Which usually include salt, pepper and garlic. I let this mixture mature for 1 to 8 hours before use. Sometimes I add fresh basil or thyme after I spread the souce out on the pizza. On top of that goes either goat cheese or mozzarella. Not too much or too little. I like approximately 80% coverage with my cheese.


hansjoakim's picture

one way of checking whether the dough is kneaded long enough, is to try the windowpane test. take a little chunk off the rest of the dough, and see if you can gently stretch it into a thin, slightly transparent film.

i often find that i need to knead the dough slightly longer than what the recipes call for to achieve the desired strength in the dough. 

mifan's picture

Hi, Rudy

Good to have you share your experience, and thanks. you made the point, if the dough could be spinned off, that meant over-development of gluten, this will hurdle the bubles to push the dough skin.



JIP's picture

Here's a site you might check out

He runs counter to all the recipes that start with "proof the yeast in a little warm water".  He also uses a 3-6 day proof in the refrigerator for his dough which I think is a great idea to impart more flavor to the crust although it does take quite alot of planning.  He also uses an extremely slack almost liquid dough that CANNOT be tossed in the air and he says as much.

Happy-Batard's picture

The best pizza sauce is really very simple. Use a can of Whole-peeled tomatoes. Crush by hand and put into a strainer suspended over a bowl overnight in  the fridge. Take pulp and add some minced garlic oregano and salt to it. Should be very dry (almost like paste) Spoon over crust and add your fave toppings. Enjoy

Sparkie's picture



I have been baking pizza since I am 9. I was shown great grandma's recipe, to the exclusion of all others, and quite frankly I was shown incorrectly. Working in a pizzaria didn't help because I didn't learn. In the pizzeria I did one thing, at home another. I didn't see the difference because I was seeing a huge scaled up version. PLUS I saw it as a violation of grandma's rules. She was a flawless cook and spectacular baker of pastry, but simpley useless with pizza. or, more likely, she just did not want anyone to know. My GG grandmother would tell no one I am told and would not hesitate to change something if she did tell, or leave it out. weird.


So this is what I determined for small batch pizza , must be very moist, for 4 unsifted cups flour, 1.5 cups water, (as low as 1.25), .25 yeast(ounce), 2 teaspoons salt, oil is optioanl at 1 teaspoon .  Dissolve yeast in water (about 110 degrees), after you see it bloom in the bowl, add salt, oil, mix then add in 1/2 flour stir, add 2nd half. Knead it about 5 minutes, if too sticky add more flour 1/2 cup at a time, keep count, if it goes to two cups sprinkle in another teaspoon salt. turn onto table hand knead, cover with towel, sit 15 minutes .


cut up into sizes you like oil, put in bowls cover in plastic store in cold place minimum 8 hours. we would make dough in pizzeria about 24 hours before we kneeded it . The ownre told me if you use unretarded dough it was bad, as it did not always work the way you need it.


Pizza  is cooked on top , but primarily through the bottom. If you don't have a brick oven , line the oven with firebricks, (cheaper then baking stone).


the oven must be hot 550 is typical house oven in USA and works quite nicely. The pizzeria I almost bought was set at 600. BUT it was opened and closed many times during service.


It took me years to achive my goal and it comes down to 3

wet dough

very hot oven 550 defrees F

stone floor

I have used JUST the first two and made pizza everyone loved, but the stone I believe adds a mouthfell difference on the pie.


that is all true for Neoplolitan, for Sicialin , or 'thick slice, " or "square" as we said as kids

push dough out in pan , brush with spoon of sauce, water and oil, mixed up, so it doesnt crust up, allow to rise bake off bake at lower temps. take out . We mae a dozen shells at a time then put in fridge, almost 32 degrees, till needed, then sauced, cheesed -600 degree oven till micely melted. In my own home I skip the prebake.

 sauce is canned whole plum termaters, pureed, with fresh and dry garlic fresh and dry basil (if available, lotsa a dry stuff), small oregano, onion powder, small black pepper, mixed well allowed to sit an hour or so. It cooks on the pie. . I used to cook it, and still do sometimes, but  a real cooked tomato sauce ala Sunday, is a very different product. Butter a cold sweet sauce. Please note no salt added. no sugar added. You may decide you need salt, but you should never need sugar. I have yet to put salt in a tomato sauce pizza or not.

thats my tale o woe



oh yeah, the best pizza I ate for years was from a Bread bakery . The get made huge sheets of it at end of baking just when the people were about to eat lunch