HOMEMADE PIZZA - Winter 2024 (Jan-Mar) Dish of the Quarter

It was a tight race, but HOMEMADE PIZZA took home top honors in our voting thread for this quarter’s DOTQ! I love pizza of all styles and make it frequently, so I am excited to read about your best tips and tricks for the perfect pie. Let’s get those ovens cranking, HOs!


I’ve been watching (youtube’s) Adam Ragusea and Brian Lagerstrom make different pizza(s) and pizza dough. For lunch today, I combined aspects from both presenters. I decided to try a pickled red onion, no sauce pizza with a lemon juice and olive oil emulsion drizzled on top. I really liked it, but Sunshine did not. She said it needed some type of sauce.

For the record, I should have coated/painted the outside crust with olive oil, as it could have been a bit darker.


Let’s talk mozzarella for a minute. Here in the NYC area (Westchester), packaged blocks of whole milk mozzarella are available in literally EVERY grocery store, usually several brands (Biazzo, Galbani/Sorrento, Polly-O and/or a store brand). Usually they’ll have 1-lb blocks of both whole milk and part skim right next to each other. You can also get loaf mozzarella in the deli section. Furthermore, all of my local Costcos carry a 2-lb block of Polly-O whole milk mozzarella, which is my preferred base cheese for pizza. I never, EVER use pre-shredded mozzarella for anything, especially not pizza.

So, imagine my surprise when I was in the northern Chicago burbs over Christmas and could not find a block of whole milk mozzarella to save my life. I dragged my mother to four different grocery stores and nary a block to be found. Even part skim was rarely available and only as an 8oz stick from a couple of store brands. I did finally find a deli counter than had Boar’s Head whole milk loaf mozzarella, but it is a slicing mozzarella and therefore much drier than I prefer for pizza. I asked an employee at one store who told me they used to carry the Biazzo brand, but had discontinued stocking it because everyone bought the pre-shredded. He also pointed out a single brand (Sorrento) that offered pre-shredded whole milk mozzarella, which I would never have found among the sea of dry, flavorless part-skim products.

WTF, Chicago? Have all of the deep dish restaurant owners banded together to block the sale of delicious, creamy whole milk mozzarella to the public so that Chicago residents will be forced to go out for tasty pizza? Do any of you live in a similar whole milk mozzarella desert?

If you haven’t used freshly grated whole milk mozzarella on your homemade pizza before, I highly recommend that you try it (provided you can find it). Polly-O is, IMO, the best of the supermarket brands, but any of them will be better than pre-shredded part skim. If you have access to Restaurant Depot, they carry several nice brands as well (Saputo is good, as are Supremo Italiano, their house brand, and Galbani Profesionale). A pox on pre-grated, part-skim mozz! Shame on you, Chicago! :wink:


Here in AZ, I have found shredded whole milk mozzarella at Walmart and there was a empty slot for a block of whole milk mozzarella, but none to be found. I keep checking the slot each time I go to Walmart, but it continues to be empty.
There is one local grocery store that has whole milk mozzarella in a “string cheese” format and I’m going to give that a try for my next NY Style pizza, but that’s pretty much it. I have not wandered over to the deli counter for fear of “sticker shock”.
I can get blocks of part skim low moisture mozzarella (reasonably priced) and that is pretty much what I use.


Yes, the Boar’s Head stuff in the deli case is much more expensive than the block type IME - I think I paid close to $9/lb for it in Chicago whereas I can get Polly-O here for no more than $6/lb at the regular store and $3.50ish/lb at Costco.

The forums at pizzamaking.com have a good discussion of major mozzarella brands and the Walmart stuff gets decent reviews there - fingers crossed you can find it sometime!

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Yes… we just can’t afford $9/pound for cheese. My local grocery store puts the part skim mozzarella on sale for $2.50/pound ($5 for two pound block). It is the Lucerne brand, it’s pretty good.

I do want to try the whole milk string cheese next.

Thanks for the link… I’ll wander over there and do some “Cheese” research.


That’s a great deal for a cheese you like. Unfortunately none of the store brands around here I have tried are very good, but the Costco price on Polly-O is quite affordable and other major brands sometimes go on 2-for-1 sales.

I like to blend a bit of young-ish provolone and some fontina in with my mozzarella for extra flavor and stretch on a thinner crust pie, but I usually don’t bother when I make deep dish since there is already so much going on.

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My girlfriend is originally from New York, I know she would reject any deep dish attempts. (LOL)

I have made a few different thin crust pizza(s) that she’ll eat. I recently made a white pizza with mushrooms & andouille sausage that was a hit, so I’ll make that again (at some point).

I have some leftover ham from Christmas, maybe I’ll work that into pizza. I got a hard “no” last time I suggested ham and pineapple. Maybe a ham and green onion pizza?? We’ll see.

I’m still perfecting my pizza dough recipe and proper cooking of it.

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Same. My preferred non-deep style given the equipment I have (an oven that will heat to 550 and a 14" cast iron “pizza steel”) is a sort of modified Neapolitan style - a 12" thin crust with lots of chew and big air bubbles in the cornicione (edge crust) that it cooks in about 6-7 minutes at the highest heat I can muster. The dough is fairly simple, just bread flour (or AP flour plus a touch of gluten), 63% water, 1-2% oil, 2% salt and a pinch of sugar, but for me the secret is a long, slow ferment in the fridge (either using wild yeast levain or commercial yeast).

I have yet to perfect a true NY style crust, but I haven’t tried that hard given that I live here and can go out for great NYC style pizza anytime!


I’m using Adam Ragusea’s (youtube) dough recipe and it’s actually pretty good.
My oven only goes to 525 (F). I have a pizza screen which is kind of working. Maybe, I’ll invest in a pizza steel with my income tax refund.

We are in the AZ desert… far, far away from my girlfriend’s original NYC studio apartment and a NYC style slice of pizza. With each try, I’m learning and getting closer.

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I just watched his video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9C5SpmnHI3Y&ab_channel=AdamRagusea If this is the recipe/method you’re using, I would strongly recommend getting a stone or steel. High hydration doughs really need that direct contact with a hot surface to rise and brown properly. I used to use a higher hydration (around 70%, whereas I think his is closer to 75% based on appearance), but I found that even with a steel, my oven doesn’t generate the heat required for a truly fantastic rise and color at that hydration (nor does his - in that video you can see that his pizza bread does not really develop a good color). With your screen and lower oven temp, you may want to experiment with lower hydration (say no more than 65%) and see if you get better color and rise that way.


I have a mini Zojirushi bread maker (should’ve bought a bigger one, but that’s beside the point) that turns out a great ball of pizza dough, especially when I use KAF’s pizza flour. I just have one issue. No matter how long I let the dough rest, it stays springy as all get-out. Days, even. If somebody has a fix for that, I’d sure like to know it. It happens with Trader Joe’s pizza dough, too. And all others. How does one get it to obey?
Otherwise, I make sauce with pureed tomatoes, Mexican oregano, thyme, fennel sometimes, garlic (always crushed fresh garlic), and pepper. Then mozzarella, fresh basil if I have it, and sometimes some of the usual pizza additions.
I’m waiting for somebody to talk about their white pizza sauce


Do you know the hydration level of the doughs you’re working with? Some dry doughs (especially those made with high protein flour) really don’t like to relax. If your dough is cold, bringing it to room temp should help.

I make a roasted garlic sauce for white pizza - my roasted garlic is usually frozen in oil, so I melt a chunk of it in a pan, mash up the cloves and use the residual oil to make a blonde roux. Splash of white wine, salt, pepper and cream or half and half, and reduce till very thick. Season with finely grated parmesan and let cool before using - it should be the consistency of sour cream when cool. I spread a very thin layer of it on the dough and then top with cheese (usually a blend of mozzarella, provolone, fontina, a bit of cheddar or gruyere, etc.). Bake. Dollop with ricotta about 1-2 mins before it’s done and grate additional parmesan on top as soon as it comes out of the oven.


+1 for garlicky white pizza sauces. Looking foward to hearing how folks are making this.

I make a simple bechamel for white pizzas, adjusting the amount of garlic, parm, and oregano, depending on my mood:

1/2 T. butter
1 T. chopped garlic
1 1/2 T. AP flour
1/2 c. milk
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 t. dried oregano flakes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Saute the garlic in hot oil/butter until golden. Whisk in flour and cook for a minute or so. Whisk in milk and cook, whisking, until smooth and to desired consistency - about a minute more. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining ingredients to taste. Makes enough for a couple of pizzas, and possibly even better the second day.


I cheat… I use Ragu Alfredo Sauce for my white sauce.

I did make a sauce less pizza today. I used equal parts olive oil and lemon juice. I put it in a small jar and shook it up, then drizzled it over the pizza (prior to baking). I liked the result and thought it was pretty good… (Credit goes to Brian Lagerstom [youtube] for that mixture)

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I cheat… I use Ragu Alfredo Sauce for my white sauce.

LOL- I posted on a thread that my “secret cheat” for making mac & cheese was using jarred alfredo sauce. It turned out that everybody and most of their relatives do the same. So much for my magical secret…
I was thinking about using it for pizza- glad to see it works

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While I can’t honestly say I’ve never used it, I agree my strong preference is for block whole milk that I shred myself (main covering), plus torn up pieces of fresh scattered here and there. I’m really surprised to hear your reporting from Chicago - a town that’s got a bit of a reputation for its pizzas (my name is scrawled on the ceiling at Gino’s East in more than one spot) - seeming to prefer the pre-shredded cellulose covered stuff.

No trouble finding whole milk blocks here. I personally can’t tell the difference between Galbani and Polly-O once the pie is done, so I get whichever is on sale.


I’ve gotten to where I really like a long pre-ferment pizza, and have gravitated toward biga style.

Here’s Chain Baker’s (Charlie) recipe and video.

I’ve also borrowed a bit from Vito Iacopelli in that I don’t mix the biga quite as much up front as Charlie recommends, instead leaving it fairly well mixed but still shaggy. I also depart from Charlie’s in that, once I’ve gotten the last bit of water and the salt and remaining yeast mixed in by hand, thereafter, rather than manipulating by hand (pun?), I’m using the stand mixer for kneading/folding steps.

I’ve mentioned liking this biga-style pizza dough in (I think) the “what’s for dinner?” thread. Repost of recent pies:

Then, making that left turn at Albuquerque, I’ve also started liking Kenji’s deep pan pizza with no-knead (or “not much knead”) dough. Something about that fried bottom and sides just seems really satisfying (sorry forgot to photograph it last time).


I’d eat that!


Paging @vinouspleasure to the Homemade Pizza thread