Pizza: So Simple – So Perfect

Pizza is, in my humble opinion, one of the most delicious, least complicated and immensely popular foods in the US. But, how can something so simple be prepared in so many different ways?

I find it fascinating that most pizza crusts sold in the US all contain the same basic five ingredients: flour, salt, yeast, oil and water. From the finest “apizza” shops in New Haven Connecticut to national pizza chains, all pizza starts with these same five ingredients. The slightest variation can make the difference between an exquisite thin and bubbly charred crust and a dense chewy one.

Process is important as well; a solid resting time provides the dough an opportunity to develop structurally while enhancing the flavor. A starter which helps with fermentation makes for the rich back-note flavor often found in sourdough bread. The crust is only the first building block of a pizza which can make-or-break a good pizza pie.

Water may play a role in making a great crust. New York City boasts of having the largest unfiltered water supply system in the US and is considered to have the “champagne of drinking water” with the perfect mineral composition often associated with great pizza, bread and bagels.

Most traditional pizza chains top their crusts with pizza “sauce”. Unlike a traditional Neapolitan sauce which is never pre-cooked, these mass-produced sauces are simmered for hours, and are often very thick, bitter, highly acidic and finished with dried herbs such as oregano. Many frozen pizza manufacturers use hydrated tomato paste seasoned with dried herbs, sugar and oil to make a consistent sauce allowing for easier commercialization and a more affordable product. I prefer hand crushed San Marzano plum tomatoes mixed with sea salt, caramelized aromatics and a touch of EVOO to use atop my crusts.

The type of cheese used on a pizza also has an impact on flavor and overall mouthfeel.  I prefer whole milk fresh shredded mozzarella on my pie. The perfect balance of crust to sauce to cheese is equally important when making a great pizza. I tend to not like too much sauce or cheese.  A well-constructed restaurant pizza should have a light coating of sauce, a moderate amount of shredded cheese finished with a spritz of high quality olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese. A good pie doesn’t need dried herbs, as the crust, sauce, cheese and other toppings should speak for themselves.

CraftMark Bakery has a variety of pizza crust capabilities. We bake 7 ½” round individual crusts, rectangular Roman style crusts and several in between. CraftMark is a custom bakery that produces top quality frozen cookie dough, baked cookies, ready-to-eat flatbread and pizza crusts, pre-deposited muffin batters and proof and bake bread dough for some of the largest and iconic QSR, Fast Casual and Retail brands.

Charred New Haven Pizza
Chef Brian Averna with Wood Fired Pizza
Sicilian Pizza
CraftMark Bakery Personal Size Pizza Crust