Tips for Making Better Homemade Pizza

Making gourmet pizza at home is a fun, tasty way to spend time with family and friends. (Photo courtesy: Ghost Box Pizza).

aking gourmet pizza at home is a fun, tasty way to spend time with family and friends. Since getting the best results at home can be tricky, we reached out to Gourmet Ghost’s Ghost Box Pizza, with locations in Lafayette, Westminster and Denver, to get tips, recommendations and favorite recipes to ensure success.

Adam Tuttle, founder and CEO of Gourmet Ghost, said using the correct cooking device is essential.

If baking pizza in an oven, place it on a pizza stone to absorb and radiate heat evenly, cooking the pizza from the bottom up. 

“If you put pizza dough on a rack or metal sheet pan, it heats up too quickly, causing burning and uneven cooking,” Tuttle said. 

Stones have different compositions for flavor variations. A maple stone is good for browning; smoked stones give pizza smokey flavor.

Tuttle touts portable Ooni pizza ovens if you want to cook year-round. Wood-fired and gas versions are ideal for outdoors, while newer electric powered units can be used in a kitchen or outside. Ooni’s coil operation system above and below the dough heats up to 850 degrees, cooking a pizza in 30 to 45 seconds.

Next up is the dough. Tuttle recommends homemade or buying fresh or frozen dough balls that you press out by hand. Pre-sheeted fresh frozen is also okay if you don’t want to press your own. He recommends Rich’s Pizza Dough, available online and some groceries.

To prepare the crust, defrost dough and press to flatten and shape it. If you’re feeling really Italian and want to toss it, grind the ball with your fists to loosen and flatten the dough on a work surface scattered with semolina flour. Grab the edges with your fingertips, working around it while holding it aloft to stretch it into a round shape.

“Use your punching knuckles under the dough, tossing it and working outwards to stretch it into that round shape,” Tuttle said.

Along with good quality toppings, you’ll need good quality sauce. 

“Don’t buy an off-brand value sauce. Look for Carbone, Classico or Rao’s brands. The sauce and dough are affordable, they’re the cheapest parts of pizza-making,” he noted. 

If using homemade sauce, process fresh tomatoes or canned ones like Muir Glen Organics or Cento in a blender or food processor. Add the basics: chopped garlic cloves, dried or fresh parsley and basil. Finish with extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil.

Finally, pick your cheese. Tuttle prefers a 50/50 mix of fresh shredded mozzarella and sharp or regular provolone.

If making pizza at home doesn’t fit your busy schedule, Ghost Box Pizza serves thin crust Brooklyn style and Detroit style, a thicker crust pizza baked in a sheet pan.

“The Brooklyn, or New York, is the most popular, but the Detroit dough gets crispier, kind of like a breadstick, and because the dough rises more you’ll enjoy different flavors throughout the crust,” Tuttle said.

Ghost Box menu highlights its original stacked pepperoni and the Sicilian, a meat-lovers’ favorite laden with prosciutto, capocollo, two salamis, pepperoni, Italian peppers and balsamic glaze. Or go gourmet with a prosciutto pesto pie drizzled with truffle oil, tomatoes, arugula, goat cheese and balsamic reduction. Rotating Colorado brews, California wines and craft cocktails are available. Dine in-house, for pickup or delivery. 

By Emily Kemme | Longmont Magazine