WHEN IS THE PIZZA READY?
This is the ultimate decision, one from which there is no turning back.
Your pizza is ready when both top and bottom are cooked.
1. We said that you have to start turning your pizza when the part facing the flame has formed a light crust, and you have to continue turning it until it has reached a uniform colour.
2. Lift the crust and check the base: don’t worry if you see some dark marks as long as there aren’t too many and have covered entire portions, which means your oven is too hot. The colour of the base should be a golden colour all over.
3. When your pizza has a golden colour on top and on the bottom then it is ready.
Try to lift the pizza with the small blade to take it out of the oven. This is the first sign of a cooked pizza, very useful because the pizza is still inside the oven. It is well cooked if it stays on the blade without breaking up with the weight of the toppings.
How many times have we said to be careful because raw dough won’t hold the weight of the toppings? Once the pizza is cooked the dough starts to stiffen and therefore can hold the weight. If it doesn’t or tends to flop on one side or take on an umbrella shape then it is obviously not ready and needs more cooking – if the colour is correct then you risk over-cooking the pizza, the best answer here is to leave the pizza in the mouth of the oven. Obviously it is not necessary that the pizza is perfectly shaped and straight like a piece of wood, if so the risk is that it will become too hard.
If you still aren’t convinced, there is one more test you can do.
Whatever type of pizza, even a soft one if cooked correctly should make a “cracking” sound when cut (I apologise for the definition but I have used it because I found it the most representative and suitable). It isn’t always possible to cut all pizzas, some you have to lift the crust hoping to hear the sound. It’s enough to just lift a small corner to check if it is cooked, possibly the lighter part or the part that seems most at risk. If this part is not cooked it means that you observations were not correct and you have missed a detail along the way. All that is left to do is leave the pizza for a very short time in the oven, or leave it in the mouth of the oven.
Another test is to flatten the crust or edge which should always make the same sound. This test, even if only a guideline, doesn’t tell you if the inside of the pizza is cooked, only the cooking point of the surface.
In short we can say that our pizza, the one we make with our dough and cook in our oven, which finally we have learnt to work with, takes a certain time.
We know it instinctively. There’s no need to use any instrument or timers.
This knowledge is the sum of all the signs that we have come to recognise, like the colour of the pizza, the colour of the dome, the time it takes to cook and an interior clock we have developed, our experience that tells us what to do and when to do it.
If we lift a pizza to turn it or take it out of the oven we know with certainty that it will be cooked, or how much time is needed still, how many blasts of heat or if it needs just a quick moment in the hottest part of the oven. These will be automatic movements, spontaneous, and we will be able to cook any kind of pizza with any kind of dough in any kind of oven.
In a pizzeria the best added value determining the final result is the human factor, the complete opposite of industrialized and mechanized systems where technology is predominant. There are no fixed standards or rules to which you must adhere because there is no need or reason to have them, giving many results all excellent and diverse.
This is how the Grand Master pizza chefs, of which there are a lot but not many, work – always producing perfectly stretched, light and fragrant pizzas, or soft and fluffy ones, always the same and always the best. Apart from a particular or specific dough that is used to exalt the flavour, using their own personal doses, ingredients and recipes that are often the result of many experiments and tests, there are also years of experience in each component of the pizza, not least the cooking method, and often a genuine passion that produces only their best efforts, the research in finding and supplying only the best quality products for their customers.
And sometimes this becomes art.