I have cooked thousands of pizzas while working for a popular delivery chain. We even used the old-fashioned baker’s ovens, and not those conveyors most pizza joints use nowadays. There is definitely an art to making a perfectly cooked pizza. It’s really easy to under or overcook the dough, especially at home. Here is a quick guide to fixing messed up pizzas and avoiding the common causes as well.
The best way to fix undercooked pizza is to lower the temperature down to about 350 and move the oven rack down to the lowest notch. Then, cook for an additional 3 minutes. If the bottom is golden brown, it is done. If not, keep cooking the pizza in 3-minute increments until it is done.
The rest of this article will provide you all the info you need to start cooking better pizzas at home today. Whether they are the frozen store-bought kind or made from homemade dough, these methods will work.
Fixing Undercooked Pizza Dough
Undercooked pizza dough happens when it is not cooked properly, and oven settings are often the culprit. Pizza needs to cook evenly, although some ovens cannot produce the right results without some adjustments. In some instances, merely lowering your oven rack closer to the bottom will help prevent your pizza dough from being undercooked.
To fix undercooked pizza dough:
- Try lowering your oven temperature slightly and moving your oven rack closer to the bottom.
- Cook it for a few minutes, then check to see whether the dough is done.
- If the dough is still undercooked, continue cooking it and checking every few minutes to prevent overcooking.
Here are some things you can do to make sure that you never have to deal with undercooked pizza dough again.
Hot and Fast Is the Secret
When you cook pizza in a traditional wood pizza or baker’s oven, the crust bakes in a mere 7 or 8 minutes, not the 15 or 20 minutes listed on the box or in most recipes.
This happens because the whole oven is piping hot, especially the oven floor. While you cannot achieve precisely the same cooking environment at home, you can still come pretty close and cook your pizza much more thoroughly. Just follow these easy steps.
3 steps to more thorough cooked pizza at home:
- Crank the temperature up to the maximum most ovens will allow. This is usually about 500 °F. Don’t go above 500, though.
- Place your pizza on a pre-heated pizza stone or pizza steel to cook. The pizza must be sitting on a piping hot surface before it starts cooking.
- Cook for 7 minutes. If the bottom is golden brown, you are done. The cheese will likely be starting to turn brown as well.
A pre-heated pizza stone or pizza steel will help ensure you get a nicely browned crust.
A cold stone = a doughy pizza
Pizza Stone vs. Pizza Steel
Pizza stones are a familiar way to ensure a nicely cooked pizza. They work well by keeping the bottom of the pizza hot while cooking in the oven.
But, recently, the pizza steel has emerged as a new way to cook pizza. Fans of pizza steel argue that steel conducts heat better than the stone, will cook your pizza faster, and will not shatter due to temperature changes as pizza stones sometimes do.
Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer pizza stones. Either tool is just fine, though.
Here are a few more things that you can do to get the best pizza possible.
Avoid Ultra-High Temperatures
Your oven at home does not function as well as a wood pizza oven. Using a high temperature, say above 550, at home can produce less desirable results like dried out pizza crust or burned toppings.
To ensure both the toppings and the dough cook together, the “sweet spot” setting of 500 °F while cooking the pizza on a lower oven rack. This will give your pizza a longer baking time while allowing the crust and toppings to cook without either being overcooked or undercooked.
Do Not Use Cold Dough
Cold dough takes longer to cook than dough that starts out at room temperature. If you use cold dough when making a pizza, you can expect the top to finish cooking before the bottom, leading to undercooked dough when it comes out of the oven.
Avoid Early Sauce Application
Putting sauce on your pizza too early can cause your pizza to take longer to cook. The moisture transfers from the sauce to the pizza dough because there is no moisture barrier between the sauce and the dough.
The best way to stop moisture from seeping into the dough is to add toppings to your pizza right before putting it into the oven. The second way is to add a barrier by coating the dough with a thin layer of olive oil.
Of course, if you like soggy pizza, by all means, go ahead and pre-sauce your dough ahead of time. To each their own.
Why Is My Pizza Dough Not Cooking Correctly?
It can be disappointing to bite into a slice of undercooked pizza. An unevenly cooked pizza results in cooked toppings and undercooked dough. However, this can be corrected by simply lowering your oven rack closer to the bottom of the oven.
The hottest part of the oven is the top. Placing your pizza on the highest rack means the top of your pizza will cook first. The toppings will be cooked before the dough and can leave the dough raw, especially in the center.
Placing your pizza on a cold metal baking tin can improve your chances of having a raw dough pizza. The cold temperature of the tin transfers to the bottom of your dough, resulting in a longer cooking time for the dough compared to the pizza’s toppings.
Lowering your oven rack allows the dough to cook more evenly and prevents your toppings from being overcooked. Alternatively, you could reduce the temperature in your oven. The pizza will cook slower, but the dough will be cooked, and the toppings will not be overcooked or burned.
How Can You Tell if Pizza Dough Is Undercooked?
Before you bite into your pizza, you can check to see if the pizza has been thoroughly cooked. To make sure there is no raw dough on your pizza, check the bottom of the pizza by carefully lifting up the pizza and looking at the bottom. If your crust is golden brown on the bottom, you have a nicely cooked pizza. If your crust is white on the bottom, it has not been cooked long enough.
Pizza Fixing FAQ
Many common pizza problems can be easily fixed if you are aware of what is causing the problem. The most common pizza dough problems revolve around issues with the dough’s texture. With a few tips and tricks, you can resolve your soggy, chewy, or stiff dough issues. You can even find ways to produce a crisp pizza crust without risking the pizza toppings being burned.
How to Fix Soggy Pizza?
The cause of soggy pizza is multiple wet topping ingredients being piled on the dough. Too many wet ingredients will generate a gum line where moisture seeps into the pizza.
Many fruits can help create a gum line on your pizza. Tomatoes and pineapple chunks, when cooked, will release water. This is not too harmful unless you are including an abundance of these ingredients on your pizza. To prevent this water release, you can precook your topping ingredients. Precooking your wet ingredients, when possible, can help you avoid a soggy pizza.
The root of a soggy pizza is the sauce. Sometimes your sauce can be too watery overall. You can fix watery sauce by either avoiding thing sauces or straining out moisture if you use a chunkier sauce. This should leave you with a thicker, more concentrated sauce that will be less likely to produce a soggy pizza.
Why Is My Pizza Dough Chewy?
There are a couple of reasons why your pizza dough may be chewy. One reason for chewy pizza is the weight of your pizza dough not being uniform. There is not enough dough to create a thick enough crust. This results in a thinner center.
With an extremely thin dough center, the heat coming from the bottom of the pizza travels through the dough, creating steam as it comes in contact with the sauce. As a result, the dough is not completely baked and creates a chewy consistency.
You can determine whether this is the cause of your chewy pizza by increasing the amount of dough you use when making your crust.
Another cause of a chewy pizza is rolling out the dough too much. This can lead to the dough being deflated if not left to sit for half an hour before baking. As a result, the heat passes through the bottom of the pizza, and the dough remains raw in places.
The final reason your dough could be chewy is that there is not enough yeast in your dough formula. This can happen if your dough was stored at a warmer temperature and make the dough over-ferment.
How Do You Soften Hard or Tough Pizza Dough?
If you know why your dough is too hard, you can correct the problem. The following can cause your dough to be stiff:
- Baking the dough too long
- Not adding enough water
- Rolling the dough as opposed to stretching it
- Introducing too much flour in the kneading process.
The first way to produce softer dough is to lower the amount of time your pizza is in the oven. You can accomplish this by pre-heating your oven completely so that your oven cooks at a higher temperature or by using a pizza stone.
The pizza stone is the best solution. With a pizza stone, you do not have to worry about the top half of the pizza cooking too fast.
Hydration is critical in producing a soft dough. Make sure your dough has a flour to water ratio of 70%. To see how much water you need to add to your dough, divide the water measurement by the flour measurement and multiply the answer by 100. If you do not inject enough water into the dough recipe, the dough will dry out during the cooking process.
To keep your dough soft, you will want to stretch the dough rather than roll it. Rolling will cause the air bubbles in the dough to dissipate. However, stretching the dough allows the air bubbles to stay in place, resulting in a more airy dough.
As for kneading, it is important to lightly dust your work area with flour. Move quickly to prevent the dough from sticking to the surface. This should help reduce the amount of flour you use when kneading.
How Do I Make My Dough Crispier Without Burning?
To get a crispier crust without burning your pizza, try baking the dough for 3 minutes before adding the sauce, cheese, or toppings. This prevents moisture from the sauce and toppings from seeping into the crust.
Several different things can result in your pizza crust being undercooked, but the most prevalent cause is having an uneven heat source. This can often be corrected by simply using a pizza stone or pizza steel and lowering the rack in your oven closer to the bottom.
So, whether you are baking a pre-made pizza or making your own from scratch, give some of the suggestions in this article a try. I think you will be pleased with the outcome.
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