[Aimless Header]

[An 8.5-ounce dough ball stretched to about 12 inches]
[Pizza skin sauced and ready for cheese]
[Ready to slide the cheese pizza onto the hot pizza stone]
[Two minutes into baking]
[Four minutes into baking]
[About six minutes into baking at 500 degrees, the pizza is done.]
[Profile of a fully baked pizza]
[It'll be nice and crispy if you can hold it up like this]
How To Make The Best Pizza You'll Ever Taste

Update (9/21/12): I recently created Aimless Ryan's Pizza Blog, which is a million times more helpful than this page. The blog has lots of detailed instructions and lots of pictures, showing you how to make various different styles of pizza. Check it out; you'll be glad you did.

One of the reasons I created this page is to attract investors. I'm not just a pizza maker; I am one of the brightest minds in the pizza industry. I know how to make the best pizza on the planet. I know how to provide the best service you can find anywhere. I know how to attract new customers, then turn them into lifetime customers. And I know how to hire, train, and retain superstar employees. However, I don't have the resources to open my own pizzeria. Having spent the last several years of my life analyzing the pizza industry, figuring out what it takes to operate a successful pizzeria, I'm ready to let someone use me to turn their money into a lot more money. So if you're looking for someone who can do that for you, look no further. I am your man. If you want to find out more, call me at 614-738-3867.

There are a lot of words on this page, and mostly I have not "dumbed" anything down because it takes a lot of work to do anything great. If you want to make a great pizza, read this a couple times, then try it. It won't be easy right away, and you'll probably mess up the first time, but that's natural, so try again tomorrow. Then try again the next day; you'll get better.

[Pizza! The Movie]
If you haven't seen Pizza! The Movie, you're missing out on something great. Order your copy today at Pizza! The Movie. (By the way, I'm in it!)

Things You'll Need Before You Begin

The 3 most important things are:
  • All Trumps high gluten flour (Gold Medal)
  • San Marzano tomatoes in a can (Cento or LaValle brand)
  • Grande mozzarella
I've used a lot of different brands of ingredients, and nothing beats these brands for quality, consistency, taste, etc. Not even close. The ingredients make all the difference. The type of ingredient is less important than the brand. That is, part-skim vs. whole milk mozzarella doesn't matter much, whereas Grande vs. Kraft is the difference between night and day, good and evil.

Cheese from your nearby mega-zoo grocery store is almost always the worst quality stuff for the highest price. Grande mozzarella is simply the best pizza cheese you can get, and it is worth your time to look around at specialty stores to find it. The only place I know of right now that carries (and ships) Grande mozzarella in quantities smaller than a case is:

Vern's Cheese
312 West Main Street
Chilton, WI. 53014

You can purchase a 50-pound bag of All Trumps flour from your nearest food distributor. And yes, they will sell it to you, even if you are not affiliated with a restaurant. I used to pay about $13 for a 50-pound bag, but it may be closer to $30 nowadays. The distributor may also carry 25-pound bags. If you don't know what to do with 25 or 50 pounds of flour, store it in a clean 20-gallon trash container (like the small white one pictured near the top of this page).

Depending on where you live, you may be able to find real San Marzano tomatoes at your nearest grocery store. Only buy them if they say "San Marzano" AND have the seal of the Italian government, signifying that they are real San Marzanos. Cento "San Marzanos" are the real deal, unlike a lot of other brands that label their product "San Marzano." I don't care much for Cento's other products, but their San Marzanos are very good.

If you can't find either of the tomato brands I've suggested, just look for anything that says "Product of Italy" and "Whole Peeled Imported Italian Tomatoes" (or "Pomodori Pelati"). These tomatoes likely will be almost as good as the others I suggested. (In Columbus, Ohio you can find a bunch of different brands of tomatoes at Carfagna's, which is located on State Route 161, just east of I-71.)

Other Things You'll Need
  • 32 oz. scale
  • Wooden pizza peel (paddle)
  • Metal pizza peel
  • 15"-16" baking stone (for oven)
  • OR 13" baking stone (for grilll)
  • Chef's knife
  • Dough scraper
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Candy thermometer
  • Mixer, bread machine, or food processor with dough blade (not recommended)
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Oil (Optional. Because I change this page occasionally, oil may not be listed in the dough formula.)
  • 12" pizza screen (Optional. Buy a few.)


Now Let's Make A Pizza!

Dough Formula (Recipe)
oz All Trumps High Gluten Flour
oz Water (110 degrees)
pinch Sugar
tsp Salt

Procedures for making pizza dough
Part I. Preparing yeast water
  1. Remove yeast from fridge. (Or wherever you keep it. It should be in the fridge.)
  2. Place an empty, lightweight plastic bowl on your scale and reset the scale to 0.
  3. Fill a large, spouted measuring cup with 110-degree water, then pour 9.5 oz. of that water into the bowl on the scale. (If you don't have a scale, 9.5 ounces by weight is the same as 9.5 fluid ounces of water. Water is the only ingredient you can reliably measure by using either weight or volume.)
  4. Put a pinch or two of sugar in your mixing bowl.
  5. Pour about 1/3 of the measured water into your mixing bowl and "swish" it around to dissolve the sugar.
  6. Add 1 tsp of ACTIVE DRY YEAST to the sugar water and stir.

Part II. Scaling dry ingredients and mixing the dough
  1. Place a medium-sized plastic bowl on the scale and reset the scale to 0. Fill this bowl with 16 oz. of All Trumps flour. (If you don't have a scale, 16 oz. of All Trumps flour is equal to about 2.8 cups. Other flours have different densities, so if you're using something other than All Trumps, your dough may not turn out right.)
  2. After you've measured the flour, check the yeast water to see if it's beginning to foam. If it is, the yeast is fine and you can continue. If not, give it a few minutes. If it hasn't begun to foam after ten minutes, something is wrong. In such a case, the yeast is probably dead. (I've made thousands of pizzas, and I have never had that problem. If the yeast does not activate, you should buy new yeast and start over.)
  3. Add 1-1/4 tsp salt to the foamy yeast water.
  4. Pour the remaining 2/3 of the water (from Step 5 of Part I) into yeast water.
  5. Add 16 oz. flour to the mixing bowl.
  6. If using a KitchenAid stand mixer, mix on Speed 2 for about 1 minute, using the dough hook (preferably a spiral hook). At this point, stop the mixer and add oil to the dough.
  7. Once you've added the oil, resume mixing on Speed 2 for at least 10 minutes but not more than 15 minutes.

Part III. Scaling dough balls & waiting patiently
  1. When finished mixing, remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place it on your work surface. (This is a reasonably wet/soft dough, so you might want to sprinkle some flour on the surface first.)
  2. With a chef's knife or dough scraper, divide the dough into three 8.5-ounce pieces. Or divide it in half, making two 13-ounce(ish) pieces.
  3. Form each piece of dough into a tight, round dough ball. (This will probably take a lot of practice before you really know what you're doing. I may provide some pictures soon to demonstrate.)
  4. Place each dough ball into a small, lightly-oiled bowl and cover with lids or plastic wrap. (You could also put the dough in plastic bags or plastic wrap; just make sure to leave room for the dough to expand without escaping. There are several other ways you can store the dough; you'll figure out what you like best.)
  5. If you only intend to make one pizza, put two of the dough balls in the refrigerator immediately. They will be OK to use for at least a few days if stored properly.
  6. Keep the remaining dough ball at room temperature for at least 2 hours. (To speed things up a little, warm up your oven to about 110 degrees and keep the dough ball in the oven. Alternatively you could use more yeast--up to 2 tsp--but that willl shorten the life span of your refrigerated dough balls.)

Things to do while waiting for your dough to rise:
  • While the dough is rising (or proofing or fermenting), process your La Valle tomatoes in a food processor or blender. (I like to use several quick pulses, to leave the sauce pulpy.) If you want a chunkier sauce, chop the tomatoes with a knife or use a few quick pulses of the food processor.
  • VERY IMPORTANT: Until you have made at least a few pizzas, do not add anything to the tomatoes, because these are awesome tomatoes. If you have to add anything to your tomatoes, it's because you're using a crappy tomato product instead of what I suggested. Believe me, quality tomatoes do not need basil or oregano or garlic powder or sugar or salt or oil or anything! And do not cook the tomatoes, either. Don't even think about it!
  • Also, shred your Grande mozzarella while the dough is rising.

Procedures for making pizza
At least half an hour before you prepare your pizza, preheat your oven, with the baking stone on the lowest rack, to the oven's highest temperature setting. If using a gas grill, you can turn it on high just before you start preparing the pizza(s). (Originally the following instructions were meant for pizza on the grill, but grills are very unpredictable, so I've decided you should probably start out using your oven.)

Part I. Stretching the dough
  1. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface. (Use as much as you think you'll need; flour is cheap.)
  2. Place your 8.5-ounce dough ball on the floured surface and sprinkle a little more flour on top of the dough ball.
  3. Flatten the dough ball, using either your fingertips or your palms. (By using your fingertips you will end up with a lighter, more airy crust.) ABSOLUTELY DO NOT USE A ROLLING PIN!!! ROLLING PIN BAD BAD BAD!
  4. Make sure there is plenty of flour on the surface of the dough, then pick it up and stretch it, using your knuckles (as in the left picture below). Keep your hands near the outside of the dough or else you'll end up with a pizza that's paper thin in the middle and too thick on the outside. Then give it a toss if you dare. (To see another dough-stretching pic, visit the  Meet Ryan page.)
  5. Set the dough aside on your work surface for a moment.

[Split image with a pic of Ryan stretching dough and a pic of me tossing dough]

Part II. Assembling and baking your pizza
  1. Evenly distribute a few pinches of flour on your wooden pizza peel. (If you've never done this, you should sprinkle some cornmeal on the peel, too, because it is not easy for a beginner to slide a fully prepared pizza skin off of a peel and onto a stone.)
  2. If you've stretched your dough to a diameter of at least 10", place it on the floured area of your wooden pizza peel and pull the edges outward so everything is nice and comfy. (Leave it at 10" if you want, or stretch it all the way to 12". Either size will work fine. I've been making them 12" lately.)
  3. Spread enough sauce (3-4 oz.) on the dough to cover it almost to the edge.
  4. Spread 4-5 oz. of cheese over the dough and sauce. (Just make a cheese pizza the first few times. Keep it simple.)
  5. Pick up the pizza peel and give it a small, quick jerk to make sure the dough is not sticking to the peel.
  6. If everything seems good, go ahead and slide the pizza directly onto the hot stone in the oven. (This will not be easy at first. Just do your best and learn from the experience.)
  7. Depending on your oven and the temperature, it will take about 5-7 minutes for your pizza to fully cook. When all the cheese is bubbling and the crust looks good, your pizza is done.
  8. Slide a pizza peel (I prefer metal here) under your pizza and remove it from the oven.
  9. Cut the pizza and eat it.
One more thing...
Because Food Network has never produced a fully competent pizza-making instruction show, I am seriously thinking about making a video to demonstrate these pizza-making methods, as well as methods for making various other styles of pizza. I'd like to know if you would be interested in seeing such a video. Is it something you might be interested in buying (for about the same price as a pizza cookbook)? Please let me know via the contact page.
Aimless needs your help!
If you like what you've seen here, I humbly request that you send an e-mail to a friend, inviting him or her to Aimless. That's all I ask of you. You may not believe such a small favor can make much of a difference, but I know your cooperation could spark an intense snowball effect. I sincerely appreciate your assistance. Thank you.

Watch the Trailer

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