If you have spent time crafting a beautiful pizza dough, lovingly choosing your favourite pizza toppings and then waiting for your pizza to cook in the oven, you will be terribly disappointed if the end result is not what you expected.
One of the biggest issues is that even if your follow your pizza dough recipe to a T, your pizza base comes out of the oven undercooked. This is a huge disappointment but quite often, the reason is to do with the temperature of the baking surface. This is why all professional pizza chefs use pizza stones.
In this article, we will be giving you some helpful tips on how to fix undercooked pizza dough, so that next time you take your pizza out of the oven, you can feel confident that you won’t have a problem.
How Can You Tell If Pizza Dough Is Undercooked?
Sometimes, you may not realise that your pizza isn’t cooked properly until you take a bite of the pizza crust. However, it is pretty easy to determine whether the pizza dough is undercooked by looking at the bottom of the pizza.
Typically, when it is cooked correctly, the pizza base will be crisp and golden brown. If there are any raw patches, this is a sign that you have undercooked pizza dough and you may need to think about how you are cooking your pizzas.
Furthermore, there is a term in the pizza work known as gum line; this refers to a gummy, gooey layer between the tomato sauce and toppings and the pizza base. This is formed when the pizza is loaded with cold toppings or cheese and then cooked from the underside in a raging hot oven. For this reason, it is always advisable to leave your ingredients at room temperature for a little bit before cooking.
Why Do I Always Get Undercooked Pizza Dough?
It can be hugely frustrating to find that you have an undercooked, soggy pizza that is a million miles away from anything you expected. But you aren’t alone, this is one of the most common pizza problems.
In the main, the issue lies in the oven temperature or the temperature of the cooking surface. Furthermore, this problem is often caused because the pizzas are not left in the pizza oven for long enough.
The key to getting a great pizza crust that is fluffy inside and crispy on the outside is to blast it with high temperatures for a short time. Let’s take a closer look at each way your pizza may be ending up being undercooked.
Pizza Oven Is Not Hot Enough
Usually, pizzas are cooked in a pizza oven. As they go through the cooking process, heat is delivered from under the pizza as well as radiating around it. The oven cooks it from underneath, giving you a beautiful pizza base as well as from around it, melting the cheese and cooking the toppings.
However a lot of us don’t have the luxury of a pizza oven and that’s OK, you don’t need to have one to enjoy delicious homemade pizza. You can use the home ovens found in kitchens across the world. But, you will need to try to mimic the conditions of a wood-fired oven as best as your can. More on how to fix this issue later.
Baking Surface Is Not Hot Enough
Another issue is that the bottom of the pizza is not being exposed to enough heat. Pizza baking is something of an art but most of the time, the issue is in the equipment you are using.
A baking sheet is never going to be enough to effectively cook the bottom of the pizza while still allowing the radiating heat to cook the time in the same amount of time. Home ovens do not get anywhere near as hot as pizza ovens and this can be part of the problem.
A baking sheet is normally made from aluminum or steel which does not hold heat very well. This means that even if the tray is pre-heated, it still wouldn’t get hot enough to be cooked from top to bottom in your home oven.
Cooking Time Is Too Short
As a general rule, rather than increasing the time you leave your pizza in the oven, you should aim to increase the temperature. This is a type of food that requires a high heat source rather than a lengthy cooking time and this is the reason that a lot of people struggle to get their pizzas just right.
When you make pizza, your aim is typically to achieve a crust that is fluffy on the inside while being crispy on the outside. This is much better achieved with a hot temperature and quick cooking time. That being said, you don’t want to take the pizza out too early and undo all of your hard work that went into preparing the pizza dough.
Too Many Toppings
One of the greatest things about pizza is that there are so many choices when it comes to toppings. You can create any flavor profile you fancy and enjoy a meal that it totally tailored to your taste. However, too many toppings on top of the pizza can often be a cause of soggy pizza that is undercooked and not very appetising.
For the most part, people put too much pizza sauce on the pizza dough and this results in the dough becoming overly moist. The reason that your crust and base go so crispy in the oven is because much of the water is removed; this will cause that mouth-watering texture we all know and love. However, too much sauce can take it in the opposite direction and you are left with soggy pizza.
In another case, you might put too many toppings on the pizza and especially those that contain a lot of water will cause that water to go into the pizza dough. Fewer toppings means less water and less water means a more crispy crust.
If you are making a thick crust pizza then of course, the dough is going to need to be a little thicker, this is what will help to create that beautiful fluffy crust. However, there are a lot of pizza styles such as the Neapolitan pizza that are very thin. Is there a reason for this? The answer may seem obvious; it is to prevent too much moisture in the dough allowing it to cook much more evenly and easily.
Even when you are making a thicker pizza, you should be mindful not to make the dough too thick as this is likely to have an adverse effect. If you follow the instructions on your recipe, you will likely find that you get it right.
How Do You Fix Undercooked Pizza Dough?
Now that we understand why our pizza dough is not cooking thoroughly, it becomes a lot clearer as to how we can fix it. Of course, making sure that your dough is the correct thickness is the first port of call. Secondly, you will want to make sure that you don’t overload your toppings or tomato sauce. While you can use any combination to make a unique pizza with a taste that you will love, be sure to keep it to a minimum and just put a few things on top.
Aside from this, we need to consider the cooking process and while we now understand the right cooking conditions, let’s take a look at some tips to help with this a bit more.
Getting An Even Bake
So, if you do not have access to a wood-fired oven, the best way to avoid pizza problems like being undercooked is to replicate the conditions in your kitchen oven.
Rather than just letting the hot temperature come from the bottom of the oven, turn on the grill or broiler which produces heat from the top of the oven. This gives you the chance to cook the bottom of your pizza as well as providing plenty of heat to the top to melt the cheese and cook the toppings.
One important thing to remember is that you should place your oven rack as close to the top of the appliance as possible. This is because the grill heat can’t travel as far.
Using A Pizza Stone Or Pizza Steel
A pizza stone or a pizza steel is imperative in the baking of pizza at home. All the top pizza chefs in the world use a pizza stone and this allows you to give your pizza dough an instant blast of heat from the moment it goes into the appliance.
A pizza steel is designed to work in your home oven and will yield excellent results however, a pizza stone will be the best way to mimic the conditions seen in wood-fired ovens. That being said, a steel is typically easier to clean and more lightweight. Both will help to create a crispy base and crust by sending heat through the dough from underneath.
But whichever option you choose, it is vital that you pre heat the pizza stone or steel before placing the pizza onto it. If you keep it at room temperature, the cooking process will be dramatically slowed down. Just put the pizza stone onto the oven rack and leave it in for 30 minutes to reach the right temperature.
You should make sure that you check out your oven settings if your dough keeps coming out undercooked.
You will need to make sure that you place your pizza in the center of the oven and the more quickly you can cook it, the better. As we have discovered, pizza needs to be cooked from the bottom to get a nice crisp crust but also will benefit from radiating heat. In order to achieve the perfect cook, make sure that you set the appliance to a hot temperature and reduce the cooking time. This is preferable to cooking for longer at a lower heat.
That being said, always ensure that you leave the food for long enough to avoid undercooked dough.
How Do You Soften Pizza Dough?
From time to time, you may also find that your dough is too hard. You might be tempted to start adding copious amounts of water but as we have learned, this won’t help the cooking process and could result in the dough being undercooked if there is too much moisture.
Instead, you can add a few drops of olive oil to the dough. This is the best way as it will hydrate the dough without making it too moist. Don’t go crazy right away though, add a little and knead the dough. If you find it is still too hard, you can add a little more olive oil and repeat the process.
It is then important to let the dough rest for a while before attempting to stretch and bake it.
Is It Safe To Eat Undercooked Pizza Dough?
If you have taken your pizza out of the oven only to realise that you have cold dough, you might be tempted to eat it anyway. But this might not be a good idea.
There are bacteria found in flour which can cause food poisoning. These germs are killed as you cook the pizza but if the dough is undercooked, some may remain. So always make sure that you fully cook the dough.
Making yummy dough for your pizza at home is a very rewarding experience, however, sometimes you may find that the dough comes out undercooked and not only is this not safe, it can also be very unpleasant to eat.
But don’t panic! The cause is likely down to the cooking temperature and by adjusting this and ensuring that your pizza is cooked on a pre-heated steel or stone in a hot oven, you will achieve perfectly cooked pizza every time!