Friday, December 7, 2012

Some Like it Hot – How to pick your perfect pizza maker


Most of us have accepted that we can’t compete with the pizza industry; we don’t import our tomatoes from the fertile volcanic soil of Pompeii, we don’t have the equipment to reach 400°C without serious injury, we don’t have the skill to knead and toss a pizza or the time and energy to do it. We’re poor, talentless and lazy. Besides, pizza delivers. Pizza’s a party food and not for every day, right? Wrong! Behold! A new range of electrical appliances to save the common man a whole heap of time and effort, while allowing us to become chef de cuisine extraordinaire for a night.

So if you haven’t already started building your pizza oven, brick by brick in the backyard, I suggest you take advantage of the new electric pizza maker products that have erupted onto the scene (á la Vesuvius). There are a range of different brands to choose from but most of the brands (bar Breville) are not familiar to the Australian shopper, so you need to instead, ensure you’re getting a product which has all the best features to create your marinara in the Napolitano style.

A stone base is essential for the even distribution of heat. As with a regular oven, the top will always cook before the bottom - unless you’re smart enough to prebake your base, you will end up with a smoky top and soggy bottom and Nona would not approve. A pizza stone will retain the heat of the oven, cooking the bottom at a faster rate and evenly throughout to ensure you’re base is bubbly crisp. As well as the crispy goodness of a stone, pizza ovens should have a dual heating element top and bottom to ensure that it is cooked both sides. If you’re not inclined to splurge on a pizza maker in the first place (as they are expensive, and a large appliance) just buy yourself a pizza stone and use your regular oven, this is a pretty good alternative for your regular pizza lover.

However, if you are like me, a pizza aficionado, and if you need it in 5 and not 20, we’re back on the path of the Electric Pizza Maker. The next important thing to ensure is that you get a pizza maker that goes to a solidly hot temperature. A regular conventional oven will get to around 250° so you obviously need to make sure you buy a product with a hotter temperature than this.  Most pizza ovens stand at around 300° but I would recommend finding one that reaches 350°, and there are even a few rare ones out there that reach 400°. These should cook a whole pizza in less than six minutes depending. The rule goes: the hotter the better, traditional pizzas in Naples can be cooked in temperatures of up to 900° and ready in 1 minute. Be aware, most of these bad boys have an exposed outer rim which will reach up to 100° so try and get a pizza maker that has a fully covered handle to save accidents. I would also try to get a compact and attractive model as they are quite large appliances and might have to live on your bench depending on your storage situation.

If you like pizza, it’s probably not worth the effort, expense or hassle of cooking your own, so I suggest continue collecting those mailed coupons. But if you are really and truly a pizzaiola at heart, a devoted lover, admirer and soul mate of the slice, then you can’t really be without one. They create perfectly delicious pizzas, as good as any nearby restaurant and in the time it takes them to process the order.



If a bench-top pizza maker doesn't light your fire, there are lots of solutions for extreme bakers, both inside and out. See our articles on firing up your backyard:

And if you're looking for the best kitchen appliance (and pizza oven) suppliers, look no further - Complete Home is a fantastic source

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