Pizza is a classic dish that is a favorite of almost everyone.
It is a great food to serve to guests as it can be very simple or very elaborate, depending on what you want. It is an ideal sharing dish and such a crowd-pleaser.
There is nothing more disappointing than biting into a slice of pizza only to discover that it is soggy.
We are here to take you through the causes of soggy dough and what steps you can take to counteract this happening.
Why Is My Pizza Soggy?
There are a number of different reasons for a soggy pizza. The most common reason is that you have baked the dough at the wrong temperature or in the wrong manner.
Different pizza styles require different temperatures and cooking methods, so what works for one may not work for another.
Neapolitan pizza is often cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven at a temperature of approximately 900 degrees Fahrenheit.
In contrast, New York-style pizza tends to be baked at about 600 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit in a brick oven.
Another reason for a soggy pizza could be due to a poorly made dough. The dough could be made using incorrect ingredients, or more likely, the wrong ratios.
This feeds into the hydration level of the dough, something we will go into more detail about later.
Finally, your pizza might turn out to be soggy due to being overloaded with toppings. Too much sauce or cheese can release a lot of liquid as the pizza bakes.
This then seeps into the cooking dough underneath, where the moisture is absorbed and the pizza becomes soggy.
Hydration Level Of The Dough
This refers to the relative concentrations of flour to water in your pizza dough. The ideal pizza dough will be around 75% hydration.
This will prompt a multitude of gas bubbles to form during the baking process. This will make your dough aerated and chewy with the perfect balance of flavors.
A dough with this level of hydration will be sticky but still workable. It will be able to hold its structure alone, meaning the pizza will not become deformed as it is transferred into and out of the oven.
In order for the yeast to work adequately inside the dough, it must be allowed to ferment and prove.
This is better when allowed to happen slowly over an elongated period of time. The longer that the dough is allowed to ferment, the deeper the flavor and the stronger the dough will be.
You can choose to allow your dough to ferment anywhere from 6 hours at room temperature to 2 days in the refrigerator.
You should take cues from the look and feel of your dough, instead of the clock. It will likely take a lot of trial and error before you find the optimal conditions for your pizza dough.
You should ensure you lightly grease the container that your dough is fermenting in, as well as the exterior surface of your dough.
This will prevent it from sticking to the container and ensures the structure is not damaged when you tip the dough out. It will also stop a tough and dry skin from forming on the dough’s surface.
This can alter the final texture and structure of your pizza, so take steps to avoid it where possible.
The temperature of both the water in the dough and the environment inside your home will change the time the dough must ferment for.
At cooler temperatures, the fermentation process will slow down and the dough will have a much longer rise time. The opposite is true at warmer temperatures.
There are a number of different manners in which you can bake your pizza for the ultimate crispness.
These include a pizza stone, a baking steel, a baking sheet, cast iron pans, or unglazed tiles. We will go into more detail about each method below.
Whatever option you choose to go for, you should allow the surface to heat up sufficiently in the oven before topping with your pizza.
This will allow the surface to take on the heat from the oven and will improve the overall bake on your pizza.
This is the best way to simulate a traditional pizza oven from the comfort of your own home. They can be found in most homeware stores and typically cost less than $30.
This is a great place to start with your home pizza-making journey. They also have a lot of natural perforation.
This allows steam generated during the cooking process to escape instead of condensing, resulting in a crispier pizza.
Pizza stones are preheated in your oven and will retain the heat for a long time. This will help your pizza to bake from underneath more evenly and quickly.
This stone needs to be preheated for 45 minutes to an hour before you begin to cook your pizza.
This is also sometimes referred to as a pizza steel. This is the best choice if you are aiming for a crispy pizza base as it can reach very high temperatures.
Metal is a hugely conductive material and will help to make your pizza as crispy as it can be.
This steel should be allowed to preheat in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour before you try to cook the pizza. Your oven should be set to the hottest temperature possible for the best results.
This has a fairly similar effect to using a pizza stone. Baking trays are typically made from aluminum which will not give you the best results.
To improve this, we recommend stacking multiple baking trays together to create a heavier, denser surface.
To use this method, turn the baking tray(s) the wrong way up and place them on the middle shelf of your oven.
Allow them to warm up in the oven for at least 30 minutes before placing your pizzas on the top to cook.
Iron is a highly conductive metal and heats up to extreme temperatures very evenly.
This makes for an ideal cooking surface. We recommend leaving the pan in the preheated oven for at least 30 minutes before trying to cook the pizza.
This is a circular baking tray designed specifically for baking pizzas. The tray has a number of holes in the base, which can help to improve the crispness of your pizza crust.
This occurs as the steam created during the baking process has a space to evaporate, instead of just condensing on the underside of your base.
If you are allowing your pizza to cool in the pizza pan, we recommend placing it on a wire rack as you do so.
This will keep the air channels open for steam to evaporate, ensuring that your pizza base does not become soggy.
One of the most vital elements of cooking a crispy pizza is the baking temperature. A high cooking temperature will help the water in the pizza evaporate, making for a crispier resulting pizza.
If your oven does not get as hot as you would like it to, a way around this is to leave the pizza in for longer.
A lower, slower bake will achieve the same crispy results as a hot and fast one if you manage to time it correctly.
If you leave the pizza in the oven for too long then the crust will begin to dry out and become unappetizing. We recommend cooking your pizza at the hottest temperature that your oven allows.
There are only 4 ingredients in a traditional pizza dough. These are flour, water, salt, and yeast.
There are a range of strong opinions on the correct type of flour to use, however many people opt for a 00 flour. This is the industry standard and is a fairly finely ground.
To make a crispier pizza, a good hack is to incorporate a little oil into the dough. This conducts heat incredibly well and will help your dough to become crispier and to bake much more rapidly.
This is not ideal for commercial pizza ovens as the temperatures are too high and the crust will burn.
In your home oven, temperatures will be much more limited and this is a great hack to achieve a crispy pizza.
We recommend starting to incorporate the oil into your dough at a ratio of 3%. This means that for every kilogram of flour in your dough, you will use 30 g of oil.
Incorporating less oil than this will mean the dough is less conducive (it will heat up and cook more slowly). Incorporating more oil than this will make it cook more rapidly.
If you continue to add more oil, you will eventually change the makeup of the dough and it can more closely resemble cookies or pie crust instead.
Stretching The Dough
It is important to stretch your dough out very thinly if you are after a crispy pizza. The thicker the dough, the longer it will take to bake, and the chewier the crust is likely to be.
The ideal dough thickness is about ⅛ to ¼ inch thick. This will ensure that it is thin enough to become crispy, but not so thin that it tears or burns.
You should try to choose your toppings carefully, as this is one of the biggest ways that moisture is introduced to your pizza.
It is a good idea to limit the volume of tomato sauce that you top your dough with. The more viscous the sauce, or the more sauce that is used, the soggier your pizza is likely to be.
This is because it will take a long time for the moisture to evaporate in the oven, by which time your pizza will likely be burnt.
Some people opt to boil off their pizza sauce before using it to top their dough.
This allows excess moisture to evaporate before it even enters the oven, preventing the liquids from seeping into the pizza crust.
The next big source of moisture is the cheese. Many people refuse to entertain the possibility of a pizza without cheese, so here are some steps you can take to limit the moisture.
If you have purchased fresh mozzarella to use on your pizza, you will notice that it comes submerged in a liquid. We advise draining this off a few hours in advance and wrapping the drained cheese in a paper towel.
This will allow the moisture to slowly seep out before it touches your pizza. Some people will take it a step further than this.
Once the mozzarella has been unwrapped you can cut it up and place it, uncovered, in your refrigerator for a couple of hours. This will allow the cheese to dry out even further.
Generally speaking, the higher the fat content of your cheese, the more moisture will be introduced into your dough. This will result in a layer of grease forming on the surface.
Not only is this unpleasant to eat, but it can also cause your crust to become soggy.
This is because the grease prevents water from evaporating off the surface of the pizza during baking, forcing it back into the dough.
Other ingredients that release a lot of moisture during cooking are vegetables and fatty foods such as pepperoni.
While you do not need to avoid these completely (where would we be without pepperoni on pizza), we do recommend limiting the amount that you choose to top your pizza with.
Some people find a way around this by pre-cooking some of their pizza toppings. This is great for thick meats that may not cook adequately in the short cooking time of the pizza crust.
For vegetables that release a lot of water, this is also a good idea as it allows you to drain off as much of the moisture as possible before it comes close to the pizza.