Preparing for a Party -- Staging Your Pizza Crusts

I have had my Pizza oven since 2015, I was just wondering how people prepare for a party where you are serving 15 to 20 pizzas. I asked this back in 2015 and got 0 responses so I am trying it again. I am looking to make my life easier come party day. I am usually stuck in the kitchen rolling them out one at a time and then running to the oven and then dropping them on the table and then move on to the next one. Any tips on how to prepare for a party would be helpful

Peels - I have at least 12 peels I have made from birch plywood with a sizeing circle marked with magic marker. Rolling out ahead of time and then building pizzas a bit before guests. I find if it is a “wet” pizza that spraying a mist of olive oil on the shell before the sauce keeps them from getting soggy if they sit. Having tables or surfaces to keep them on and away from flies is the hassle. Good luck! Tom Howe (ImpossibleTom)

3 Likes

jjorah

I had a party with about 75 people. I found a local pastry and spice shop that sold frozen balls of Pizza dough. I tested the dough and found it very tasty. The dough was frozen and had to be thawed the 2 days before. We prepped our toppings the morning of the party. Initially we wanted to let people build their own pizzas but, realizing that we would have contamination of the toppings and people piling too many toppings on the pizza we needed to do something different.

My sister sister-in-law, Becky, stepped up and helped me out. She rolled out the dough and prepped the pizza’s for the guests. This kept the food from getting contaminated and ensured the toppings were not piled too high. All I had to do place the pizza in the oven, turn it and raise it to the ceiling to cook the center. Next, I pulled it out and placed it on a stone where once again Becky would cut it up for the guests. The next pizza was ready and I was able to place that in the oven to cook. The timing was perfect. Becky would get done just as I pulled the previous pizza out of the oven.

I made a Mattone Barile Grande oven with a partially closed front with a 17" opening. Because of this opening being so narrow I am unable to rotate more than one pizza in the oven at a time. But we were able to cook a 14" pizza every 5 minutes. We also had a table of fruits and vegetables and other snacks for the guests to take some of the pressure off everyone wanting pizzas at the same time.

I hope this helps. I’m so grateful I didn’t have to make all the pizza dough by myself. I don’t think I could have kept up. By having bought them from the local bakery already premade I saved myself a full days work.

Good luck and have fun. That’s what it’s all about.

1 Like

Welcome (back) to the bulletin boards!

No one wants to be stuck in the kitchen when all the action is out by your oven. If you’re rolling out dough (not everyone does), one big thing you could do for yourself is pick up one or two proofing boxes. I have this set, which included a dough scraper:

DoughMate

Usually you use these to let dough ferment in the refrigerator, but you could also use them to roll out your dough in advance. Flour the bottom of a tray, lay your dough in, and put a sheet of parchment paper or waxed paper on top of it. Repeat.

When you’re done, take the covered tray or trays out to your oven (where the action is happening, yes? :slight_smile: ). Now you’re lined up and ready to go: take out one rolled out crust, lay it on your peel, add toppings, and into the oven. You can start a second crust while the first is baking, be with your guests, and enjoy the party with everyone else.

The nice thing about the dough trays is that they’re not so deep that the crusts on the bottom will get compressed, but they will keep the outdoor air away from them.

With the right dough recipe, you can dispense with rolling altogether, and bring dough balls out in the same tray, stretch and toss them (wow!), and have each one on a peel in under a minute. The “wow!” in that sentence will come from your guests, who will get to enjoy both your expert pizzaiola skills and an authentic hand-tossed crust.

Great idea! You can never have enough peels.

That sounds great! The Mattone Barile Grande is practically a pizza production shop with an open mouth, but it sounds like you figured out how to feed 75 people in a hurry. I’m glad the local bakery’s dough was good. Our local Costco sells dough from a local bakery (and I live near New Haven, CT, the self-proclaimed Pizza Capital of North America), but it really wasn’t good at all.

Keep bringing those party tips, friends!

2 Likes

I gotta jump in w/ my Party tips… But keep in mind, I’m usually feeding a bunch of Lacrosse / Baseball kids and their parents, so I’m not looking to impress… just to fill hungry bellies.

  1. Have lots of pizza pans. Make sure the pans can fit inside the opening of your oven (incase you closed off the front of your oven). Here is link to our 14" pizza pans from American Metalcraft, but you can get them from WebstaurantStore.com

  2. After you roll out the dough, simply place the pans on a 15 Rack “Pan Tower”. This will hold the pans of dough (don’t add the toppings until you are ready to put the pizza in oven).

  3. If it’s a large party, don’t offer custom pizzas - at first. The smart way to feed a flock is to simply bake what’s popular and let people grab a slice or two of hot pizza (vs waiting for a “custom” pizza to be cooked). Holler-out what’s coming out of the oven “CHEESE”… “PEPPERONI & BLACK OLIVE”… This also gives your guests a chance to try different types of pizza toppings vs being stuck w/ 1 type of pizza.

  4. Don’t let anyone touch your peel at the start of the party. There is a bit of a fine art of baking a pizza, and most people that are touching a peel for the first time either push the pizza directly into the wood fire… or turn the pizza into a calzone (a pizza flipped over like an omelet).

  5. If you have to feed a lot of people fast - pre-bake the dough on the pans then put them back on the rack… You have just cut your cooking time in half. It’s cheating - but 8 year-olds aren’t as picky as their parents :slight_smile:

  6. HAVE FUN!

1 Like

Thanks for the advice everyone. I plan on buying all the stuff that was recommended, the dough trays will be the first on my list. No more cookie sheets.

1 Like

That’s a great “step 4”! I’ve practiced sliding pizzas in and out of the oven on a peel for about 6 years, and I still mess it up occasionally.

One consideration, though: if you have any left-over dough at the end of the bake (or if you are up for making more than strictly needed for the meal), you can be a hero to your guests and let them try their hand at sliding dough into the oven. Use common sense, of course, for safety’s sake. But how great would it be if one person at your party realized, “Hey! I can do that!”, and invited you to their place some day for pizza baked in the awesome Brickwood oven they built after being inspired by your generous gesture?

And remember, messed up crusts can be cleaned up simply by tipping hot coals over them and letting your oven do the work…

1 Like

One tip I ran across a few years ago is to sprinkle the peel with corn meal and place the pizza on top of the corn meal. It will help the pizza slide right off of the peel and add a bit of crunch to the crust.
The corn meal is a family favorite and secret I don’t share with guests. Never give up all your cooking secrets unless it’s to a fellow BrickWooder.

3 Likes

This season I’ve been using semolina or a 50/50 semolina and cornmeal or 50/50 semolina and 00 flour with good results too!

2 Likes

I’ve used this before and it really makes it easy to get the pizza off the peal. Another tip is to lift the pizza to near the roof for a few seconds before taking it out to finish off the toppings with the heat of the roof.

1 Like

Thanks for the tips, everyone! The job of getting a pizza into the oven is one of the few times where it’s okay to “let it slide…” :wink: