How many types of pizza are there? The answer is that there are probably thousands of combinations. There are different pizza crusts, different pizza sauces, and a vast array of toppings to choose from.
Here is a closer look at some of the more common types of pizza:
BRICK OVEN PIZZA – a wood fired brick oven gives a special flavor to pizza. Brick ovens are for baking Neapolitan style pizzas. Brick oven pizzas are only about ten inches in diameter, thin and light on toppings since they are meant to bake in just a minute or two.
CHICAGO STYLE PIZZA – this is a deep-dish pizza, which was invented in Chicago. An authentic Chicago pizza will have a buttery crust, plenty of tomato sauce and generous cheese. Some Chicago style pizzas have stuffed crusts.
DEEP DISH PIZZA – this was invented in 1943 in Chicago and features a thick bread crust, which can be an inch or more deep.
FRENCH BREAD PIZZA – this is French bread cut in half and topped with pizza toppings as an alternative to using a dough pizza crust.
GREEK PIZZA – Greek pizza features an herby base and tasty toppings including mushrooms, broccoli, onion, tomatoes, olives, bell peppers, manouri cheese, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil.
GRILLED PIZZA – pizza cooked on the grill. Usually the dough is rolled out to the right shape and baked first, then it is flipped over, the toppings are added and it finishes cooking in a closed grill.
ITALIAN PIZZA – an oven baked, flat, round bread covered with tomato sauce and mozzarella. Other toppings can be added, depending on the region.
NEW YORK STYLE PIZZA – this pizza is known for its thin, wide slices. Traditional toppings include mozzarella and tomato and this pizza is light on sauce. The thin, crispy, hand tossed crust is made from high gluten flour and it is common to fold the pizza slices to eat them. New York pizza is made in a coal burning oven which is cooler than a brick oven so the pizza takes longer to cook and can be much bigger.
PAN PIZZA – pan pizza has a much thicker crust than many other kinds of pizza and comes with a variety of toppings.
SICILIAN PIZZA – Sicilian thick crust pizza is one of the most popular pizza varieties. This pizza originates from Palermo in Sicily. Pecorino cheese and anchovies are used on a traditional Sicilian pizza. In the United States, a Sicilian pizza is square and has a very thick crust.
STUFFED CRUST PIZZA – a relatively new invention, stuffed crust pizza means that the outer rim of the crust is stuffed with cheese.
THICK CRUST PIZZA – some pizzas feature a thick crust. Usually the dough is left to rise for an hour or more in the baking process to result in this type of bread-like crust.
THIN CRUST PIZZA – a thin crust pizza might or might not contain yeast. Thin crust pizza has a crispy, crunchy crust.
VEGETARIAN PIZZA – most pizza dough recipes are vegetarian and there are many different vegetarian pizza toppings to choose from. Vegetarian pizza is available from all major pizza outlets.
WHITE PIZZA – no tomato sauce is used on a white pizza. Instead, pesto or dairy products such as sour cream are used. The toppings on a white pizza are often just cheeses and the pizza can be drizzled with olive oil, fresh basil, and garlic.
One of the burning questions that probably keep you up at night is: why do pizza bakers shape their dough into balls prior to stretching, topping and baking?
Above all, it’s much easier to fashion a round crust from a round ball of dough than from anything else. But even apart from that, it makes sense to have a point in your process where you measure out the exact amount of dough you want to use, and “package” it for the final stretching / baking step. This step is a transition from the dough making phase to the baking phase. You can clean up the dough mess, put away the dough making tools, and start prepping the oven and toppings. And if you are making pizza for guests, or are guest at someone else’s house where you bake (always preferable to bringing already-baked pies and use a Californo mobile pizza oven), this is a good place to stop before you let your guests arrive or before you travel. Make the balls, store them in a container, and stretch/top/bake later.
It is during this step that you decide how big you want your pizza to be (not during stretching), by measuring out the appropriate amount of dough. And yes, it absolutely makes sense to accurately measure the dough by weight, instead of eyeballing it. If you want, you can skip the weighing, but your crusts might end up varying more than you will like. Weighing will ensure you can turn out crusts of a consistent size and thickness (and consequently, baking qualities for a perfect crust). Baking constant size pies is also nice because you can make them fit exactly to your baking pans / screens and serveware (for instance, everything I own is made for 14″ pies).
I suppose there are many ways to shape a dough ball, and I’m showing here just one way to do it. I use a combination of pulling & folding movements to make the dough come together in a round ball shape. At first the ball will be on its back, but around halfway through I flip it over, then finish up by folding / tucking under more dough to get the shape really nice and round. Be firm and swift, but work with the dough, not against it. You want to try and handle it gently, so you don’t knock all the air out of it.
1 kg of room temperature dough, enough for two pizzas (which is why I cut it in two pieces first). This is not fridge dough but a faster, non-refrigerated dough (you’ll have to watch the full video to see the exact recipe :), but when I do use fridge dough (and I do most of the time), I usually use 500-540 grams of it for a 14″ pizza. I use scissors and a scale to measure out the amount I need from my dough bucket:
When the dough balls are done, they are allowed to rest again before baking. If you will bake soon (say, within 15 minutes to an hour), you can do the same as I do in the video, and wrap the balls in a well floured kitchen towel. If you don’t plan on baking them very soon, you can keep them in an oiled container in the fridge, so you can bake at a later time (this is what pizzerias usually do). Ideally, you should let refrigerated dough come fully to room temperature prior to shaping (ie. wait 1 – 2 hours), but this is not strictly necessary. Just keep in mind that the cooler the dough, the harder it will push back against your shaping efforts. A room temperature dough, on the other hand, will be supple and easy to shape.