Food & Drink

4 easy tips for making perfect pizza

Figs, prosciutto, smoked mozarella and arugula are featured in The Pig and the Fig pizza, crafted as part of an “Art of Artisan Pizza” cooking class at Refugio Kitchen in Paso Robles.
Figs, prosciutto, smoked mozarella and arugula are featured in The Pig and the Fig pizza, crafted as part of an “Art of Artisan Pizza” cooking class at Refugio Kitchen in Paso Robles. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

SLO County cookbook author Brigit Binns offers her best pro tips for making artisan pizza. (Rule No. 1: Never pat the dough!) Binns leads various hands-on cooking classes in Paso Robles' Refugio Kitchen program.

Central Coast cookbook author Brigit Binns knows a thing or two about pizza.

The author of 2008’s “Pizza and Other Savory Pies,” she teaches students how to make perfect hand-crafted pies in her “Art of Artisan Pizza” class, part of a series of Refugio Kitchen courses she offers in Paso Robles. Her calamari and chorizo pizza, complete with caramelized fennel and shaved manchego cheese, even landed on the cover of Wine Enthusiast magazine.

Here are a few tips from Binns on making amazing pizza.

Be gentle: Binns’s cold-fermented pizza dough has to be handled delicate to preserve the big air bubbles that give it structure and flavor. “Resist the urge to pat” or press the dough, she said. Instead, gently stretch it out with your knuckles until you have a paper-thin base and a puffy corniche, or, rim — letting the weight of the dough do most of the work.

Rice is nice: Use rice flour to shape and form your dough. It’s less absorbant than wheat flour, which can dry out the dough as it rests and, later, dry the crust as it cooks.

Get corny: A liberal sprinkling of cornmeal under the dough is key to preventing your pizza from sticking to the wooden peel and failing to slide into the oven.

Think outside the (pizza) box: A pizza doesn’t need tomato sauce or cheese to be spectacular. Whether you stick the classics or take a more creative approach, go light on the toppings to let the simple beauty of the crust shine through.

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