My pizza dough is too gooey and under-cooked in the middle

Q: I recently completed my pizza oven and its awesome. I cooked pizza in it last Saturday for the first time, and it went ok, but I really need some pointers to make the experience a little better.

I got the oven up to 700° (I tried to follow the directions on heating the oven) but the pizza cooked extremely slow, and I wasn’t able to get the crust crispy. It seemed to stay doughy.

A: First… the oven needs to be hotter (more fire wood) - around 900°+.

And second, the doughy dough is a rookie mistake we ALL make. The dough is too thick. Wood fired pizza ovens require thinner dough - and go easy on the toppings. This ain’t a Chicago deep dish! Wood fired ovens use thin dough / crust and a decent (but not overdone) amount of toppings.

We Americans are accustomed to large Papa Murphy or Costco size pizzas… thick dough, heavy sauce, lots of toppings and extra cheese (that also require lots of baking time). But in a wood-fired oven, you want to keep your dough on the thin side and keep your sauce and toppings light. This way, your dough (and the pizza center) is always baked to a perfectly crispy crust that only a real wood-fired pizza oven - using real firewood oven can deliver. Don’t focus on making 2 or 3 large pizzas… try to make 8 - 12 thin and crispy wood-fired pizzas with different toppings.

Here’s a GREAT recipe for delicious Neapolitan Pizza Dough!

Another tip: if you want to learn how to make a dough that practically stretches and shapes itself, you need this book. Ken Forkish (really, that’s his name!) is the FWSY (Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast) bread baking guy. His pizza dough recipes are simple, depending more on time than on kneading or lots of ingredients. Make his “24 to 48 hour Dough” with a good pizza flour designed for the high heat of your wood-fired oven, and your pies will be second-to-none.