Pizza Terms – Glossary

Every pizza word you need to know on one page! After reading this you'll be able talk the talk and of course walk the walk! The pizza walk, or something like that.

Baker’s Yeast/Cake Style Yeast

Baker's yeast is a solid form of yeast usually found in small cubes wrapped in foil. It is also available in larger blocks for commercial use.

Cake yeast is becoming less common due to its perishable nature. Many bakers are now turning to dried yeast instead.

Dough Scraper/Bench Scraper

A dough scraper or bench scraper is a tool much like a wall scraper (often actually a wall scraper) used for handling dough and preventing it from sticking to the work surface.

Dough Scrapers/Bench Scrapers are also very useful for clearing up and removing flour from the work surface.

Fermentation

Fermentation occurs as the yeast in dough becomes active, this is what causes the rising of dough, or proving. Fermentation greatly improves the texture and flavour of dough. Typically, longer fermentation/proving times are desired as they further improve the flavour and texture of the final dough.

Fior di latte

Fior di latte is an Italian fresh milk cheese (similar to mozzarella) made with cow’s milk. Fior di latte is generally kept in a brine solution (salt water) in order to preserve it.

The cheese has a creamy flavour with a soft texture and the high moisture content allows for exceptional melting properties.

Instant Dried Yeast

Instant Dried Yeast is a commonly available yeast that can be found in most supermarkets.

Dried yeast is an extremely useful ingredient to have as it keeps for a long time and can be used in most recipes. The difference when compared to baker's yeast is generally seen as being negligible.

Laser/Infrared Thermometer

A laser thermometer utilises infrared radiation in order to determine the temperature of a surface. The readily available domestic laser thermometers can easily measure temperatures up to 500 degrees celcius (the temperature required for Neapolitan pizza).

Laser/Infrared thermometers are perfect for determining the temperature of the stone or steel in a pizza oven. This enables much more consistent cooking of pizza at home.

Mozzarella

Mozzarella is an Italian fresh milk cheese, traditionally made with Buffalo’s milk. Mozzarella is generally kept in a brine solution (salt water) in order to preserve it.

The cheese has a creamy flavour with a soft texture and the high moisture content allows for exceptional melting properties, making it perfect for pizzas. The mozzarella more commonly found today is typically made from cow’s milk and is technically fior di latte, not mozzarella.

Neapolitan Pizza

Neapolitan Pizza is a pizza made in the style of those originating in Naples, Italy.

The pizza is cooked at very temperatures (up to 500 degrees celcius) for a short amount of time (60 – 90 seconds) in a wood fired oven using authentic ingredients and traditional dough recipes.

A Neapolitan pizza (pizza Napolena/Napoli) is characterised by a thin base with puffy crusts, and patches of charring from the flames. Neapolitan style pizzas can also be cooked in a home pizza ovens.

Neapolitan Pizza Dough

Neapolitan pizza dough is made for making Neapolitan pizza and consists of only flour, water, salt, and a very small amount of yeast. Neapolitan Pizza Dough is quite dry (usually 55% - 60% of the flour’s weight), which enables it to be stretched out thinly and aides in the cooking which happens at very high temperatures (up to 500 degrees celcius).

No additions such as oil and sugar are used, only salt to taste (about 2% of the flour weight). The very small amount of yeast used results in a long fermentation (proving/rising) time of around 24 – 48 hours, which leads to a superior flavour and texture.

Ooni/Uuni Pizza Oven

Ooni (formerly Uuni) is a brand that designs and manufactures domestic pizza ovens. They offer a range of ovens, utilising various types of fuel, including gas and wood pellets.

Every Ooni oven is capable of reaching very high temperatures in order to cook Neapolitan pizza. Most of the ovens they offer are very portable and quick to set up.

Pizza Cossaca

Pizza Cossaca is an Italian, Neapolitan pizza consisting of tomato sauce, hard cheese (parmesan/pecorino), basil, and extra virgin olive oil.

Pizza Diavola

Diavola translates as the devil in Italian, so this is one hot pizza! A Neapolitan pizza diavola typically consists of tomato sauce, mozzarella, hot salami or nduja, and chillies (optional).

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough is a mix of primarily flour and water, and a small amount of yeast to enable fermentation (proving/rising). Pizza dough is also seasoned with salt and sometimes oil and sugar.

Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita is an Italian, Neapolitan pizza consisting of tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil, and extra virgin olive oil.

Pizza Marinara

Pizza Marinara is an Italian, Neapolitan pizza consisting of tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil.

Pizza Oven

There are many types of ovens available on the market today with the sole purpose of cooking pizzas. The best pizza ovens have a pizza stone or steel and utilise a naked flame, powered by either solid fuel (such as wood pellets) or gas.

Home pizza ovens are relatively inexpensive and since they can reach temperatures up to 500 degrees celcius, most of them are capable of cooking Neapolitan style pizza.

Pizza Peel

A pizza peel is a thin shovel-like utensil used for loading pizzas into an oven (especially wood fired ovens). Pizza peels were traditionally made of wood but aluminium in now a commonly used material.

Pizza Steel

A pizza steel is a thick steel plate that is used for cooking pizzas on, much like a pizza stone. Compared to ceramic or stone, steel holds its temperature more effectively and is much less prone to warping, cracking, and shattering.

Pizza Stone

A pizza stone is a ceramic or stone tile that is used in a pizza oven or home oven, for the purpose of cooking pizzas. Pizza stones hold their temperature extremely well, which makes them perfect for cooking pizzas on.

Poolish

A poolish is a type of starter or pre-ferment that is made using equal amounts of flour and water, and a small amount of yeast. Any type of yeast can be used in a poolish but typically dried yeast is used, about 0.2% of the flour’s weight.

A poolish imparts a sweet flavour and a chewy texture to the final dough. Due to the lower amount of yeast and the longer fermentation time, dough made with a poolish also offers improved digestibility. The name is thought to have originated from Polish bakers that used the technique. French bakers then adopted the method in the early 1900s and it is still commonly used in artisan baking, particularly for baguettes.

Roccbox Pizza Oven

The Roccbox is a domestic pizza oven offered by the company Gozney. Unlike other pizza oven manufacturers that have focused mainly on solid fuel ovens, Gozney have concentrated on gas.

Although less portable and more expensive than other pizza ovens, the Roccbox is one of the best performing ovens on the market. It boasts superior heat retention and consistency in cooking. Reaching extremely high temperatures, the Roccbox is ideal for cooking Neapolitan pizza.

Sourdough

Sourdough refers to any type of dough that is made using wild yeast. The wild yeast is harvested by mixing flour and water together, usually in equal quantities, to form a starter. This starter is regularly topped up with fresh flour and water in order to create a yeast culture.

Once alive, a starter can last indefinitely, as long as it is fed. Sourdough starters are kept for decades by bakers. Older starters impart more flavour and texture and are typically more active and predictable.

The flavour achieved with sourdough is typically more acidic, or sour, hence the name sourdough. Due to the lower amount of yeast and the longer fermentation time, sourdough also offers improved digestibility.

Starter/Pre-ferment

A starter or pre-ferment refers to a dough that contains active yeast and is made for the purpose of adding to another dough later. The starter is used to leaven (prove/rise) the dough, instead of directly adding yeast.

A starter or pre-ferment can be in the form of a sourdough starter or a poolish. A preferment generally improves the flavour and texture of a dough.

Turning Peel

A turning peel is used to turn pizzas while cooking in an oven (especially wood fired ovens and home pizza ovens).

In a pizza oven, the side of the pizza closest to the fire will cook the quickest so the pizza must be regularly rotated in order to achieve an even cook.

Wood Fired Oven

A wood fired oven is a large brick or clay oven that cooks Neapolitan pizza via a real wood fire.

The oven construction consists of a domed cooking chamber with a chimney at the top. There is an opening at the front of the oven into which wood is loaded before being lit.

Once the fire has been built and lit, the fire is moved to one side and the oven is left to reach the optimal temperature before cooking begins. The pizzas are loaded (using a pizza peel) via the opening at the front and they are cooked on a thick stone at the side of the pizza.

Wood fired ovens are expensive and impractical for most people making pizzas at home. However, many fairly inexpensive and compact home pizza ovens are available on the market. The best ones (such as the Ooni and Roccbox) accurately replicate wood fired ovens, allowing for cooking of Neapolitan style pizza.

Wood Pellets

Wood pellets are small cylindrical pieces of compacted wood. They can be made of various types of wood and food grade wood pellets are available. These pellets are ideal to use in home pizza ovens as they contain no additives and are designed to burn at high temperatures.

Tom Rothwell from My Pizza Corner eating homemade pizza

About Me

I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!

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