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  • Organising a pizza party question

    Not long to go now before the Big Day (20 people coming for pizza).

    I'm going to prepare the dough balls a day in advance, and some toppings as well, but I'm expecting a few guests will bring their own toppings if they want.

    Now, what's best? Get each guest to create their own base from the dough balls and add their own toppings? Or maybe I should shape the bases myself and let them add their toppings?

    If I shape the bases, how long will they stay in shape ready for the toppings?

    What experience has anyone got when organising this part? Needless to say, I hope I am also on top of the fire in the wfo! I will have one other helper, but she's not as good as me at making pizzas, and I'm not even good at it, and she will have children to control, so I feel pretty much alone.

    Practical suggestions on this would be very appreciated.

    (P de D)

  • #2
    Re: Organising a pizza party question

    We had a Pizzafest a while ago and invited the guests to bring their fave toppings, we also provided toppings...

    DONT DO THAT......... we had toppings for weeks after the party was over.

    As for the bases, I made the dough and set into balls and the guests made their own bases, you wouldnt believe how much fun they had..
    The English language was invented by people who couldnt spell.

    My Build.



    • #3
      Re: Organising a pizza party question

      Yep, what he said...

      I always let guests make their own pizzas and shape their own dough (after giving them a quick demo) and they love it. And meanwhile you can tend the fire and cook the pizzas in a cool calm and collected way. Its a real win-win way of organising things.
      "Building a Brick oven is the most fun anyone can have by themselves." (Terry Pratchett... slightly amended)



      • #4
        Re: Organising a pizza party question

        If you are going to go with do-it-yourslf dough stretching, you may not want to use your highest hydration dough formula. If you cut back the water a percentage or two it's more manageable for beginners.
        My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


        • #5
          Re: Organising a pizza party question

          Thanks for the replies. One concern about this is that I don't want the guests to get fed up if the dough I produce keeps springing back once they have formed something vaguely edible. Any tip on getting the dough to stop from bouncing back?


          • #6
            Re: Organising a pizza party question

            Hi PdD!

            You got some good advice above, methinks. I find guests tend to put WAY too much on the pizzas which then gets on the peel which then GLUES the pizzas to the peel etc. I tend to discourage letting guests make pizzas.

            RE: springback... make the balls the day before so they will be well relaxed. Italian 00 (at least Caputo) is springier than AP so downgrading is probably smart for guests. Rolling them out can help - at least as the first forming step, especially if you are going to let them finish the dough.

            I would not suggest letting them work with the oven but I still carry scars from my FIRST pizza event. First pizza went really well. Second was going fine. The fire was in the rear of the oven. When it was time to remove the pizza I put the peel under the edge of the pizza - or so I thought - and snapped the peel forward....and shoved the whole pizza into the fire (the peel was apparently against the edge of the pizza and NOT under it). It was a sad moment.... But a memorable one. Fires now go on the right side of the oven so it is out of the way!

            Have fun and let us know how it goes!


            • #7
              Re: Organising a pizza party question

              Jay, thanks, and yes, the replies are great.

              One thing, what is meant by 'AP'? Is this perhaps what we call 'strong' flour? Developed for bread?


              • #8
                Re: Organising a pizza party question

                I don't let the guests build their own. They tend to put too many toppings on and get sauce on the peel...

                One dumped pizza slows down the whole process.

                I just let the guests "order" pizza...."Ok, who's next? Suzie, you want Onions and anchovies? Coming up!" They can supervise the toppings....

                Sometimes I have one person who is very interested, and I will have them tend the oven. I place, they turn and remove the pie...That helps with the labor...

                Just my two cents.

                My Oven Thread:


                • #9
                  Re: Organising a pizza party question

                  AP means All Purpose, the US standard supermarket flour. It comes in bleached and unbleached versions, and it's what you buy to make piecrust, thicken gravies, and the like. It makes a pretty good close grained white bread, but that's not it's best use. I use it for my bench flour, since it's cheap, and right there.
                  My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


                  • #10
                    Re: Organising a pizza party question

                    I haven't finished my oven yet, but we do cook pizza in our stove oven with a pizza stone. I have found that some people enjoy making their own pizza's and others are content with eating them. Unless someone were to get too close to the fire, it's my belief that nothing can go wrong. If the pizza it isnt round it will get eaten anyway. If the dough is a little too thick, The pizzza will be eaten. If half the topping falls off, push it off to the side, or lift it out with the peel, and keep going. Unless your trying to impress your boss, the're all friends and will enjoy the party.

                    relax, enjoy!


                    • #11
                      Re: Organising a pizza party question

                      Wow, lots of variety in whether people think it's a good idea or not to let guests make their own. I reckon I'm going to go down the road of me provide the dough balls, they can do the rest with a little instruction. I want to keep the fire going, and focus on that.

                      Info on flour types taken on board, many thanks you guys.


                      • #12
                        Re: Organising a pizza party question

                        Hi Tim!

                        It is probably worth noting that we seem to have a wide range of "styles" of pizza parties as well. For example, I like to hit my guests with combinations that involve special ingredients and combos that they are not likely to try on their own. While I usually do ONE "American" style pizza (such as It sausage, pepperoni, or Canadian bacon w/ black olives) I often have expensive ingredients such as guanciale, or mascarpone or really good blue cheese that for both cost and flavor reasons need to be used in the right amounts. So I like to keep control.

                        It is however, in part, also a function of the number of people. Most of our parties are for 6 to 10 and we cut each pizza into the number of slices of people present and we make and eat one pizza at a time. With 20 to 30 people the dynamics would have to be different.

                        And another factor is age of the guests. Kids are not nearly as open to "odd" pizzas and our guests are almost exclusively adult and like the variety. So....

                        IF you are going to have the guests make their pizzas, you might want to consider starting the dough by flouring it good and rolling it out to about 1/4 inch thick. That will give you a bunch of "pancakes" that you can stack and hold for a while and they will be easier for the guests to handle and shape.

                        Good luck! Let us know how it goes!


                        • #13
                          Re: Organising a pizza party question

                          Jay, thanks for the ideas (everyone, thanks), you make it sound so appetising and interesting. I myself love this kind of thing, and hope to be surrounded by like-minded folks who will indulge.

                          I so am looking forward to having a just a couple of 'expensive' toppings, really special things that will be memorable.

                          I'm thinking simple here. Tomato base, and perhaps no more than three toppings each time. Thin bases, smattering of tomato, cheese, chorizo, artichoke. y'know.

                          Also, I have this to-die-for cast iron skillet, and am dreaming of having it stuffed full of prawns, olive oil and garlic and sizzling just inside the oven door. Lashings of baguette etc.!

                          Just got to be organised, that's all.

                          Later, it's bed time here.



                          • #14
                            Re: Organising a pizza party question

                            I usually make the pizzas, and have the guests pass around the plate (with small wedges) so everyone gets a taste at first. As the party goes on, I let people try to make their own. I will sometimes roll out the pie for them and let them dress it.

                            Start your fire a good bit of time before people arrive. The mistake I made at first was to have my fire too hot.....had some scorchers. So now I get it real hot, and then let it back off to 700 - 750 degrees.

                            Another tip, have some SUBSTANTIAL pick up snacks for them when they get there, like an artichoke spinach cheese dip, devilled eggs, or vegie plate. It takes the edge off, and you don't get as much slobber around the oven when you are getting your first pizzas going. Have a great time.


                            • #15
                              Re: Organising a pizza party question

                              Can I add a couple of ideas?

                              Dmun's idea on reducing the hydration if you have kids is a good one. There is nothing worse than either sticky dough in a kid's hands, or a pizza stuck to your pizza peel.

                              For some parties, I make all of the pizza dough bases, and turn the pizza making (decorating) over to the guests, while nominating one guest to turn the pizzas in the oven. A lot of folks can make a great pizza from a shaped base, sitting on a pizza peel -- plus, you can make sure there is enough flour under the pizza to keep it from sticking.

                              Just my two cents. Our experience is that pizza making parties are a blast!

                              Lots of good red wine on a warm summer's eve.
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