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How to make pizza at home: Pizza Replicator Max Sussman’s pro tips

Frame > Frame Stories > Feb. 2022: The Pizza Issue > How to make pizza at home: Pizza Replicator Max Sussman’s pro tips

Chef Max Sussman spent months in his home kitchen dialing in the dough for his Ann Arbor-based pizza pop-up Pizza Replicator.

Here are a few of his pro tips for anyone attempting to cook pizza at home.

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PANS ARE YOUR FRIEND

Don’t be afraid to just make pan pizza at home. You can make a focaccia pizza, Sicilian-style, or Detroit-style pizza. Those are a little more suited to a home oven and also a little more suited to cooking for the size that you’re normally cooking for at home. People feel the need to recreate something they can have at a restaurant, but the best thing you can do at home is work with what you’ve got.

JUST MAKE THE DOUGH, OK?

If you’re going to bother making pizza at home, you should really make your own dough. It’s the basis of the pizza. Otherwise, if you’re going out to the store to buy pizza dough, you might as well go to the store and buy pizza. If you want to do it at home, I would say make the dough. Why bother if you’re not making it?

TRUST THE PROCESS

To find a dough recipe that you’re happy with could be a lifetime process, but I think there’s actually something awesome about that. Just keep making it. When you go to a great pizzeria and you love it, the reason you love it is because there’s a lot of attention, skill, and love put into the dough itself.

NO NEED TO GET FANCY

I don’t use a mixer. I mix the dough by hand and that’s for 100 pizzas. So I know you can mix the dough at home for like four or five pizzas. You don’t need a fancy stand mixer. It’s really just four ingredients. And it’s super simple.

BUT YOU WILL NEED SOME BASIC TOOLS

If you’re going to try to make a Neapolitan or New York-style pizza, where you’re stretching it and launching it into the oven and not in the pan, you definitely need a pizza stone. You can go in any direction. If you want to spend the money on baking steel, they’re a little more expensive but they’re great. You could also get quarry tiles for $3 apiece at a hardware store. Or you could get a baking stone — something in between. You also need a peel or two. You need a cutter. It’s weird to cut pizza with a knife. If you want to make Detroit-style pizza, you really need the pan — can’t skip that.

AND MAYBE SOME MORE ADVANCED ONES

One tool that I’ve come to love for my home testing is I have this proofing box that allows me to keep the dough at a very consistent temperature. A lot of people into making pizza at home are also into making bread at home. So I’ve used that thing like a million times. It doesn’t fit a huge batch, but if you’re trying to understand dough, you really benefit from being able to keep it at a steady temperature.

EITHER WAY, YOU’RE GOOD

And for my pop-ups I use the Roccbox oven, which is similar to an Ooni. I really like those for the style of pizza that I’m making. You can also get a Breville Pizzaiolo or an Ooni. We’re like in a golden age of home pizza gadgetry.

— As told to Mark Kurlyandchik