You have probably heard of some people who use cornmeal on pizza crust. Should you use it as well or skip it?
Cornmeal can be used on pizzas to either avoid the crust from sticking to the pizza stone or to transfer the pizza from the peel to the pizza oven.
If your pizza stone is heated correctly, you do not need cornmeal on your pizza. The pizza will not stick to the pizza stone if it is hot and ready for cooking.
A hot pizza stone will make the pizza crust crispy and sturdy, making it easier to slide the pizza peel under the pizza and transfer or move the pizza inside the oven.
While it is true that cornmeal can add some crispiness to the pizza, it can also burn more quickly than flour. Burnt cornmeal can add bitter flavors to the pizza, which can ruin it.
So do you need to use cornmeal on your pizza? This post will explain how you can safely use cornmeal on pizza.
Table of Contents
What Is Cornmeal?
Cornmeal is a type of coarse flour made from ground-dried corn. It is a common ingredient for different recipes, especially in South America.
You can differentiate cornmeal by its fineness. There is coarse cornmeal, medium, and fine ground.
These different textures create different results and can be used in specific recipes. Each type has different end products so it is a versatile type of coarse flour.
The most popular type of cornmeal used is yellow maize. It is cornmeal used for making tortillas, tacos, and polenta.
It is also the type of cornmeal that I use on pizzas when needed.
Do You Need Cornmeal While Making Pizza?
Using cornmeal when making pizzas is unnecessary, but it can help make the process easier.
People use cornmeal on pizza to transfer the pizza easily from the work surface to the peel and then onto the pizza stone in the pizza oven.
By dusting the bottom of the pizza with cornmeal, it makes it easier to slide the pizza peel under the pizza as well as get it off the pizza peel.
It prevents the pizza crust from sticking to the pizza stone, work surface, or the pizza peel.
Cornmeal also adds texture and flavor to the pizza, which is why some people use it for making pizzas.
Why not just use regular flour?
Cornmeal is used on a pizza because it is coarser than regular flour, which means that it is better as a non-stick agent.
The grainy texture of cornmeal makes it easier for the pizza peel to slide between the crust and the baking surface.
What Kind Of Cornmeal Do You Use?
As I mentioned above, cornmeal is used on pizzas because of its coarse texture. However, coarser does not always mean better.
If you are starting and trying out using cornmeal on pizza for the first time, I highly recommend using medium-ground cornmeal on your pizza.
This will give your pizza enough flavor and texture without overwhelming the flavors on the dough. It is also better for preventing the pizza from sticking to the pizza stone than the fine ground.
The coarsest type of cornmeal is the best for preventing pizza from sticking to the pizza stone but it can add a grainy flavor, which I do not like that much.
For flavor – fine-ground cornmeal
For non-stick agent – coarse ground cornmeal
A bit of both – medium ground cornmeal
How You Can Make Pizzas Without Cornmeal
You can make pizzas without cornmeal added to the dough or on the pizza peel. You can use some substitutes, such as semolina and wheat flour.
These are good alternatives for a beginner, but I want you to know that you can cook a pizza without using cornmeal.
The main concern is when transferring the pizza from the work surface to the pizza stone without it sticking, you can use wheat flour.
Ensure the pizza stone is preheated and hot enough to cook the pizzas. When the pizza stone is hot enough, at least 500 degrees Fahrenheit, the pizza crust will not stick to the pizza stone.
How to preheat the pizza stone to avoid using cornmeal?
In my opinion, you should never use cornmeal to dust your pizza crust because you do not need to. Once you heat the pizza stone to the right temperature, the crust will not stick to the stone.
Place the pizza stone in the pizza oven and preheat it. This should take about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the oven.
Once the pizza oven is preheated, measure the surface temperature of the pizza stone, which should be at least 500-800 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the pizza stone is preheated, the dough will quickly become crispy and will not stick to the pizza stone. Therefore, there is no need for a non-stick agent underneath the pizza.
Once the pizza is cooked and the crust is crispy enough, it will be easy to slide the pizza peel under it without cornmeal.
If your pizza still sticks to the pizza stone, chances are you have not preheated it long enough, so preheat it until it reaches 500F or more on its surface temperature.
Note: never use parchment paper on a pizza stone as it will only burn from extreme heat since it can only handle about 430F, whereas a pizza stone can get as hot as 500F or more, so the parchment paper will burn.
Cornmeal vs. Corn Flour
Cornmeal and corn flour both come from corn grains, however, corn flour is a much finer product that is usually used to thicken recipes such as soups.
Cornmeal comes from the ground corn kernels, while corn flour is an extract of the endosperm of corn grains.
Corn flour is an excellent powder. It is made from the starchy parts of the corn endosperm.
Cornmeal has a much coarser texture than corn flour. Corn flour is also more processed than cornmeal which makes it even finer.
Cornmeal vs. Semolina
Semolina is another standard option for dusting pizza. It is made from a coarse type of wheat flour which works like cornmeal.
The best thing about semolina is it does not burn as quickly as cornmeal. That is why it is better for high temperatures, like pizza ovens.
Cornmeal can be used if you are cooking pizzas at a lower temperature, like Chicago deep-dish, but it can burn if you use cornmeal at high temperatures, which adds bitterness to the pizza.
Semolina also has a more subtle flavor which means you will not notice a drastic change in flavor like when you use cornmeal on pizza.
Other Uses Of Cornmeal In Baking
Aside from pizza, you can use cornmeal on other dishes, such as casseroles, lasagna, and pasta. It adds just a bit of flavor and texture to these dishes.
Cornmeal is also helpful when it comes to baking pizzas on a pan. I do not usually use cornmeal on a pizza stone but it does a better job with thicker pizzas.
Using cornmeal on a pizza pan
When I cook pizzas with thicker ingredients, such as Chicago deep-dish pizza, I always sprinkle a little cornmeal on the pan before putting the dough and toppings in it.
The cornmeal acts as a barrier between the dough and the pan which makes the pizza easier to remove from the pan when it is cooked.
Since Chicago deep-dish is cooked longer and at a much lower temperature, it prevents the cornmeal from burning, which is a typical result when cooking at high temperatures on a pizza stone.
In other recipes
Cornmeal adds a delicious flavor to other dishes like casseroles. It is a healthy gluten-free ingredient that can be used in other recipes.
I usually add cornmeal to cookies to get a bit of crispiness. Cornmeal is also a great addition to sauces and marinades for meat.
You can also use cornmeal as a coating for air fryer recipes. When used on chicken wings, the outer part of the wings becomes crunchy even when they are baked.
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