Can You Make Restaurant-Style Pizza at Home? We Tested the Tips

June 29, 2017

You want to create homemade pizza that looks great (read: blackened freckles, stretchy cheese, crust bubbles), but you don't want to install a wood-burning oven in your fifth floor rental apartment.

Heck, you're not even sure want to invest in a baking steel. Or should it be a stone? (Listen, I feel ya.)

Is this a whole pizza or just one giant slice? The world will never know. Photo by Julia Gartland

Sometimes, when I'm sweating bullets in a steamy-hot kitchen, wondering if the crust will ever, ever turn an appetizing shade of golden-brown, I have such doubts: Is it possible to achieve restaurant-quality pizza at home? And what tools do I need to do it?

For answers, I looked to chefs who've built their reputations in crust, sauce, and cheese—Andrew Feinberg of Franny's; Carlo Mirarchi, Brandon Hoy, and Chris Parachini of Roberta's, and Joe Beddia of Pizzeria Beddia—by way of their three respective cookbooks, all of which essentially promise to grant the home cooks that aforementioned superpower.

Then, I put their advice to the test: If I skipped their recommendations and went out on my own path, could I still achieve good results? Jump to the tests here, or read on to hear from the pizza patrol. (Or cut straight to our takeaways.)

Photo by Julia Gartland

What the Experts Recommend

Across all three books, the authors suggest preheating a thick, sturdy baking stone in a 500° F oven (or even hotter, if you can) for at least an hour before baking your first pizza.

If you don't have a stone, the folks at Roberta's recommend—and even prefer!— four six-inch square unglazed quarry tiles ("The advantage of the tiles," they point out, "is that they're much cheaper than a stone and if they break, they're easily replaced.") And John Beddia also puts in a vote for terracotta tiles as a pizza stone alternative.

Once you've got your pizza on that very hot surface, the authors unanimously advise a Bake 'N Broil™ system (I just pulled that term out of thin air, but I think it serves a purpose):

  1. Cook the pizza for a short amount of time, between 3 and 5 minutes, during which the scorching direct heat of the surface will immediately begin to cook the pizza from the dough up (and, hopefully, cause it to spring and rise).
  2. Then, switch to broil mode (if you have a separate broiler drawer, you'll have to transfer the pizza) and cook until the crust begins to blister and char, anywhere from 1 to 5 more minutes.

And if you don't have a broiler, fret not! Continue to bake the pizza at a high temperature, but add a minute or two to the total cook time.

Our Tests & "Hacks"

But how does a stone stack up against a steel? And what about using a preheated, upside-down baking sheet or a cast-iron skillet as a workaround rather than investing in additional equipment?

We made four pizzas, all with the same pizzeria-purchased pizza dough and the same toppings, but we baked them on different surfaces: steel, stone, aluminum baking sheet, and cast-iron. We preheated the vessels for about 30 minutes in a 500° F oven, with the exception of the cast-iron skillet (as we were concerned about landing a delicate pizza into a burning-hot target). We baked all of the pizzas on the oven's middle rack for 10 to 11 minutes.

When the pizzas first came out of the oven, all appeared to be equally delicious, and so similar in appearance that it was hard to keep track of which was which without labels.

Photo by Julia Gartland

But when we flipped the slices belly-down, their true colors—or, er, lack thereof—were exposed. If we were judging the undersides by char-dappling and an underpinning of crunch, none of the pizzas would have mustered a score of "excellent" (perhaps we should have preheated for the recommended hour). Yet regardless of their shortcomings, the pizzas baked on the steel and the stone proved to be winners over those baked on the baking sheet and in the cast-iron skillet.

Let's examine each option more closely.

Here's where we can see the real difference. Photo by Julia Gartland

Baking Steel

Photo by Julia Gartland

Ah, the best of the bunch! While the pizza didn't immediately impress me as bubbly or burnished (and its interior was rather damp and soupy—a fault of our own overexcitement with the toppings, I'd assume), compared to the others, it proved to be the best-cooked. Just look at that arc of dark crispiness at the bottom left that demarcates where the sauce ends and the crust circumference begins.

Ceramic Stone

Photo by Julia Gartland

The pizza cooked on the ceramic stone was paler overall, with a snowy-white underside. The crust wasn't quite as well-baked, but the difference might not have been as noticeable had we not been eating the various pizzas simultaneously.

Photo by Julia Gartland

The steel or the stone?

In terms of choosing between stones and steels, many food authorities, including J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats, Joe Yonan, and David Lebovitz, favor steel. Cook's Illustrated concluded that steels, which conduct heat more effectively and store more heat per volume unit, are a worthwhile splurge "if you’re an avid pizza baker seeking to emulate the violent heat of a professional pizza oven." And Kenji, who tested dozens of pizzas, stones, steels, and recipes, found that "in every single case [the steel] produced results superior to anything [he'd] ever been able to make with a standard stone." The caveat? Baking steels are heavier and more expensive (but, treat them well and they'll last forever, with no risk of cracking).

Baking Sheet

Photo by Julia Gartland

The pie baked on the inverted preheated baking sheet was perhaps the most deceptive of the group. It had some nice color on the underside, to an equal or even greater extent than the pizza baked on the ceramic stone, but we were met with a layer of raw, mushy dough in the center.

If a baking sheet is your only option, you'll want to extend the cook time significantly—probably by at least four or five minutes—before (and if) you broil.

Cast-Iron Skillet

Another clear loser (hey, I'm just calling it like it is), this pizza was cooked all the way through—there was no raw dough in the center, praised be—yet it was soft and pale all over, with a thoroughly floury underside and not much color on the outer crust. And that was even after adding an additional 2 to 3 minutes to the baking time. (I'd guess that we didn't have the same raw dough situation as the baking sheet because, rather than only bottom heat, the sides of the cast-iron skillet provide lateral heat, as well).

Photo by Julia Gartland

We had these results because we weren't able to preheat the cast-iron skillet, as we were worried about nestling an assembled pizza into a hot skillet. We also weren't able to stretch this dough quite as thinly, as it wouldn't have fit in our pan.

If you'd like to use a cast-iron skillet to make a pizza, you may want to preheat the pan and assemble the pizza on a sheet of parchment paper, like fiveandspice recommends for her Creamed Leek and Egg Skillet Pizza. When the pan is hot, slide the pizza, parchment paper and all, into the pan very carefully, then proceed to bake it.

Another option? Preheat your cast-iron skillet but invert it (a recommendation from Peter Reinhart and Heston Blumenthal), so that you have a flat—albeit small—surface onto which you can shimmy your pizza.

Our Takeaways

  • If you're committed to making pizza at home, get yourself a steel. For a cheaper option, a stone will work, though it won't get as blaring-hot.
  • If you need a workaround—maybe you're just starting out—you can use a cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet (but do not expect, or be distressed, by less-than-ideal results).
  • And whatever baking vessel you're using, you'll need to crank up the oven and preheat the surface for a long time—30 minutes is okay, but an hour is better. (Sadly, this is not the most earth-friendly practice.)
  • Other tips for ensuring success: Use room temperature dough and consider the amount of water-releasing toppings on your pizza. Choose firm mozzarella and thick-ish tomato sauce for stay-put toppings that don't gush off the sides of your slices.

Ready for some pizza practice?

What are your best tips for making pizza at home? Share with us in the comments below.


Ella C. March 5, 2018
This is one of the best pizza I ever tasted. This is famous for their taste and their crust and bread is also very good.
Calvistan July 7, 2017
My conjecture is that you can make pizza to your idea of near perfection even in a Breville countertop at 450 deg. I use a cast iron griddle (a 13 incher from Victoria fits perfectly). I assemble on a warm griddle, then heat it on high on an 18000 btu burner for about 5 minutes. The bottom of the crust is nearly done. Then I pop it into the 450 deg. preheated oven for about 8 minutes. You will need to experiment with times depending on your stove and how many ingredients you pile on. An infrared thermometer on the griddle might help you get it right quicker. Anyway, with the head start on the bottom of the crust and watching the process on the pie in the oven, I have gotten as close as I think possible to that which is ultimately desired. Timing depends on your circumstances.<br />Calvistan
Deborah July 7, 2017
I have made pizza for decades with a 500 oven preheated to temperature and pizza pans which are blackened from use, and have never had a white crust (use less flour, duh!). I use crushed tomatoes that have the dried herbs and garlic and onion powders mixed in and allowed to absorb at least for the time it takes to make the dough (creates a really thick sauce. If you don't want the center of the crust to be soggy, don't pile ingredients into the center of the pie, they ooze there over during the bake...5 minutes for lightly dressed, and 8-10 minutes for a heavily dressed, (and medium crusted) pie. As for the cast iron skillet, turn it over, like you did with the baking sheet, (again, duh!)
Laura P. July 6, 2017
Friends of mine just got a Roccbox ( and made me pizza last night. Wow! First of all, it's small enough to take with you on a picnic. Second, it uses either propane or wood. And third, it FLIES past 500 degrees: it reaches 700 degrees plus easily - in 20 minutes. (There's a handy thermometer on the side so you can see how hot it is.) <br /><br />The downsides: expensive, and has to ship from Europe, so you might not get it for five or six weeks.
Nathanael P. July 6, 2017
My recommendation? A pizza screen and unglazed quarry tiles. Line the bottom rack of your oven with the tiles, put your dough on the screen, and your troubles are over. The screen allows you to move your pizza around as needed and yet maintain contact with the hot tiles. You'll get great pizza and the tiles will cost about $12. A bonus is that they stop food from hitting the bottom of the stove making it easier to clean.
Jana July 2, 2017
Ummm would someone link me to this Kenji genius please?
Author Comment
Sarah J. July 3, 2017
Here's Kenji's article on the baking steel: (also linked above!).
Paula H. July 2, 2017
I preheat oven to 500 degrees for about 20 mins or so, then use a very cheap metal pizza pan that has holes in it (about the size of a pencil eraser). Cooks in about 10 minutes and is always nice and crispy. I used to use a stone, but the pan seems to let more air through to the crust. <br />
Amey G. July 2, 2017
I lived in NYC for 20 years then moved to LA and made so many pizzas. The key is to bake your crust only for 5 min. First then take it out and add toppings. Not to much sauce or toppings because it will just be a soggy mess. Then cook for about 8 minutes at 500 degrees. Perfect pizza every time no fancy stone needed.
Pami July 2, 2017
I use a baking steel in the gas grill. Preheat both for 20 mins on high and reduce to 500. Always put pizzas on cornmeal and slide into grill. Check at 4 mins and most are perfectly done by 5 mins. Bottoms blistered perfectly.
mrwmrw July 2, 2017
To address a couple of the other techniques...<br /><br />Par baking a dough on an aluminum sheet may help if you have to use an aluminum sheet. You have to dock the dough so that it doesn't inflate and you won't get a noticeable rim but if you're baking on an aluminum sheet you must not care about the quality too much anyway. <br /><br />Flouring a cast iron skillet and then putting the dough in and baking it? Where do people come up with this stuff? You'll end up with an amount of burnt flour which will seriously detract from the taste of whatever you manage to bake.<br /><br />The pictures in the article show an awful lot of flour on the bottom of the doughs - especially considering this pics are all after baking. That is seriously wrong and shows that the writer of this article really doesn't know what they are writing about. <br /><br />This is a major problem in the world of pizza. Like with this I researched, untested, completely amateur, hacknof an article there is an abundance of misinformation online which makes it very difficult to learn how to make a great pizza at home. Websites, blogs, magazines are all desperate for content and how to make pizza at home is always a popular topic so we frequently get these cheap, hacky articles which just tend to copy the cheap, hacky article another blogger posted a few months earlier. Every writer says "if you don't have a steel just use a stone or an aluminum sheet will work fine too". That is just incorrect. There a a few reliable food writers out there that I have come to trust but Kenji is far and away the best. Just read what Kenji says and you'll be making a better pizza than before which will make you happy. Food52 is usually a pretty reliable site and I'm surprised they dropped the ball so badly on this one.<br /><br />Anyway, I've expressed my opinion enough and to each their own.
Author Comment
Sarah J. July 3, 2017
Hello and thank you for your opinions and feedback. I don't believe I said "If you don't have a steel just use a stone or an aluminum sheet will work fine too." I actually wrote that if you're using anything other than steel or stone, you can expect less-than-ideal results. That's in the takeaway section.
mrwmrw July 4, 2017
The comment I made stating that "every writer" says that if you don't have a stone just use an aluminum sheet and it will work just fine was an obviously hyperbolic paraphrasing of the general consensus of the thousands of articles available online that contain mostly misinformation or information detrimental to the novice home pizzaiolo. I get what you are saying about presenting the workarounds for those who don't have a steel and won't get a steel. However your research and testing is majorly flawed. You said that the inverted sheet pan resulted in better crust coloring than the ceramic stone. Impossible if tested correctly. More likely it is due to you leaving unequal (and ungodly) amounts of raw flour on the underside of the doughs when you baked them. Look at those pictures! Have you ever, EVER, received a slice of pizza with that much raw flour on the bottom from a professional establishment? I'd bet not. You didn't preheat the cast iron skillet at all??? What? Of course you got a terrible pie. You didn't follow instructions. You didn't even attempt to follow the instructions. It's very odd to embark upon writing an instructional article about a topic you don't know much about for a well-respected website and then put this little effort into practicing and testing the techniques before publishing the article all because the ovens were busy that day? Pretty amateurish effort and, frankly, amateurish postings like this one serve to diminish Food 52's credibility.
mrwmrw July 2, 2017
Anyone who is baking a pizza at a temp around 450 will be able to "successfully" bake a pizza. The problem is that it will take a long time. 15+ minutes is an eternity in the oven for a pizza dough. You are drying out the rim of the pizza and you end up with a dry, crunchy (not crispy), breadstick-like cornicione which is most often thought to be not the ideal. Is it edible? Yes. Have you "had success" baking a pizza? Technically I guess you have because you will get a pizza. However, I suspect the quality of your pizza will be low. So did you "have success" baking a good pizza? I seriously doubt it. Actually, I'll just say it, no you didn't. A traditional NY or Neapolitan style pie baked at 450 is a failure. To each their own when it comes to how to define a quality pizza but anyone who spends some time researching will determine that there are some definite, clearly defined characteristics of what makes a truly excellent pizza as determined by the best pizzaiolos in the world. To bake what I consider to be a successful pizza you must aim to bake your dough into a crust that has a huge oven spring so that it appears poofy, is crispy on the outside, shatters when you bite it and that crispness gives way to a soft, lacey, silky, airy crumb with a perfectly toothsome chew. At the lower temps you have to bake the pie for too long in order to get the bottom of your crust to have any structure or crispness and in the process you kill the most important part of the pizza - the rim (aka the "crust"). This is also why using a baking steel is absolutely necessary. The folks who are saying "I don't see why a baking stone is necessary - I just use an aluminum pan" are definitely making less than ideal pizzas. No matter what any food writer says, you cannot achieve anything close to an ideal crust/rim on an aluminum sheet whether you preheat it or not. Aluminum does not conduct heat well enough to transfer enough heat to the dough fast enough to bake it and thus it needs a longer bake time and kills all of the moisture in the dough. Heck, baking stones really aren't any better for the same reason - heat transfer. You'll get better heat from a stone than an aluminum tray but the stone's heat dissipates quickly so you better have it screaming hot and you better not plan to do more than one pie. Also, I've had several stones crack on me because using them in a higher heat oven dries the stone out and leads to breakage. So, again, you need a baking steel in order to make a great pizza at home. There just isn't any other way.
s July 2, 2017
No need to waste energy and time with a baking stone. Par-bake the crust on a thin aluminum pan, then take it out, add toppings and cook the pizza on parchment paper directly on the oven rack. Your success depends also on a proper crust recipe as well.
Willa July 2, 2017
I've had success with another method of baking pizza. I sprinkle corn meal on a fairly flat black baking sheet. After stretching the dough and adding toppings The pizza is placed in a 450 degree oven (electric) for about 8 minutes, then I slip the pizza onto the oven wire shelf (at this point I place a large piece of foil on the oven floor since burning corn meal is not too great a smell). I continue to bake the pizza till the bottom crust is nice and brown and crisp.
Flanzo July 1, 2017
If you are interested in making proper crisp crust pizza, mrwmrw lays it out if you can bring yourself to read that long of a comment (not a slight to mrwmrw, but an acknowledgement of the general attention spans people have). The tl;dr version<br /><br />1) use a pizza steel<br />2) preheat oven to highest setting for at least an hour<br />3) 10 minutes before putting pizza in turn on broiler<br />4) expect cook times between 90" and 4 minutues and will give you a pizza better than many restaurants.<br /><br />This will also give you a "crisp" crust, but pizza is not supposed to crunch like a hard roll, but rather like nice croissant: a thin crisp exterior layer and a moist chewy interior.<br /><br />I use 100-65-2-1.5 ration flour/water/salt/yeast, measure in grams, 200 grams per dough for a 10", organic tomatos and fresh mozz.<br /><br />As mrw says, J Kenzi is a must read, as is Jeff Varasano's pizza recipe<br /><br />
HMParham June 30, 2017
I make my pizzas in a cast iron skillet all the time but the trick is to turn the stove top on, flour the skillet, then place your dough without any toppings. Once the crust starts to bubble, then add your sauce and whatever else your heart desires. After your toppings are placed, put it in a 500 degree over for 13-15 minutes. The bottom and top are extra crispy but the middle is softer and not raw.
mrwmrw June 30, 2017
The first five commenters are correct. This was not a good test of the various methods for making a pizza at home. I don't believe the method mentioned by Daniel but it may be worth a try. Seems crazy. How does a pizza "black" at temperatures between room temp and 450? I don't know but maybe one day if I want to waste ingredients I'll give that method a try. If you're serious about making pizza at home, real pizza, there is only one choice - the thickest baking steel you can buy. I've used the Baking steel for years - thank you Andris for developing that product. The baking steel was a game changer. That's step one. Step two is read every Kenji article on pizza. Don't bother with anyone else. Peter Reinhart's books and techniques are great but really don't not for seasoned home pizzaiolos. Kenji breaks it down for beginners and helps you learn. Kenji's NY style dough in the food processor and his NY sauce sweetened with onion are just great. Once you know what you are doing you can start playing with Jim Lahey's no-knead or Reinhart's neo-Neapolitan or whatever you want but learn from the master, Kenji, first. The "bake-n-broil" technique is different than described in this article which maybe why they didn't have good results. Other commenter is right - how does this author say that every reputable source says to preheat for at least an hour so for these tests they decided to cut that time in half? If you want to ensure that your final product sucks then go ahead and do everything wrong. You must preheat for at least an hour - I go 1.5 hours - and make sure your steel is as close to that broiler as you can get it (test it in your own oven, you may want to put the steel one level down from the top but I like it right up near the heat source). Ten minutes before you bake flip on your broiler (assuming the broiler is at the top of your oven) and crack the door an inch so that the broiler doesn't cycle off. Let the broiler heat until the heating element is blazing red hot. Then pop your pie in. Set a timer for 1.5 minutes. When the timer goes off you need to rotate your pie a half turn. Set the timer again - 1.5 minutes. Watch your pizza. It may be done in 2 minutes, it may take 5 minutes. Depends on a bunch of factors specific to your situation (dough age, hydration, oven, etc) so you just have to learn to watch it. May want to rotate pie a couple of times to avoid burning the crust. You should see significant oven spring but that will depend on your hydration level. If the top of your pie bakes too fast and the bottom doesn't char then either preheat the steel longer, hotter, or under the broiler for a few extra minutes or maybe move the steel down a level away from the heating element. I do a 70% hydration, no knead, cold fermented for 48 hours dough with King Arthur Sir Lancelot flour and instant yeast and it comes out almost like a true Neapolitan pie. Hard to get the true leopard spotting at home in a regular oven. I've gotten close on doughs that I let ferment for a very long time (up to a week). You can use fresh mozzarella for this if, IF, you can get your broiler element temp up to 700 or so. Check with a laser thermometer. Helps if you press your fresh mozzarella for awhile to squeeze some moisture out. Can use whole milk, low moisture chews too. Grate your own. Use smoked mozzarella or provolone for good flavor. Drizzle olive oil in a light spiral on the pie before placing in the oven. Us a fresh sauce made only from freshly hand crushed tomatoes and salt. Get cans of whole peeled ply tomatoes. Dump them in a colander to strain off the purée. Put the tomatoes on another bowl and l, using your thumbs, just kind of pop each tomato. You'll see a somewhat clear tomato water running out. Put that aside for something else. Now, in another bowl crush the tomatoes with your hands until they have a saucy consistency. Add back as much purée as you need to achieve the texture you want. Add kosher salt lightly. Salt should be 1% of the sauce and no more. Don't add any other herbs or seasonings. Add fresh basil after the pie comes out of the oven. If you are adding sliced deli meats you may consider laying them on top of the pie after it is baked rather than before. They just kind of melt on the surface of the pizza and spread their meaty (porky) fatty goodness all over. Best for prosciutto or capicola and maybe salami. Sandwich pepperoni could work but regular stick pepperoni is probably best going in the ove so that it can curl and crisp. Another method that works very well is for a more traditional NY style pizzeria pie or maybe, to be fancy, what Reinhart's calls his neo-Neapolitan style pie. Make Reinhart's neo-Neapolitan dough with oil and sugar in the dough. Let it ferment in the fridge. When you're ready to get started preheat the oven for the same 1-1.5 hours with the steel in the middle of the oven. Open up your dough and top it as you please. Get a 16" pizza pan and rub it from rim to rim with a light coating of oil (maybe a 1/8 cup if I had to guess - definitely just a medium coating, no standing oil). Slide your pie onto the pizza pan. This assumes that your oven heating element is on the bottom of your oven. Place the pan on the lowest oven rack (immediately above the element and under the steel). Again, you have to test your own oven to see what is best - you may want to be one level up from the lowest possible setting. Set a timer for 2 min and rotate the pie a 1/4-1/3 turn when the timer goes off. Set the timer again for 2 min and rotate again. This style takes about 6-8 min total in my oven give or take. Use whole milk, low moisture mozzarella with a light sprinkle of mild cheddar and maybe some smoked mozzarella or provolone if you so choose. May want a slightly thicker sauce for this version but the fresh version mentioned above works just fine too. <br />
Daniel June 30, 2017
I agree that my method inspires skepticism as it is pretty much the exact opposite of what every expert says we should do but once you start thinking about it, it's not so crazy.<br /><br />The pizza is spending 10 minutes (about the time my oven takes to heat up) naked (remember the slots) right over an open flame (lower rack). Also, since the tray is almost the size of the oven (about a finger or two to spare on each side), I presume it cuts the proper circulation of air in the oven and creates a hotter pocket below.<br /><br />In short, I don't know how or why but it works reliably.
Flanzo July 1, 2017
If your pizza takes longer than 4-5 minutes to cook, the dough will be a bread not a pizza crust. I'm sure you like your method, but setting aside the fact that it's only good for one pizza, I know that based on food science it simply will not make a proper pizza crust.
Daniel July 1, 2017
Now you have my full attention. What is the difference between a bread and a pizza crust (from the perspective of the eater, and based on your comment about time)?<br /><br />One undesirable property of my pizza is that it doesn't age well. After a night in the fridge (cold pizza, breakfast of champions) it's leathery. And yes, I can't make more than one perfect pizza. Luckily, when I have a large audience that means kids who often prefer their pizza chewy and not crispy.
isw June 30, 2017
If you cook pizza in an iron skillet and the bottom comes out too pale, just pop the (still hot) pan on your biggest burner and crank it up for a minute or two, checking 'till you like what you see (not my idea; this is from the venerable Kenji).
andrislagsdin June 29, 2017
What a great review! For full disclosure, I am the creator of the Baking Steel. One of the great attributes beyond searing steaks, smashing burgers and making ice cream on steel, is its ability to rebound in between pizzas! In other words, your second and third pizzas will bake just as quickly as your first! The Baking Steel will get back up to 500F faster than stones, tiles or even cast iron. Just wanted to add my two cents! Happy 4th and thanks for the great read Food52....
Mark June 29, 2017
I use a stone at 550 degrees in a gas grill. I get crisp but stretchy crust with blisters on the top and even some crunchy pizzaria bubble blisters in the cheese. Be careful with fresh mozzarella. It has a ton of water in it and you need to cook super hot (500 probably not enough) and fast to evaporate the moisture to avoid soggypallooza pizza.
Nigel June 29, 2017
This was fairly useless. Didn't preheat the ovens for an hour. <br />Used too small cast iron skillet and was afraid to put in the pizza. <br />After the first round of test bakes, you couldn't afford to do a 2nd batch with properly preheated ovens? And no one could borrow/buy a larger cast iron skillet??<br />Way way below Kenji standards.
Author Comment
Sarah J. July 3, 2017
I definitely don't try to reach Kenji standards—there are plenty of experts who've already suggested great ways to cook pizza at home. This was more of a test to see whether taking shortcuts would work. And it doesn't!