Sunday, June 14, 2009

Thin Crust Pizza

Edit: I just re-tested this recipe 9 (!) years later and made a few changes:

There's a time for thick, doughy pizzas and a time for thin, crispy pizzas. This is for when you have a hankering for the latter. It takes some forethought, since the dough rises overnight in the fridge, but is well worth the patience and planning. I got the dough recipe from this site and it works great if you follow the recipe just the way it's written (makes 2 pizzas). The sauce recipe is my own.

The day before:

1 lb. high protein unbleached white flour (ie bread flour)
3/4 c. warm water (or more*)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Combine all the ingredients and mix by hand or with a stand mixer. The dough will be extremely stiff and a bit lumpy. Do not knead any more than necessary to combine the ingredients. Place the dense dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl and allow to rise for 24 hours in the refrigerator. It will not get much bigger, but it will have a nice yeasty smell.

*Depending upon your flour, you may need more. I used a specialized high-protein pizza flour and needed a full cup of water. The goal is for it to just come together. It may be a bit lumpy, but shouldn't be shaggy.

Pizza Day:

Preheat your oven to 500 an hour before you plan to bake the pizza and remove the dough from the fridge so it can warm to room temperature. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the cold oven so it can preheat too. Meanwhile, make the sauce:

1 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes, ideally Red Gold brand
1/4 c. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 handful fresh basil or oregano, chopped
1 tsp. sugar
salt and black pepper

Heat up a couple tablespoons of the oil and cook half of the garlic until it just starts to brown. Add the tomatoes and bring to a low boil. Simmer until the sauce reduces in volume by half. Stir in the remaining olive oil, fresh herbs, remaining garlic, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble your remaining pizza ingredients. I recommend keeping these minimal and pre-cooking anything chunky.

Now for the fun part!

Divide the dough into two parts. Roll as thin as you possibly can, using a lot of flour on your rolling surface. I'm talking 1/8"-or-less thin. Sprinkle your pizza pans with some cornmeal and place the dough inside (or on something flat you can transfer it from if you're using a pizza stone) and cut the overhanging edges off, leaving 3/4" to fold over as your crust. Fold over the overhang and crimp it with a fork. Prick the crusts many times with a fork.

Bake the crusts for 4 minutes in your very hot oven until they begin to bubble up. Remove them and pop any large bubbles with a fork.

Ladle the sauce over and top the pizzas however you like. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the the cheese is bubbly and browned. I usually have to broil for an additional 1-2 minutes to get the look I want. (In my current, more highly powered oven, with a pizza stone, these only needed 5 additional minutes, and no broiling.)

Remove the pans from the oven and immediately transfer the pizza to a cooling rack for a minute or two. This will allow any moisture to escape so that the crust stays crispy. Cut up the pizza and dig in!

About toppings:

  • If using fresh mozarella, don't put more than 3 ounces on the pizza, or it will get soggy.
  • I highly recommend using fresh herbs. Fresh oregano in particular is great on these, especially with salami or sausage crumbles.

No comments: