Friday, April 20, 2012

Thin Crust Pizza (take two)

Every Friday since we lived in Japan, I make homemade pizza.  Since moving into our new house, for some reason, I really haven't been happy with how the pizza has been turning out.  I have been experimenting with different crust recipes, different procedures, and different cooking temps.  Be prepared to see pizza on here a lot in the upcoming month.  I have found two delicious ways to make deep dish pizza, and three different ways to make a thin crust, depending on what you're looking for.

The pizza restaurant I worked at through high school and college, had a pretty fluffy crust and thin, crispy bottom.  This is what I have achieved with this recipe.  The solution to my problem of a dry burnt cheese on top came to me about a month ago.  I was putting the pizza on a cold stone into a hot oven.  At the restaurant, the pizza went right into a hot oven on a hot surface- cooking the bottom faster, to help create a crispier texture.

I posted about pizza before, but I hate the picture I took and I found a different crust recipe that I think is easier and makes more dough.  This crust is of course, from America's Test Kitchen- Family Baking Book.

Pizza Crust:

4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 packet)
2 TBSP olive oil
1 1/2 cup warm water
corn meal for dusting the bottom of the dough

1) Put pizza stone in oven.  Preheat to 450'.  Put flour, salt, and yeast in bowl of food processor fitted with the dough blade.  (If you don't have a food processor, you can use a stand mixer with the dough hook).  Pulse to combine

2) Add olive oil, pulse a few times to combine.  Pour in water, mix to combine into a ball, about 30 seconds.  Let rest for 30 seconds, then mix for two minutes to knead the dough.

3) Grease a bowl and place the dough in the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm area until doubled, about 2 hours.  (I found that letting it go that extra 1/2 hr rising, makes a difference in the texture of the dough when cooked.  I usually make the dough at 2 in the afternoon for a 5 o'clock dinner).

4) Remove dough from bowl, divide in half.  Using one piece at a time, roll it on a counter lightly sprinkled with cornmeal (you can use a rolling pin or spread it with your hands, which will require more cornmeal).  Once dough is shaped, and you use your fingers to pinch a crust around the edges, careully lift the dough and place it on a lightly cornmealed pizza peel ( I still don't have a pizza peel, so I've been using a large cutting board- you can use the bottom of a rimmed cookie sheet too).  The cornmeal helps the pizza slide off the surface when you shake it into the oven.

5) Gently swirl sauce and sprinkle cheese and toppings onto pizza.  Carefully open the oven, pull out the rack with the hot stone on it.  Starting at the back side of the stone, slowly wiggle the peel or cutting board, the pizza should slide off of it onto the hot stone.  Close oven door and bake about 10-15 minutes until crust is light brown.

Source:  America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

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