In our house, we favor a thin crust pizza. Don't get me wrong, deep-dish, Chicago-style pizza holds a different sort of allure, no less magnetic, and we do enjoy a good one with all our hearts. In fact, speaking of Hearts, deep-dish pizza has been our traditional Valentine's Day meal ever since we enjoyed this sinfully wonderful treat together in Chicago for Valentine's Day 4 years ago. But that's a topic for another post.
No, for everyday, homemade pizza that has all of the flavor of a pizzeria pizza at a tiny tiny fraction of the cost, we prefer thin crust.
I tried Who Knows how many pizza dough recipes before I had the aha moment--the moment Abe and I looked at each other with rapturous smiles and sighed, "This is The One." Up until that moment, I had been obsessive in my pursuit of great pizza, using umpteen recipes, flours, and baking methods, and I can unequivocally say that this recipe and method, while time-consuming, rewards every minute of waiting with exceptional chew and flavor, and you won't for a second wish you'd spent all your hard-earned cash on takeout pizza. This recipe makes 4 8" pizzas.
First, you'll need:
A heavy-duty stand mixer (like KitchenAid--you really can't make this without it)
A pizza stone (I have a Pampered Chef stone that I use, and also a cheapo pizza stone I bought on Ebay)
A pizza peel or cookie sheet without sides
The ingredients are simple:
First, you combine, and let sit for 5 minutes:
1 1/2 c. warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
In the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. cake flour
1 Tbsp. sea salt or kosher salt
Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture, and knead at low speed for 30 minutes.
Shape dough into a round, place in a large, lightly oiled bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise for 4 hours in a warm place.
Punch down dough, divide into 4 pieces, and shape the pieces into balls. Brush these lightly with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise another 2-4 hours.
Preheat the oven and pizza stone to 550 degrees.
Shape dough by pressing fingertips into ball and flattening from the center out. Grab the dough near the edge and rotate the round, allowing the dough to stretch as you turn (harnessing the power of gravity), stretching dough to desired circumference.
Brush pizza with olive oil, assembling your pizza on a well-floured (or you could use cornmeal)pizza peel or cookie sheet without sides. Slide onto the preheated stone, and bake for 5-8 minutes.
from Cuisine At Home magazine
A few notes:
I acquired this recipe from Cuisine at Home magazine, and this recipe is approved by the DOC, which is the Italian regulating board that governs pizza (!!!). I suppose DOC stands for "Official Pizza Rulers of the World," and according to them, authentic pizza can have only four ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and salt. In Italy, their flour has a different makeup, which is why this recipe calls for two types of American flour--this mixture approximates the amount of gluten in Italian flour.
I know the rise time seems excessive, but it really creates a much better depth of flavor than doughs that rely on sugar or honey to feed the yeast and speed up the rising process. Plus, even though you must start the dough 6-8 hrs. before you need it, it requires very little actual effort on your part.
That said, I know it is a commitment. But I cannot stress this enough: it is worth it!
To accompany the pizza, may I offer my very favorite pizza sauce recipe? Here it is:
1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed well (either use your hands or a food processor or blender)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano (or more--use according to preference)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Saute garlic in olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes (be careful not to scorch the garlic). Add the tomatoes, and season with kosher salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Add oregano before you apply to pizza--the oregano can get bitter if you add it too early.
I also like to let the sauce cool before I use it. Very often, I will make it while I am letting the Kitchen Aid do that first half-hour knead. Then it's done, and I can stash it in the fridge until I need it. Then, when it's pizza-making time, I have one less thing to do.
Can you make pizza with a quicker dough and bottled pizza sauce? Sure. In fact, if you use the preheated stone, it will probably not be bad. But for a truly great pizza experience, give this recipe a try sometime!
As a bonus, here's my favorite pizza variation--Abe doesn't like tomatoes, so Charis and I eat an entire one of these pizzas by ourselves. Oh, pizza needs to go on my Menu Plan soon!
(first made in honor of Queen Margherita, it was intended to showcase the colors of the Italian flag--red tomatoes, white cheese, and green basil.)
Pizza Dough, stretched to desired size and shape
Fresh tomatoes, sliced thin and drained on paper towels
Basil, dried, or fresh basil, chopped finely
Brush pizza dough with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Arrange tomatoes in a single layer. No need to be precise.
If using dried basil, sprinkle over the tomatoes now. (If you're using fresh, wait...)
Cover with fresh mozzarella (or you can use pre-shredded, it's just not quite as good)
Bake at 550 for 6-8 minutes.
If using fresh basil, scatter over the pizza immediately after you remove it from the oven.