Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thin-Crust Pizza

Anyone who has been around for a while might remember the first time I tried to make pizza dough. It was an utter disaster. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth and sticky dough everywhere. I’ve always envied those people who do homemade pizza every Friday night with their own dough as if it is the easiest thing in the world. For me, pizza dough was almost always a production that involved a fair amount of angst and raised voices. If pizza was on the menu, Joe knew to steer clear of the kitchen lest my wrath towards the pizza dough be misdirected towards him. Until now.


This was the pizza night that almost didn’t happen. I made the dough 24 hours ahead of time (easily! in the food processor!), on Thursday afternoon, to give it plenty of time to rise, but when I was at the grocery store on Friday to pick up a few extras, Joe called me to tell me that he was very sick, was coming home to collapse, and probably wouldn’t be feeling up to dinner. So I had a glass of wine and wandered around the house, until at 8:30 pm, Joe announced that I could begin making the pizza. Well, the dough needed an hour to come to room temperature, and I wasn’t about to wait until 9:30 to eat. Then we had relatives in town for the rest of the weekend, so pizza wasn’t going to happen the next night. After a huge brunch, we needed something for dinner on Sunday but could actually wait for the dough to stand while we finished watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.


The dough! The dough rolled out perfectly without all the stickiness that I usually experience even after throwing flour at it. And look at those crust bubbles in the picture above. I have NEVER gotten crust bubbles, just like at a real pizza place. And it wasn’t soggy. I could hold a piece and not have it wilt and cause all the toppings to slide off. Even Joe remarked that our pizza night was uncharacteristically successful. He got to top his with pesto, fresh mozzarella, and Boar’s Head pepperoni, like so:


And I stuck with traditional tomato sauce, an Italian blend of cheeses, and mushrooms. We each only ate half a pizza, so there were leftovers the next day as well.


Thin-Crust Pizza Dough
source: Cook’s Illustrated as seen on Oishii Food


1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 TBS. olive oil, plus extra
1 1/3 cups  ice water
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
3 cups bread flour, plus extra
Cornmeal (optional)


  • At least 24 Hours before prepare the dough. In a food processor, process the flour, sugar, and yeast until combined. With the machine running, slowly add ice water through the feed tube and process until a dough forms and no dry flour remains. Let dough stand for 10 minutes.
  • Add oil and salt and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball – about 30 to 60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl, knead briefly on lightly oiled work area until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
  • One hour before baking the pizza, adjust the oven rack to the second highest position and place a baking stone on the rack to preheat. Preheat the oven to 500˚ degrees.
  • Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator and divide in half. Form each half into a ball and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, with at least 3 to 5 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with cooking spray and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • Coat 1 ball of dough generously with flour, and place on a well-floured counter top. Using fingertips, gently flatten into 8-inch disk. Leave 1 inch of the outer edge a little thicker, while gently stretching the middle until you have a 12-inch round. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper and spread a handful of cornmeal on the paper (if using). Place the dough on the paper.
  • Spread sauce (tomato or pesto) over pizza, add a couple handfuls of cheese and your choice of toppings. Carefully lift the parchment paper with pizza on-top and place onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling, about 10-12 minutes. Remove pizza and place on wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
  • Repeat steps above to make and bake second pizza. Enjoy with your favorite bottle of red wine.