Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Very Favorite (Easy!) Pizza Crust

I will make almost any kind of food at home because I'm stubborn like that, but secretly, I do think some food is best made by the professionals.  They've got special equipment or ingredients or knowledge that I would prefer to leave with them.  I'm thinking of sushi, macarons, artisan sourdough bread, croissants, and yes, pizza.

I have blogged about homemade pizza a lot over the life of this blog, but it was always second-best to the pizza shop a few blocks away.  This revelation might hurt my thrifty cred, I know, but it's the truth.

But I have a new truth!

In the past, I saw two routes for homemade pizza dough:  a yeast dough that is like bread, or an artisan dough that requires pizza peels and baking stones. I adore homemade bread, but I don't like that flavor and texture under pizza sauce and cheese.  And I'm not willing to store big single-use items (the peel and stones) for the occasional pizza.

My new truth, my third route, is this crust from Smitten Kitchen that I've been making for at least 2 months.  I like that it's not fussy and  I can slap it together in minutes with pantry staples.  When it's time to make pizza, I just have to stretch the dough out into the pans; this stretching does take some getting used to, but it is totally worth it to me when I consider the alternatives.  And the flavor and texture of this crust is amazing!

naked dough
If you recall the phenomenon of the no-knead bread from Jim Lahey, this pizza dough borrows his technique of a pinch of yeast and a long setting time (it doesn't rise in the true yeast-bread manner).  Then it is baked in a super-hot oven to give a chewy, non-yeasty crust that definitely reminds me of a pizza shop. . . made homemade with love and whole-wheat flour.  Yesssss!

Lazy Pizza Dough, slightly tweaked from Smitten Kitchen

Mix in large lidded bowl:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/8 tsp. yeast for a 22 hour rise-time (use 1/4 tsp. for 12 hours and 1/2 tsp. for 6 hours)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups water

Mix until craggy dough forms.  May add another Tbsp. water.  Cover tightly and allow to sit at room temperature for the time you chose with the amount of yeast you chose.  Grease two 11x14 rimmed baking sheets (or equivalent) and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Divide dough in half.  Flour it lightly so it doesn't cling so much to your fingers.  Pat/stretch/dangle dough to fill each pan.  I find it helps to "play piano" with my fingertips to push it out.  Put on toppings.  Bake in lower racks of oven at 500F for 13-16 minutes.

Note:  May refrigerate dough once it has risen.  It can hold this way for 3 days, but set it out at room temperature for 2-3 hours before using.  I have also successfully frozen the dough.

Breakfast one morning: spinach and brie and pizza crust.  Amazing.


Alica said...

Book marked this one! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Margo. I found your blog through Barb's. That pizza looks so delicious. We are having pizza for dinner but just DiGiornos. I'm busy packing.

Mrs R

Unknown said...

Well now, this looks promising! I feel the same way about homemade pizza crust and have been tweaking mine for years! Will have to give this one a try : )

Jan said...

Oooh... spinach and brie pizza for breakfast!!! You've got a new follower!!! Jx

jenny_o said...

I will definitely try this. I've been using one recipe for years now but it sometimes turns out the way you described, more like bread than pizza crust, depending on how long it sits while I'm cutting and grating other ingredients. Thanks for sharing your findings.

I'm also fascinated by the way you've put your cheese on, in long thin sheets. I'd give quite a bit to avoid grating cheese, but never thought of simply laying slices on. It looks like they melt just fine for you. Any additional tips in that regard?

Lana said...

Perfecting pizza is a real thing!! I worked on mine for many years and hubby likes mine better than from out and that is an accomplishment! I do use a stone but not a peel. I heat the stone to super hot and than put the pizza pan on the peel for 6 minutes. At that point I give it a big shake and slide it off the pan directly onto the stone to finish baking. I mainly make it at home now so that I don't have to drive to the pizza shop and pick it up since we live out in the country.

Margo said...

Jenny-o, I also hate grating cheese. I buy whatever mozzarella (not fresh) is cheapest - sometimes the pre-shredded is quite inexpensive so I keep the bag in the freezer. Other times, the block is cheaper. I just slice it with my cheese slicer (similar to this: http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-330-Adjustable-Cheese-Slicer/dp/B000HMB0IM/ref=lp_289760_1_1?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1416433588&sr=1-1). I think it gives the pizza an artisanal look, don't you? :) It melts just fine.

Margo said...

Lana, that's a very clever solution!

jenny_o said...

Thanks, Margo. I also wanted to say how much I like your sentence "I have a new truth" ... I've been turning that over in my mind since reading it earlier. It's so apt for life in general, isn't it?

Hazel said...

Pinned! We (nearly) always have pizza on a Friday, but I'm out running Rainbows (?Daisy Scouts??) in the late afternoon, so how my crust turns out depends on how organised I've been. Will definitely try this on Friday.

I never grate mozzarella. I don't grate any cheese if at all possible (I use a potato peeler quite often for hard Parmesan-type cheeses) but I always slice mozzarella for pizzas- it melts well enough anyway.

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

looks fantastic..
I agree with you..the pizza shops crust...is just GOOD!!
This sounds good and easy. Will try it.

Polly said...

Oh, this post makes me long for gluten. I have simply not been able to perfect a gluten-free pizza crust. I usually just make a polenta pizza, but I'm neutral on that!

I love your pizza incarnations!

Sarah Barry said...

Margo, I have made this pizza crust twice and it is perfection! Thanks for the recipe.

Margo said...

Sarah, yay!! So glad you like it.