Make Pizza the RIGHT Way
When I was in elementary school, my mom had my friends and I make our own personal pan-size pizzas for my birthday party. On the table there would be an assortment of goodies to decorate our pizzas with. Yes, I do mean decorate. I would try to arrange my toppings into a face using pepperoni for eyes and olives for a mouth. My friends and I would always make a mess, but it was entertaining…for the kids at least.
For the pizza dough my mom used a pretzel dough recipe. It worked well because it was relatively quick and easy to make. The dough also had the extra added benefit of being sturdy and able to be vigorously handled and shaped by young kids. Most pizza connoisseurs probably would stick their noses up at it’s thick and bread-y texture, but hey it was PRETZEL dough.
Anyways, years later, I have a hankering to make the most authentic thin crust pizza possible in a college dorm. Call me CRAZY, but 3 smoke detector alarms, a nasty burn, and an incredibly smoky room later I achieved the perfect crust. My method of madness can be read below, but be forewarned that this recipe is kind of a dangerously-stupid if you don’t have the proper ventilation like me.
For this project you will need a pizza stone. Occasionally, you can find a pizza stone at your local TJ Maxx or you can buy one from Amazon for $24.48. I was really lucky and my wonderful roommate brought one from home! In order to achieve a nice crispy bottom, you must preheat your pizza stone in the oven about a 1/2 hour before you plan on baking your pizza.
Just like pasta, in order to make an authentic pizza crust, you must have type “00” flour. Red wheat flour’s gluten formation is optimal for pizza crust because it gives it that nice chewy texture. I purchased my 1 kg bag from Whole Foods for about $5.
Making the Dough
Creating the perfect pizza dough is a bit of an art. While it is fun, the process does take some proper planning. Start making your dough about 2 1/2 hours before you plan on eating.
In a bowl mix 1 1/4 cups of lukewarm water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar, and a 1/4 ounce packet of yeast. Set this concoction off to the side for bit.
Next you will need to create a well with 4 1/2 cups of flour and 1 rounded teaspoon of salt in a bowl. Do this by putting the flour and salt into a bowl, and then make a crater in the flour using your fist. Carefully, pour the yeast mixture into the well.
Using a fork or your fingers, gradually mix the yeast mixture with the flour by stirring from the center of the bowl to the edges. Once the dough starts to form you may need to add a little water if it is too stiff, or a little flour if it is too sticky. Remember though, it is always easier to add more, but it is impossible to take out.
Your dough should now be soft to the touch and look crumbly. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface, then turn your dough out onto it.
Knead your dough gathering in the bits of dough and flour until it is smooth, soft, and springy to the touch. It should look like a baby’s cheek.
Give the dough a final flour dusting before returning it to the bowl and covering it for an hour or until it has doubled in size. If it is cold in the kitchen, you can set your oven to warm and place the dough inside for an hour.
After an hour your dough should be about twice its original size. Flour your work surface again. Place the dough on the floured surface and punch it down, by literally punching the dough to get the air out. It’s a good anger management tool.
Cut the dough into 3-4 pieces.
Knead each piece of dough and form them into little balls by gathering the edges underneath and creating a soft dimpled pillow on top.
Using your finger tips, work in a circular motion and press out the dough balls into 8-9 inch rounds and about 3/8″ thick. You will want to continuously move the dough and flour it so that it does not stick to your work surface. Once the dough is rolled out, spray or rub each round with some olive oil to make them crispy.
Top your pizza with your favorite sauce, cheese, and toppings. For my tomato sauce, I like to use Marcella Hazan’s recipe, which can be found here. However, you can always use a jar of Prego. For my toppings, I like pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, anchovies, capers, and green pimiento olives. I call it the “Salt Bomb”. You can also use pesto for your sauce if you want something different. I have also listed some topping combinations below:
Pizza Supreme: Marinara, mozzarella, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, sausage, and pepperoni
Hawaiian: Pineapple, ham, marinara, and mozzarella
Garlic Lovers Delight: Pesto, mozzarella, whole roasted garlic cloves, sliced portobellos, and sausage
Chicken Pizza: Pesto, mozzarella, and chicken breast slices.
Carnivore’s Delight: Marinara, mozzarella, bacon, sausage, pepperoni, and ham.
Once you have selected your topping, place your pizzas on the pizza stone, and put it in a fiery hot 550 F oven for 8 minutes. YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY HAVE THE PROPER VENTILATION AND A CLEAN OVEN OR ELSE YOU RUN THE RISK OF SMOKING UP YOUR KITCHEN OR SETTING OFF AN OVEN FIRE. I unfortunately learned the hard way.
Don’t they look delicious?!?!
Time: 2 1/2 hours
- 4 1/2 c”00″ flour and extra for dusting
- 1 rounded teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 oz. pkt of yeast
- 1 1/2 tsps of sugar
- 2 T of olive oil and some for rubbing
- 1 1/4 c lukewarm water
- Preheat oven and pizza stone to 550F 1/2 hour before putting your pizza into the oven
- In a bowl, mix the yeast, sugar, olive oil and lukewarm water and set it off to the side
- In another bowl, mix the salt and the flour and then make a well in it using your fist
- Carefully pour the yeast mixture into the well
- Use a spoon or your fingers to gradually mix the flour and the yeast together
- Turn the crumbly dough out onto a floured surface
- Knead the dough until it is soft, smooth, and springy to the touch
- Place the dough in a covered bowl and let rise for an hour
- After an hour, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and punch it down
- Divide the dough into 3-4 pieces and knead each piece into a little ball
- Use your finger tips to press each dough ball out into a 8-9 inch round
- Top your pizza with your choice of toppings
- Place the pizza on a pizza stone and into the oven for 8 minutes
- Let pizza cool a little bit before cutting and devouring your creation