Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pizza Crust

Most people think that homemade pizza won't be as good as one from a real pizzeria. Really, there are very few things that you need to make excellent pizza at home: a pizza peel (you gotta get the pizza in and out of the oven), a pizza stone (or some ceramic tiles from a hardware store), and a good dough recipe. Now while you need to spend money on the first two, I've got you covered on the last one!

  • 4.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm (not hot) water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon fine salt)
  • 1 package instant yeast
  • cornmeal for the pizza peel and stone

Put about half the flour into the work bowl of a stand mixer. Add the water, salt, and yeast and stir to combine. When it is all combined, put a greased dough hook on the mixer and put on medium speed. Slowly add flour, increasing power as needed to keep the hook moving, until the dough climbs up the hook and is not very sticky (you may need only 4 out of the total 4.5 cups this recipe calls for - don't just add it all as you don't want the dough too dry). Knead for 5-10 minutes, or until you can pull a little piece of dough off and stretch it into a thin membrane (known as a "baker's window" because you can almost see through it). Put the dough into a bowl more than twice its size, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for an hour. If you do not want to start cooking after an hour of rise, place in the refrigerator until you want to start cooking.

Put your pizza stone on the bottom rack of a cold oven and remove any other racks. Set the oven to 450 and turn on.

Lightly flour a clean countertop or large cutting board. With floured hands, place the dough ball on the work surface and start stretching to match the size of your pizza stone (if you want thin and crispy crust, only use half the dough per pizza). When the dough is stretched out almost as much as you need, pull the edges out a little bit and pinch together a lip of dough for the crust on all sides. Lay the dough flat on the work surface and make it bumpy by "knocking" it with your knuckles or fingertips. Put a thin layer of cornmeal on the pizza peel and carefully move the crust to the peel. Add sauce (sparingly), cheese and a topping or two. Sprinkle a thin layer of cornmeal onto the hot pizza stone and carefully slide the pizza off the peel onto the stone. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is crispy.

SPECIAL PREVIEW: If you wait for Thursday, there will be a post for the best set of sauce and toppings for this pizza you can do!

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