For the past several months, Susan and I have been experimenting with making pizza. We thought that we had discovered the perfect pizza crust until we tried America’s Test Kitchen Thin Crust Pizza.
The crust is similar to the Neo-Neopolitan Pizza Dough from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day that we used for the Margherita Pizza. I think it’s preferable, however for two reasons. First, it makes enough dough for three crusts rather than five. Second, the food processor does all of the work, rather than the hand mixing required for the Neo-Neopolitan Pizza Dough.
Starting with the pizza dough – the ingredients include bread flour, salt, sugar, yeast, oil and water.
I added all of the flour, sugar and yeast to the bowl of my food processor fitted with a metal blade, and processed for about 5 seconds. With machine running, I slowly added water through feed tube and processed the mixture until dough was just combined and no dry flour remained, about 10 seconds.
I let the dough stand for about 10 minutes, added the oil and salt, and processed it for about 45 seconds, until it was satiny and cleared the sides of the bowl.
I removed dough from bowl of the food processor and kneaded it briefly on lightly oiled piece of parchment paper until it was smooth. This took about 1 minute. Then, I shaped the dough into 3 tight balls, about 9 ounces each, lightly oiled each ball, and placed each piece in a ziploc sandwich bags. This was refrigerated for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
The day that we made the pizzas, I made the sauce. The ingredients for the sauce included whole canned tomatoes, olive oil, white wine vinegar, garlic, salt, dried oregano and freshly ground black pepper.
The first step was draining the canned tomatoes in a wire strainer. I took care to remove as many of the seeds as possible.
I added the drained tomatoes and remaining sauce ingredients to the bowl of my food processor fitted with a metal blade, and processed the mixture until it was smooth. This took about 30 seconds. I transferred the sauce to a covered container and refrigerated it until it was ready to use.
Now for the pizza itself! The ingredients included the prepared dough, the prepared sauce, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
One to two hours before making pizza, I removed dough from refrigerator and removed it from the ziploc bags. I shaped each piece into smooth, tight balls, and placed them on a lightly oiled piece of parchment paper, spacing them at least 3 inches apart. I covered the dough loosely with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray, and let them stand until ready to for pizzas.
One hour before baking the pizza, I adjusted the oven rack to second highest position (rack should be about 4 to 5 inches below broiler), set the pizza stone on the rack, and heated oven to 450° F.
This is where Susan stepped in. She coated one ball of dough generously with flour and placed it on well-floured piece of parchment paper. Using her fingertips, she gently flattened each piece into an 8-inch disk, leaving 1 inch of outer edge slightly thicker than center. She let the dough rest 10 minutes. Using her hands, she gently stretched each disk into a 10-inch round, working along the edges and giving the disk quarter turns as stretched. She then transferred the dough to piece of reusable parchment and let it rest for another 10 minutes. Finally, she stretch each disk into a 12-inch round.
Using the back of a ladle, she spread ½ cup tomato sauce in thin layer over surface of dough, leaving ¼-inch border around edge.
She then sprinkled 1 to 2 Tablespoons of chopped basil. This was followed by ¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled evenly over sauce, followed by 1¼ cups of shredded mozzarella.
She carefully slid the reusable parchment with pizza onto a pizza peel.
Then she slid the pizza on the reusable parchment from the peel onto stone and baked it until the crust was well browned and the cheese was bubbly and beginning to brown. This took about 8 minutes.
She carefully removed pizza onto the pizza peel, and placed it on wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. She repeated this with the remaining pizza ingredients.
The result was three incredibly tasty thin crust pizzas. Yum!
3 cups (16½ ounces) bread flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1⅓ cups ice water (10½ ounces)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for work surface
1½ teaspoons table salt
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and liquid discarded
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red or white wine vinegar
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
16 ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
Chopped fresh basil
For the Dough: In a food processor fitted with metal blade, process flour, sugar, and yeast until combined, about 5 seconds. With machine running, slowly add water through feed tube; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand 10 minutes.
Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of work bowl, 30 to 60 seconds.
Shape the dough into 3 balls approximately 9 ounces each. Lightly oil each ball and place in individual ziploc sandwich bags. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
For the Sauce: Drain the tomatoes in a wire strainer, removing as many of the seeds as possible. Add the tomatoes and remaining sauce ingredients to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to medium bowl or container and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Pizza: One to two hours before making pizza, remove dough from refrigerator and remove from ziploc bags. Shape each into smooth, tight balls. Place on lightly oiled piece of parchment or waxed paper, spacing them at least 3 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray; let stand until ready to for pizzas.
One hour before baking the pizza, adjust oven rack to second highest position (rack should be about 4 to 5 inches below broiler), set pizza stone on rack, and heat oven to 450° F.
Coat one ball of dough generously with flour and place on well-floured piece of parchment paper. Using fingertips, gently flatten into 8-inch disk, leaving 1 inch of outer edge slightly thicker than center. Let rest 10 minutes. Using hands, gently stretch disk into 10-inch round, working along edges and giving disk quarter turns as you stretch. Transfer dough to piece of reusable parchment. Let rest for 10 minutes. Stretch disk into a 12-inch round.
Using back of spoon or ladle, spread ½ cup tomato sauce in thin layer over surface of dough, leaving ¼-inch border around edge. Sprinkle ¼ cup Parmesan evenly over sauce, followed by 2 cups of mozzarella. Sprinkle on 1 to 2 Tablespoons of chopped basil.
Carefully slide reusable parchment with pizza onto stone and bake until crust is well browned and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pizza and place on wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Repeat with remaining pizza ingredients.* Yield: Three 12-inch pizzas.
*We have found that whole pizzas that are cooked for a minute less can be frozen and reheated later on. Freeze the whole pizzas. Place frozen pizza on cardboard cake round. Completely cover with plastic wrap. Completely cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Store in freezer in large ziploc bags.