Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Perfect Pizza Crust #1

I have many recipes for pizza dough, but this one - which my brother René and his lovely wife Leslie passed along several years ago - is the easiest and the best. It costs only pennies and makes two large crusts. Below, I’ve included another of my favorite pizza dough recipes, as well as a couple of my favorite pizzas. Pizza is very, very easy to make - and you can top it with almost anything. Because it uses quick-rise yeast, this first recipe takes hardly any time at all! 

The Perfect Pizza Crust #1:

3-to-3-½ c. all-purpose flour, divided
1 pkg. (2-¼ tsp.) quick-rise yeast
¾ tsp. salt (do not reduce)
¼ tsp. dried oregano
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. very warm water (120-to-130 deg. F.)
Cornmeal, as needed

Preheat oven to 400 deg. F. In large bowl, combine 2 c. flour, yeast, salt, and oregano. Add olive oil to water, quickly stirring into flour mixture with clean hands. Gradually, add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough (see Note). Knead in bowl 4-to-6 min., until dough feels smooth and elastic, adding extra flour as needed. Cover and let rest 10-to-15 min. Spray-oil two 12-in. (30 cm) pizza pans. Sprinkle surface with cornmeal. 

Gather up dough, dividing in half and flattening slightly. Roll each half very thinly on lightly floured surface with lightly floured pin (I use a pastry mat and a rolling pin cover). Slip into cornmeal-sprinkled pizza pan. Top as desired. Bake 15 min. Turn oven heat to broil setting. With rack still in center of oven, broil 2 additional min. Makes 2 large thin-crust pizzas.

Note: The amount of extra flour you need depends on the temperature, humidity, and other factors. I recently made this pizza dough on a dry, cold day when the temperature dipped below freezing. I needed a total of only 3 c. flour. You’ll know when youve added enough by the way the dough “feels.” I haven’t tried making this crust with whole wheat flour or unbleached flour, but have a hunch it would be excellent. 

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.

Knead until dough becomes smooth and elastic. 

Sprinkle prepared pans with cornmeal.

Roll from center out for even thickness and size

This is the ideal thickness for a thin-crust pizza.

Prick crust to prevent air bubbles. Pinch 
edges of dough to contain fillings.

Tip! You can refrigerate pizza dough for up to 24 hours. Here’s how:
• Transfer kneaded dough to a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap. Refrigerate, removing from fridge 1 hr. before shaping crust. Or ...
• Roll or shape kneaded dough on lightly floured surface. Place on cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet or pizza pan. Cover with spray-greased plastic wrap. Refrigerate. Remove dough from fridge, topping and baking as desired.

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