For me, pizza is all about the crust. When done right, it is a happy experience. When it goes wrong, no great topping can save it.
I spent over 15 years trying to find the ‘perfect’ recipe for pizza crust. I fiddled with a lot of different ingredients, but never got that nice balance of flavour, chew, and nice crisp, bubbly brown edges. What I wish I realised earlier, is that my ingredients were not the reason behind my failed attempts, but it was my technique.
Before tossing in the towel, I started reading The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart (lovely gift from my sister!); this book changed EVERYTHING.
As an amateur baker, I was always measuring each ingredient in a recipe, making sure I was as precise as possible. When attempting bread, I applied the same discipline – this was mistake #2. With experience, bread bakers get to know the feeling, smell and stretch texture of a dough, adjusting the ingredients according to the condition/type of flour, and humidity. What did I know?
The last technique did no come from the book, but from trial and error – the baking. I cook the pizza at a very high temperature – in my oven, I crank it to 465 degrees F. This high blast of heat helped keep my edges browned and crispy without getting dried out on the inside.
After reading and testing out this recipe, think I have finally found a crust recipe that has great flavour and texture – thanks to Peter Reinhart 😉
makes about x4 – 14″ thin crust pizzas
Recipe adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhardt
3 3/4 cups Flour (I use unbleached all-purpose), +1 cup on the side
1 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 3/4 cups very cold water
1.) Take all of the above ingredients (except for 1 cup of flour, keep it on the side) and mix using an electric mixer with the dough hook on low speed until all ingredients come together, no flour lumps. This can also be mixed by hand in a big bowl, but will take longer.
2.) Continue to mix the dough on medium speed. It will probably look sticky, more like a thick batter at this point. Add a bit of the flour we kept on the side, only adding a few tablespoons at a time while mixing, and don’t add more until all of the flour has been mixed into the dough. Stop adding flour then the dough pulls away and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
3.) Stop the mixer, and touch the dough to see if it sticks to your hands, if it does – keep adding flour. Thee dough is finished mixing when the window pane test is ay ok.
4.) Place in a greased bowl (min 2x the size of your dough, and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. To save space, I store the dough in a greased X-large plastic zip lock bag. whichever you prefer, put the dough in the fridge to rest for at least 24 hours.
To bake the pizza, take the dough out of the fridge, and divide them in smooth mounds, oil the surface, and place them on a baking sheet with plastic or humid towel for about 1 hour to get them back up to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to about 465 degrees F (test your oven to adjust accordingly).
Shape dough on floured piece of parchment paper, then add all of your desired toppings I like to work on top of a light weight wooden cutting board, makes the next step much easier…
Once the oven is ready, slide your pizza with parchment paper straight onto the oven grill and bake for 5-10 min.