Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thin Crust Pizza

There is an endless war raging. Not between two countries but between two cities. New York and Chicago. Thick pizza crusts or thin. Now deep-dish pizzas are wonderful. The chewiness of the crust works when the toppings are piled high, and given the high walls of the crust; there is no worry that the cheesy toppings will slip off onto your unsuspecting pants.

That said, there simply is no comparison to a crispy, crunchy, almost burnt pizza crust that barely supports the light-handed amount of toppings. Indeed, crust is what makes the pizza. And with pizza dough so easy to make, there is no excuse for buying pre-made, chemical-laden dough, or worse, (cover your eyes!), a frozen pizza.

When you labor over your own pizza- observing the dough rise, stretching it onto a pan, shredding your own cheese, chopping your own vegetables- it is miraculously better than any pizza ever made in the history of pizzas. The labor of love is real, and you can sense it in your taste buds.

Pizza Dough (makes two crusts)
From Jim Lahey's My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method

3 ¾ cups bread flour, (all-purpose works too)

2 ½ teaspoon yeast

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ + a pinch teaspoon sugar

1 1/3 cups room temperature water

Extra virgin olive oil for the pan

Sift the flour, yeast, salt and sugar together. Add the water and mix with hands or a spatula, until combined. The dough will be slightly stiff. Place in a bowl and cover with a cloth for 2 hours.

After it has risen, gently pull the dough onto a floured surface and divide into two balls. Cover one of the dough balls with a damp cloth for 30 minutes, and put the other ball into an oiled freezer bag to use another time.

After 30 minutes, oil a baking sheet with olive oil very well. Stretch dough onto the sheet to the edges.

Pizza Sauce (for 1 dough)

1 can no-salt added diced tomatoes

2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon thyme

few dashes of red pepper flakes

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or a blender. Smear all over the dough with a spatula.

Suggested Toppings
The sky is really the limit when making your own pizza, but here are some interesting ideas to get you started:

-For the pizza in the photograph, I shaved a good Swiss cheese, sliced half a yellow onion, and sprinkled chopped zucchini.

-Margarita Pizza: Buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, sliced tomatoes.

-Green Pizza: Pesto sauce, artichoke hearts, Parmesan shavings.

To Bake:
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, and slide the baking sheet with the dough and toppings in. Check after 15 minutes. It is ready when the edges begin to darken, and the center has cooked through.

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