For many years, my sisters and I have been searching for the perfect pizza crust. A pizza crust the likes of our childhood pizza escapades to Telepizza (a Spanish pizza chain). Their crust is firm, chewy, and full of delightful holes. Stretchy, not at all floppy, browned, glorious. We have wanted to recreate this crust for so long.
Finally, Erica landed on a crust that, while not in the realms of Telepizza glory, is certainly getting closer than ever before. In fact, it’s the best homemade pizza crust I’ve ever made.
I’ll even add that I’m sticking with this one unless she comes up with something better in the years ahead. I’m committing–ceasing my search. Resting my case. And enjoying the wonder that is the Firm and Chewy Pizza Crust.
And by the way, while you’re at it, you all should check out Erica’s blog–she posted a recipe for zucchini fritter thingies last week that has my mouth watering.
Now let’s make some pizza dough!
(makes 2 medium to large pizzas)
3 cups bread flour + extra for kneading
1 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt
1 – 1 1/3 cup lukewarm water
I just have to interject my amazement here–isn’t the simplicity of these ingredients fabulous? After perusing recipes that contain sugar, honey, special flours, mixes of different kinds of special flours, etc., I could hardly believe that this great crust didn’t have any bells and whistles.
Put the bread flour in a large bowl, stirring in the yeast and salt.
Stir in the water until a soft (not sticky) dough forms.
Start with a cup, and add up to 1/3 cup more as needed.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface . . .
. . . and knead for 3 minutes, adding flour if the dough starts sticking to your hands or the surface.
By the end of the 3 minutes, the dough should be very soft. Or, as the French like to say it, très softée.
Sprinkle the bowl with flour, put the lump of dough back in, and sprinkle the top with flour as well.
Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it sit in a warm place for 2 hours.
An hour before you’re ready to bake, heat the oven to 500 F with a pizza stone inside, on the lowest rack (close to the element). You want the pizza stone to heat up gradually with the oven.
This is also a great time to prep your toppings! For extra delicousness, I browned the mushrooms in a skillet:
I browned the pineapple too for my Hawaiian pizza, and man did that make those pieces of fruit sing a song of celebration!
When the dough is done rising (see how much bigger it is?) . . .
. . . turn it out onto a lightly floured counter and divide it into two pieces. Flatten each piece into a disc and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
Cut two large pieces of parchment paper, and shape one pizza on each piece of paper, trying to avoid using the rolling pin to extend the dough (which will squash out the desirable air bubbles). If you want a nice thick crust along the edges, leave extra thickness around the perimeter.
Add the toppings you want–tomato sauce, veggies, cheese–leaving the crust area clear so that it will puff up in the oven. We did one Hawaiian which was to my taste . . .
. . . and one laden with pepperoni.
For my pepperoni-crazed husband.
I piled on three different kinds of cheeses–mozzarella, an Italian mix, and a little gouda.
Also, you’ll notice that I folded the crust over at the edges to make it thicker, but that didn’t turn out so well. When I made this recipe again the following week, I simply left a thicker rim around the edge, and it turned out much better. I guess it needed to freedom and space to poof to its fullest potential . . . or something.
Slide the parchment paper with the pizza on top onto the hot baking stone and bake for 10-14 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbly.
This is when the period of intense waiting begins.
It’s a good idea to remain as close to the oven as possible, so that you can spring on that pizza the very moment it’s edible.
And it’s ready!!!
(sorry for the dark blue tones up yonder–I swear it looked different on the Mac when I was messing with the pics!)
I slide the parchment from the oven straight onto a cutting board.
And I always use my mom’s trick–cutting the pizza with kitchen scissors!
Works like a charm, as long as you don’t burn your fingers off on the hot cheese.
My husband was highly dubious of the Hawaiian pizza, so we cut him a very tiny piece.
I was especially curious to hear his reaction on the crust.
He chews . . . he thinks . . .
. . . and ladies and gentlemen, it’s an enthusiastic thumbs up!!
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