Crazy for Crust

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Nov 16

Pizza Crust

I love pizza. Who doesn’t? Some people love it for the cheese and toppings, some love it for the sauce or the whole experience of it. What do I love about pizza? You guessed it. The Crust! It’s bread topped with cheese. What’s not to love?
In the past I’d always avoided making pizza at home because of my fear of yeast. I was always scared I would do something wrong and would kill the yeast and my dough wouldn’t rise. I’d subsisted on take-out pizza (delicious), Boboli (so-so) and the crust-in-a-can (not so great). Then I read a recipe in Food Network Magazine for pizza crust (without a bread machine) and I thought, why not? I’ll try it.
And it was wonderful. Make a double-batch-and-eat-it-all wonderful. Now I either make it myself or we order it out (but not nearly as often).
It’s super easy – if I can do it, so can you!
  
Whisk your flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well and add your sugar and yeast.
Add your water (warm, not too cold, not too hot) slowly and let it sit until you see little bubbles.
This is what it looks like after kneading; before rising.
Then stir (I use a wooden spoon; it’s too sticky to do by hand at this point) until the dough comes together. At that point, get in there with your hands and knead the dough until it forms a ball.  Cover and let sit on the counter until it doubles in size, about an hour and a half. (You can do it in the fridge if you have to make it longer ahead of time and it will rise slower.)  Here’s how it looks after rising:
 
I apologize for the photo. I’m still figuring out the best “it’s evening and it’s dark in here” light in my kitchen!
The recipe makes two pizzas, so divide the dough in half before stretching and rolling it to your desired size. I like a thicker crust, so I usually use a little more than half my dough. You can use a rolling pin, but I find stretching with my hands works the best.  Place your stretched out crust on parchment paper on an overturned cookie sheet. Top with desired fillings.
 
I find that the pizza cooks best at 450 degrees (in my oven). The original recipe called for a higher oven temp and it burned to a crisp too fast. After about 8 minutes start checking to make sure it’s not overcooking your crust.
And don’t just stick with cheese! There are so many variations. I really want to try and copythe sausage and pepper pizza from Il Fornaio restaurant. Mmmmm…  For right now, we stick to cheese. It’s the ONLY kind my daughter will even touch, and only then if the sauce isn’t showing AT ALL.
The rest of the dough freezes, if you don’t require two pizzas. Although I have been known to make two. And eat them.
Enjoy!
Pizza Crust Recipe
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