Successfully making thin crust pizza at home is not an easy task. When I have tried before I end up with a crust that over cooked and cracker like, or one that is limp and under cooked. That is why I was so happy to see that Cook’s Illustrated had done some testing and made some discoveries.
Their big finding was that it is better to use all-purpose flour than bread flour or other high protein flours. The bread flour retains less water than lower protein all-purpose. In a red-hot 800 degree pizza oven this doesn’t matter being the crust browns and the toppings melt before the crust has a chance to dry out. However in a home oven that only heats to a measly 500 degrees, a bread flour based crust will get all dried out. I haven’t had a chance to try this on normal crusts, but the thin crust pizza I tried with all-purpose flour definitely backs this up. Go for an all-purpose flour with less than 10.5% protein, I used Gold Medal All-purpose. King Arthur all-purpose flour might have too much protein.
The other great suggestion from Cook’s Illustrated is rolling out the dough, and covering it with plastic wrap. When you cover it you do not have to keep adding flour to the top to keep it from sticking. They also recommend rolling out the dough right on parchment paper which you bake it on in the oven. Also, pizza stones definitely help achieve that crisp crust.
You will end up a dough that has more flavor and is easier to work with if you let it rise overnight. If you are in a hurry you can up the instant yeast to 1 1/4 tsp and let the dough rise for an hour before rolling it out.
Thin Crust Pizza
From: Cook’s Illustrated
- 10 oz unbleached all-purpose flour (about 2 cups), preferably Gold Medal, protein content no higher than 10.5 percent
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast (1 1/4 tsp if you do not want to do an overnight rise)
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 6.2 ounces water (about 3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons), preferably filtered or spring, 100 to 105 degrees
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup tomato sauce (see recipe below)
- 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella (about 2 cups), shredded
Quick Tomato Sauce
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 1 large clove garlic , minced, or pressed through garlic press
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
The Night Before
- Combine flour, yeast, honey, and salt in workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. (You can also mix with a mixer or by hand, I used a mixer and it was fine, just make sure you reserve some of the water as directed.) With machine running, add all but 2 tablespoons water through feed tube. With machine still running, add olive oil through feed tube and process until dough forms a ball, about 30 seconds. Turn dough out onto work surface.
- A freshly processed dough with adequate water will look shaggy and stick to the counter. A few “throws” against the counter will help the dough become supple and fine-textured.
- On the other hand, a freshly processed dough that is too dry will form a clean ball, feel more oily than moist, and look slightly curdy on the surface.
- To moisten a processed dough that is too dry, add 1 teaspoon water and throw the dough against the counter 10 times. The dough may take up to 2 teaspoons additional water.
- A properly kneaded dough with enough water will be supple and fine-textured. Though moist and sticky, the dough should have structure and not feel “batter-like.”
- Place dough in gallon-sized, heavy-duty zipper-lock plastic bag and seal. Refrigerate overnight or up to 48 hours.
- Adjust oven rack to lowest position, set baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Heat baking stone 1 hour before proceeding.
- Remove dough from plastic bag and divide in half with pastry scraper. Set each half in center of lightly floured large sheet parchment paper. Flatten the each dough lump into a circle. Cover each with two 18-inch lengths plastic wrap overlapping in center (alternatively, use one 18-inch length of extrawide plastic wrap); let doughs rest 10 minutes.
- Setting one dough aside, roll the other dough into a 14-inch round with even thinness of 1/32-inch, using tackiness of dough against parchment to help roll.
- Peel off plastic wrap, sauce dough, then sprinkle with about 1 cup cheese. With scissors, trim excess parchment so that it is just larger than dough.
- Slip dough with parchment onto pizza peel, inverted rimmed baking sheet, or rimless cookie sheet, then slide onto hot baking stone. Bake until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. (My pizzas took only 8 minutes.) Remove from oven with pizza peel or pull parchment with pizza onto baking sheet. Transfer pizza to cutting board, slide parchment out from under pizza; cut pizza into wedges and slide onto wire rack. Let cool 2 minutes until crisp; serve. (We didn’t have the patience to wait the two minutes, and instead devoured them in those minutes)
- While first pizza is baking, repeat steps 3 and 4 to roll and sauce the second pizza; allow baking stone to reheat 15 minutes after baking first pizza, then repeat step 5 to bake the second pizza.
Quick Tomato Sauce
- Process tomatoes in workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade until smooth, about five 1-second pulses.
- Heat garlic and oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until garlic is sizzling, about 40 seconds. Stir in tomatoes; bring to simmer and cook, uncovered, until sauce thickens enough to coat wooden spoon, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.