We finally found the pizza crust recipe we've been looking for all our lives! Hoorah! It's actually a conglomeration of a couple of recipes.
I've been reading pizza recipes for a couple of months now, searching for the right crust. The simple ones are okay, but not what we've been looking for. There have been a couple which sounded great, but were extremely time and labor intensive, so they were never tried. I would love to try a pan crust, but Chris prefers the thin crust.
All this time Chris has been coming home from work at about 5:30 on Fridays, changing clothes, then he and Than start from scratch and make multiple pizzas. We eat at about 8. I do some of the prep work - slicing onions, tomatoes, olives, grating cheese, chopping basil and oregano, browning sausage with onion, basil and garlic. Mine is the fun job. Chris and Than make the crust then top the pizzas and bake. They're very good at it.
This week I made the crust. I used a new recipe, altering the directions based on multiple recipes I've seen the last month. Because I had the time to do it the way I wanted, it was GOOD. So for all of you who've been dying to know, here it is:
3 cups flour
1 envelope yeast (I used rapid rise)
2 T. sugar (it called for teaspoons, but I misread and used tablespoons - it worked)
1 t. salt
1 c. very warm water
2 T. olive oil
Add yeast and sugar to warm water and stir. Let this set in a warm place for 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt. Stir in yeast mixture and olive oil. Stir until dough forms. It's a wonderful, soft, elastic dough and forms a nice ball in the bowl. I like stirring by hand till it's just right. Mmmm.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 10 minutes. That's fun, too. Kneading the dough while frustrated is great therapy.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning the dough to coat it, and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Set in a warm, dry spot to rise for 45 minutes to an hour. I like to turn the oven on about 155 while I knead, then turn it off just before putting the dough in. Leave the door open a little. Toasty warm, but not too warm. Forty five minutes is more than enough to double the dough in that environment.
Now, to take your aggression out on the dough one more time, wash your hands, roll up your sleeves, and punch the living daylights out of your new doughy friend. Don't worry, dough doesn't cry. Now it will look very sad and saggy, but it will not cry. Hopefully you won't either. Cover that dough again and put it back in it's warm space for another 45 minutes to rise again (an old Don Fransisco song comes to mind - scary).
Now comes the fun part! The dough has risen twice and is looking pretty. Take it from the warm spot (especially if that's the oven), and heat your oven to 450 degrees F.
Lightly flour a board or counter, wash your hands again (I'm a stickler for hand washing), and turn that pretty dough out. This time you're going to knead the dough by turning the edges in on themselves. You know, like the pizza guys in the movies do, or in the specialty pizza shops. Do it! It's fun. Only for a minute or two. Then pat the ball of dough into a circle (see, I would have cut the dough in half at this point and made two smaller pies, but go ahead and make a large one for the whole family). Now is when you decide how much fun you want to have. We roll our dough out into a circle, but feel free to toss if you know how. Our dough winds up being thin, almost translucent. I always think it's too thin, but it bakes up quite nicely.
Once your circle is a little bigger than you want the pie (it's very elastic and will shrink), transfer the dough to your pan. It's fun to sprinkle cornmeal on the pan first. At this point you could let the dough sit for 15 or 20 minutes so it's thicker, or you can just top with a thin layer of sauce, then cheese and toppings now. Either is good. Then pop that bad boy into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it and check at about 12 to 15 minutes, looking for a rich golden brown crust and melted cheese.
Enjoy! We did. Nice crisp crust, flavorful. I think next time I'll add a little garic powder to the flour in the beginning. Yum!
Until I write again ...