Sunday, March 25, 2012

Homemade Pizza With Cracker Thin Crust

Tonight the whole family came over for dinner, so I made some homemade pizzas and a big Italian salad.The recipe for the dough came from the latest issue of Fine Cooking. Because the dough recipe is so extensive, I had to "cheat" a little to give you the recipe...

For the ingredients and instructions on how to combine them, click here

After you have mixed up and refrigerated your dough, there are a few more steps before you can assemble your pizzas. These instructions are copy-and-pasted directly from finecooking.com:

"At least 30 minutes before baking, position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and if using a pizza stone, set it on the rack. (If you don’t have a stone, use a heavy-duty 13x18-inch baking sheet lightly oiled with olive oil.) Heat the oven to 550°F. If using a pizza stone, dust a peel with unbleached all-purpose flour.

While the oven heats, generously flour the dough and then stretch and tuck it under itself, giving it quarter turns as you form a ball of dough with a smooth top. Let rest on the work surface, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. Meanwhile, prep all the toppings as directed in the ingredient list before you begin shaping your dough.
Once the dough has rested, very lightly flour your work surface and lay your dough ball in the center of the floured area. Flour your hands and then, using your palms and fingertips, press and stretch the dough into a rough circle about 12 inches in diameter..."



(See my table for dough amounts, cook times, thickness, etc. )

"...Or use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough into a circle; if sticky spots occur, flour your fingertips (or your rolling pin) and continue stretching the dough. Flip the dough occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the work surface, and use a dough scraper to detach the dough from the work surface if it does stick. If the dough continually contracts, let it rest, covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before resuming the stretching process. It’s OK if your dough isn’t a perfect circle. Transfer the stretched dough to the prepared pizza peel or baking sheet..."


(Now, add your sauce, toppings and cheese...)


"If using a baking sheet, put it on the rack. If using a pizza stone, shake the peel a bit to make sure the pizza isn’t stuck and then slide the pizza off the peel and onto the heated stone (Aim for the back of the stone and place the end of the peel there). Bake, turning the pizza with a peel or tongs if one side browns faster than the other, until the crust is nicely browned and crisp and the cheese is bubbly, about 5 to 7 minutes on a pizza stone, or 10 to 12 minutes on a baking sheet. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board, scatter the basil over the pizza, and let stand for 1 to 2 minutes before cutting it with a pizza wheel, kitchen shears, or a chef’s knife."




Cracker-Thin
Neapolitan-Style (Regular)
Sicilian-Style (Thick)
Dough
4 oz.
8oz.
1 1/2 lb.
Thickness
1/16 in.
1/8 in.
½ in.
Oven Temperature
550 F
550 F
500 F
Baking time (pizza stone
5 to 7 min.
8 to 10 min.
20 to 25 min.
Baking time (baking sheet)
10 to 12 min.
13 to 15 min.
25 to 30 min.





Here are some tips on the overall pizza-making process!

A note on the dough: 

I made whole wheat, and the recipe says to replace one C of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat. I went ahead and replaced two C of the all-purpose with whole wheat and it tasted great. Also, beware if you are making the cracker crust: one pizza will probably only serve about two people - or one very hungry person!

Sauce:

Fine Cooking claims that the best pizza sauces are the simplest ones - and I agree! For mine, I simply poured two cans of diced tomatoes into a sauce pan, then pureed them using the immersion blender. My tomatoes were "Italian style", but you could use plain and add your own herbs and spices. Also, using whole tomatoes would work fine too.
Just bring the pureed tomatoes to a simmer, then reduce the heat so that it continues to simmer slowly. Let the tomatoes reduce until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. 

Toppings:

 Pizza toppings are another area where less is usually more. You can throw virtually anything you want on top of your pizzas, but my general rule is don't exceed more than 4 toppings (I don't count the cheese as one of those). I'm not a very creative cheese eater, I usually stick to Mozzarella, Parmesan, and Feta, but many people like more flavorful cheeses like blue and goat cheese. 

Topping Ideas: Spinach, mushrooms, green/red peppers, onions, green onions, black/green/kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, tomatoes (sliced, cherry, etc), green onions, asparagus tips, basil, sweet potatoes, pineapple, broccoli

Cheeses: Mozzarella, feta, Parmesan, Romano, blue, Gorgonzola, goat's cheese, and lots, lots more...

Some of my favorite combos:
Spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms and Mozzarella or feta
Basil, tomatoes, and Mozzarella
Green peppers, olives, and Mozzarella


These lists are obviously just ideas. Feel free to try any veggies (or meats I guess :p ) that you think may be tasty. Also, the world of cheeses is endless.

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