Pizza

I’m not someone who does well with the “what one food would you bring to a deserted island?” or “what would you choose for your last meal?” games.  With all of the possible options, I’m far too indecisive to ever narrow it down to just one thing.  I can say with 100% certainty though that pizza would be among the top 5 were I to sit down and make a list.  We make it at home a few times a month and it’s always something I look forward to eating.  As a kid I remember picking the cheese off of my pizza and just eating the bottom crust – what was I thinking??  Over the years, I’ve come to love the cheese almost as much as the crust.  Sorry, but bread wins out over almost everything else for me, even cheese :)

Pizza

It probably won’t come as much of a shock then when I tell you that I prefer thick crust pizzas over thin.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve always chosen thick crust pizzas from those big national pizza chains when we order out.  However, I try to keep an open mind, and I was intrigued when I saw this thin crust pizza in an issue of Cook’s Illustrated a few months ago.  A few bloggers tried the recipe before I had a chance to make it, and they all raved so that cemented my desire to make it asap.

Pizza

They were all right, this is now one of our new favorite homemade pizza recipes.  Yes, the crust is thin, but it’s incredibly flavorful.  We went with just cheese on one of the pizzas and pepperoni on the other; you could use any toppings you like just don’t pile them too high or you’ll probably wind up with a soggy pizza.  One of the best things about this recipe is that the dough has to be refrigerated for between 24 hours and 3 days so you could do the initial work of making the dough over the weekend and then enjoy homemade pizza on a weeknight without much effort.  The simple no-cook sauce can be made ahead of time as well and it’s really, really good.  Shane prepped ours while I sat on the couch and offered direction :)  I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving thick crust pizza, but I’m really glad to have found a thin crust option which is just as delicious – that’s something I didn’t ever think I would say!

Thin Crust Pizza
from Cook’s Illustrated, January/February 2011

Dough
3 cups (16 1/2 oz) bread flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/3 cups ice water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Sauce
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and liquid discarded
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Topping
1 oz finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
8 oz shredded mozzarella (about 2 cups)

To make the dough:  Combine the flour, sugar and yeast in the bowl of your food processor.  Pulse just briefly to mix.  With the machine running, slowly add all of the water through the feed tube and process just until the dough dough comes together, about 10 seconds.  Let the dough rest (still in the bowl of the food processor) for 10 minutes.

Add the oil and salt to the food processor and process until the dough comes together in a smooth, tacky ball that clears the sides of the bowl, about 30-60 seconds.  Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface and knead briefly then shape into a tight ball.  Place the dough in a large bowl lightly coated with cooking spray.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours (or up to 3 days).

To make the sauce: Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and process until smooth, about 30 seconds.  The sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated for a week or frozen for a month.

To make the pizza: About one hour before you want to bake, preheat oven to 500 F with a pizza stone set on a rack about 4-5 inches from the broiler.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide in half.  Shape each piece of dough into a tight ball and set on a lightly oiled baking sheet, leaving at least 3 inches between them. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap that’s been sprayed with cooking spray and let stand at room temperature for an hour.

Transfer 1 ball of dough to a well floured work surface.  Use your fingertips to flatten the dough into an 8-inch disk, leaving the outer edge slightly thicker.  Gently stretch the dough with your hands (I rolled mine with a rolling pin) into a 12-inch circle.  Transfer the dough to a well-floured pizza peel, if you have one.  (We don’t, so I always use parchment paper.)  Stretch the dough a bit more to a 13-inch circle.  Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in a thin, even layer over the dough, leaving a small border around the edge.  Sprinkle evenly with half of the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.  Bake on the preheated pizza stone for about 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbling and browned.  Transfer the pizza to a wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.  Repeat with the second piece of dough.

Makes two 13-inch pizzas