The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Really Easy Thin Crust Pizza My Way

davesmall's picture
davesmall

Really Easy Thin Crust Pizza My Way

I love real Italian style pizza with a thin crust. The bread should be the star of the show rather than the toppings. It should be crispy but not so crispy as a cracker. The character of the bread should shine through with a nice balance between crispy and chewy. 


My pet peeve is pizza that droops. It happens even at upscale pizza restaurants. They put too much topping on the pizza which insulates the dough. The top of the dough doesn't fully cook. When you hold the typical triangular piece in your hand the point droops. A good pizza doesn't ever droop. If it droops, send it back and ask for a refund.


In Italy they have very hot ovens (700 degrees F) which can penetrate the toppings and cook the dough quickly before the toppings dry out. The ovens in our kitchens generally top out around 500 degrees F. This two-step baking solves that problem.


I like to keep bread dough in the refrigerator at all times so I can make something on a whim. 'Something' often means a pizza, ciabatta, pita bread, or fougasse. My favorite is a wetter version of the boule dough recipe in the book, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a day. My recipe is 2 pounds flour (I use General Mills Harvest King), 28 fluid ounces water, 1.5 tablespoons instant yeast, and 1.5 tablespoons kosher salt. Mix together but don't bother kneading. Let rise two hours. Punch down and refrigerate overnight or for up to two weeks.  I keep it in a plastic shoe box. Once you have this dough you can tear off a piece and make a variety of delicious eats. (note: See my recipe for Fougasse using this same dough http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/18140/fougasse-refrigerated-dough


 


Today I made the pizza pictured below.


For this pizza, I tore off a 1.5 pound portion from my refrigerated dough. Stretch and fold four or five times on a well floured surface. The dough will be sticky so use plenty of flour. Form a log nearly the length of the cookie sheet and press down so it is about 3 to 4 inches wide. I form the loaf on a Silpat Silicone non-stick liner on a cookie sheet but parchment paper works just as well. Roll the dough until it covers most of the Silicone liner or parchment. If the dough is so elastic that it pulls back take a ten minute break and roll again. You want it to pretty much fill up the cookie sheet. Cover with a clean damp dish towel and let it rise for an hour or more.


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Put the dough in the oven and bake for 6 to 8 minutes until it is just barely starting to brown on the bottom and you are able to pick it up using a pot holder. Remove from the oven and flip it over. You will put the toppings on what was the bottom of the dough during the first baking. This is the key to success with this pizza. This is how you prevent droop.


There are many possible toppings that you can use. The pizza in the photo has a tomato sauce brushed onto the dough (8 ounce can of tomato sauce with a tablespoon of butter and one crushed garlic clove cooked for about 15 minutes on the stove to thicken). There is a sprinkling of coarsely grated melting cheese such as Fontina or Quesadilla. I also added rings cut from a mild Anaheim pepper and pieces of artichoke hearts. Use your imagination but remember the maxim, that less is more when it comes to Pizza toppings. You don't want a pile of goop on your excellent pizza crust.


After the toppings have been applied, return to the oven for ten to fifteen minutes until the dough is nicely browned on the edges and bottom. The cheese should show some brown spots.


fthec's picture
fthec

I must disagree with you on Italian pizza not drooping.  I've had REAL Italian pizza (in Italy) many, many times (often, the best pizza i've ever had) and the center point always droops.  That's why the Italians eat their pizza by folding it in half so that it lends support to the center. 


also, NEVER roll out pizza dough.  it must be stretched and prodded until it is thin enough.  Rolling it removes any entrapped air and results in more of a cracker style crust--  thin yes, appealing.....questionable.


Finally, our home ovens can't reach the elevated temperatures of wood-burning ovens.  nevertheless, you should still be heating to its highest level (550F is usually max).  A thick stone certainly helps as long as you preheat long enough.  also helpful is using the broiler to superheat the stone just before you load the dough.  At this temp, 7 minutes or so results in a very good pizza.  Not perfect, mind you, but delicious nonetheless.


Oh, and as far the 'sauce goes' there need not be any pre-cooking.  High quality canned tomatoes (pureed or chunky to taste) is all that is needed.  This sauce 'cooks' on the pizza in the oven.  Simple and fantastic.

davesmall's picture
davesmall

I've also had 'real Italian pizza' many times on trips to Italy. It wasn't all good.


Just like in America there are good restaurants and mediocre restaurants. The Italian Pizza restaurants always do much better with pizza that the typical American chain pizza joints (Dominos, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, etc.).


You can definitely get mediocre pizza in Italy that droops. But the good stuff doesn't droop. The best pizza I've had in Italy was at a restaurant just north of Positano on the Amalfi Coast. Look to your left as you head north just after you pass the San Pietro Hotel. It was to die for and it did not droop.


Rolling the dough is OK. The pizza pictured here was rolled and it still had considerable trapped air and bubbles.


Different strokes for different folks.


Please try my recipe and then comment rather than shooting it down without trying. That's lame and unfair.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Some really good pizza has a flexible crust - that's a quality many people consider desirable.


Some really good pizza has a crispy crust that other people find desirable.


Neither condition makes (or fails to make) a pizza "authentic", unless you are only measuring authenticity against intention.  If your intention was to have a crispy cracker like crust and the pizza (in your words) "droops", then it's not right.


But if your intention was to have a more flexible crust and it FAILS to "droop", it's still not right.


You can only measure that particular quality against itself.  I have a good friend who is a "real Italian" and he thinks this argument is very very funny, and totally meaningless.


I won't be trying your recipe, not because I think there's anything wrong with it, but because I personally don't prefer my pizza crust to be thin and crunchy like that.  For people who DO like their crust to have that quality, it's probably wonderful.  Doesn't make the rest of us "lame" though that we don't like it that way, nor does it make all other pizza crust styles "bad" and only yours "good".  LOL!

staho88's picture
staho88

I liked it.  Another variation of pizza on a usually weekly night of pizza making for me.  Slightly different than the others which is good and there was certainly no droop.  Don't know about authentic Italian but it was good.  Just out of curiosity--your photo--why is there a copyright for 2007 in the upper right corner?

davesmall's picture
davesmall

I'm glad you tried it and glad you liked it. 


The service i use for photos puts that copyright date on the photos. It's the year I signed up with them rather then when the photo was taken. Don't know why they do it that way.


Regarding droop:


When baked, bread does not droop. However, it will droop if not fully baked. Raw Dough droops a lot. Half baked dough droops too. Fully baked and really good bread has a crispy crust and a chewy center. Droop doesn't exist when making really good artisan breads.


Pizza is made with bread dough. Pizza is really a flat bread with some toppings. 


If your pizza droops there is only one possible explanation. The dough didn't fully bake. Half raw dough is not what you want.

fthec's picture
fthec

I never said all Italian pizza is good.  I've had some horrible pizza in Italy.  my main point is this..........to say that "A good pizza doesn't ever droop" is patently wrong.  Maybe YOU don't like it that way but it certainly doesn't make for 'bad' pizza. Italian pizza dough is made with tipo 00 which, i'm sure you know, is a very soft, low protein flour.  By nature, it will produce a much softer crust than higher protein flour used in NA.  That, coupled with very thinly stretched doughs, will result in less structural support in the centre of the pizza.


As far as your recipe is concerned it's not much different than what i make.  the difference is that i don't roll it.  Why?  Because i used to roll it when i first started making pizza and working with wetter doughs.  Once i gained experience and confidence i was able to stretch and shape by hand and found a significant improvement in texture in the crust.


I'm glad you've found a recipe and method you like.  Just because someone disagrees with your version of reality doesn't make them wrong.  You like yours, I like mine.  Let's agree to disagree.  Simple as that.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Ditto on the rolling out thing.  For years I rolled pizza dough out.  Turns out the recipe I was using - while easy and forgiving - was actually too wet.  Since I started using one of the recipes from pizzamaking.com that has totally changed.  I can now easily and reliable stretch my dough out each and every time, with vastly improved texture.  Not saying I stretch it out with any particular expertise or finesse; but even if it ain't purty, it's still mighty tasty!

Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

A good pizza doesn't ever droop


That's a matter of opinion, not fact.

Pythonic's picture
Pythonic

That is the pic you post after rambling about what is good pizza.  A par baked pizza with low quality cheese and subpar sauce.

Here are some real helpful pizza tips for you:

1.  Ny style and neopolitian pizza is known for drooping.  That is the style for this kind of pizza.  It's not a thin cracker crust pizza like you made and must prefer.

2.  Italians in Naples cook at 900-1000F.

3.  Bake your pizzas preheated stone for best results.

4.   Go to pizzamaking.com and learn from the pros.

 

 

 

 

carefreebaker's picture
carefreebaker

Great looking pizza. I look forward to making it your way for my family. Thanks for sharing.

grind's picture
grind

My family backround is Neapolitan and I don't like Neapolitan pizza.  I felt like a traitor when I mentioned my dislike in a conversation with my sister.  I was surprized that she didn't think much of it either.  Too droopy, too quicly.  Both of us have eaten the authentic versions of the pie, here and in Naples, her more recently and me a while back.  Although we both loved our mother's version of the classic.  A cruchier bottom and it never drooped!  To each his own, I guess.