Sunday, January 12, 2014

Thin Crust Pizza Dough and Sauce


This is currently my favorite pizza crust dough. I preheat a couple of pizza stones in my oven for about 30-45 minutes before I bake the pizza's. I don't precook the crust like I did in the KokopelliKaren Pizza Crust. This is from Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen. I usually quadruple the recipe, but I usually don't get the crust as thin as the recipe states.

Dough
3 C. (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour, plus more for work surface
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/3 C. ice water (about 10 1/2 ounces)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for work surface
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

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

Cheese
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
8 ounces whole milk mozzarella, shredded (about 2 cups)

Instructions
1. For the dough: In food processor fitted with metal blade, process flour, sugar, and yeast until combined, about 2 seconds. With machine running slowly add water through feed tube; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand 10 minutes.
Karen's method: I dump all the dough ingredients into my KitchenAid mixer or a cheap breadmaker machine (set on manual/dough setting) and let them go. The KitchenAid I let knead with the dough hook for about 10 minutes. The breadmaker set on manual I let mix until its hook stops rotating, about 18 minutes on my machine. I usually double the ingredients in both the KitchenAid and the breadmaker because we have lots of kids and friends.
2. Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of work bowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl and knead briefly on lightly oiled counter top until smooth, about 1 minutes. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
3. For sauce: Process all ingredients in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to medium bowl or container and refrigerate until ready to use.
4. To bake the pizza: One hour before baking pizza, adjust oven rack to second highest position (rack should be about 4 to 5 inches below broiler), set pizza stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide in half. Shape each half into smooth, tight ball. Place on lightly oiled baking sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray; let stand for 1 hour.
5. Coat 1 ball of dough generously with flour and place on well-floured counter top. Using fingertips, gently flatten into 8-inch disk, leaving 1 inch of outer edge slightly thicker than center. Using hands, gently stretch disk into 12-inch round, working along edges and giving disk quarter turns as you stretch. Transfer dough to well-floured peel (I used cornmeal, rather than flour on the peel.) and stretch into 13-inch round. Using back of spoon or ladle, spread 1/2 cup of tomato sauce in thin layer over surface of dough, leaving 1/4-inch border around edge. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan evenly over sauce, followed by 1 cup mozzarella. Slide pizza carefully onto stone an bake until crust is well browned and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown, 10-12 minutes, rotating pizza halfway through. ( I don't rotate.) Remove pizza and place on wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Repeat step 5 to shape, top , and bake second pizza.
6. Topping Tips: We like our thin-crust pizza simple dressed with tomato sauce and handfuls of shredded mozzarella and Parmesan, but additional toppings are always an option--provided they're prepared correctly and added judiciously. (An overloaded pie will bake up soggy.) Here are a few guidelines for how to handle different types of toppings:
Hearty Vegetables Aim for a maximum of 6 ounces per pie, spread out in a single layer. Vegetables such as onions, peppers, and mushrooms should be thinly sliced and lightly sauteed (or microwaved for a minute or two along with a little olive oil) before using.
Delicate Vegetables and Herbs Leafy greens and herbs like spinach and basil are best placed beneath the cheese to protect them or added raw to the fully cooked pizza.
Meats Proteins (no more than 4 ounces per pie) should be precooked and drained to remove excess fat. We like to poach meats like sausage (broken up into 1/2 inch chunks), pepperoni, or ground beef for 4 to 5 minutes in a wide skillet along with 1/4 cup of water, which helps to render the fat while keeping the meat moist.

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