Thursday, May 13, 2010

From The Kitchen: Thin Crust Pizza

I would say I'm a big fan of pizza, but who doesn't love pizza? From time to time, we make our own and when we do, I like to try out new pizza dough recipes. I am amazingly good at making things once and then never making them again because I forget which cookbook I used (I often get them from the library). This is the case with pizza dough too, because Husband liked the pizza I used to make about 8 years ago, and I could not tell you which recipe that was. Anyhoo, we recently ate at a most excellent pizzeria in Seattle called Tutta Bella. They serve very thin crust Neapolitan pizza. I was in love. And wanted to recreate it at home. I did not succeed in that, however, I did make a decent pizza using the pizza dough III recipe on I've actually made it twice now.

First things first, I like to use a candy thermometer to check the temperature of the water, so as not to scald the yeast. I did that once, the dough didn't rise, and I made the pizza anyway. It wasn't so bad-- sort of like cracker pizza. Since then, I use the thermometer just to be safe.

This particular dough recipe makes a very wet dough. Here it is before it rose.

And here it is later after I've punched it down and dusted it with flour. It makes a very soft dough, and it's quite sticky if you don't flour the surface enough.

No rolling pin is needed. It works best just to use your fingers and gently stretch and shape the dough by hand. This is extremely satisfying if, like me, you enjoy touching dough and squishing it. I suppose if you grow up playing with Play Doh or mixing water and flour together, you become a dough maker as a grown-up.

Pug was on hand to oversee the pizza dough production, and to check for quality control. Pug is a pizza connoisseur.

Moving the stretched dough onto the pan is a bit tricky, given the extremely soft nature of this dough. I keep the pan close to the rolling surface so the dough doesn't have far to go.

The first time I made this pizza, I put the toppings on the unbaked dough and wound up with a lot of liquid (from the veggies?) on top of the pizza after it finished baking. This time, I pre-baked the dough for about 5 minutes before I added the toppings. The center rose a bit, but I squished it down when I put the toppings on.

There's nothing better than the smell of pizza in the oven! I made half veggie for me (mushrooms, bell pepper, olive, cheese, and after it was done baking, spinach) and half meat for Husband (all of the above, minus the spinach, plus salami).

All in all, this is a decent pizza dough. Not perfect certainly, but not awful. On a scale of one to ten for homemade pizza dough, I'd give this a 5. (However, if I'm comparing it to the pizza I had at Tutta Bella, or the wonderful pizza margherita my mom and I had somewhere in Rome once and which I will never forget, both of which merit 10's, well, this homemade dough just doesn't compare.) You'll like it if you enjoy thin, soft pizza, and floury dough. Next time, I'm going to use the pizza stone, 00 flour, and try one of Peter Reinhart's recipes for supposedly The Best Pizza Dough Ever.