Saturday, April 16, 2011

Thin Crust Cheese Pizza

There are some times in life where you just need a crusty, cheesy pizza. I've been having those moments recently, and now I'm armed with a phenomenal crust and sauce recipe that comes together in minutes.
The recipe for the dough and sauce is originally from Cooks Illustrated, but I found it on Annie's Eats.

The best way to make the dough is in a food processor. But, I don't have a processor large enough. So, I worked quickly in my mixer and handled the dough as little as possible. The recipe itself really requires a minimum of effort. Throw a few ingredients into your food processor (or mixer), combine, let it sit, knead for a minute and stow in the fridge. Doesn't really get much simpler than that (unless you're making No Knead bread, which no one can top it's simplicity). The dough recipe makes enough for two 8-slice pizzas. Freeze half after letting set in the fridge for 24-72 hours.
To yield the perfectly crispy crust, you MUST bake this on a pizza stone. Pretty inexpensive investment ($20) that's totally worth it.

The sauce can be made in a blender, and makes enough for 3-4 pizzas, depending on how saucy you like yours. And the vinegar adds a nice flavor to the sauce. Don't skip that.

Here's the recipe as it appears on Annie's Eats

For the crust:
  • 3 cups (16½ oz.) bread flour
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 1/3 cups ice water
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1½ tsp. salt
For the sauce:
  • 1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
For topping:
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • ½ cup (1 oz.) finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) shredded whole-milk mozzarella
  1. To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a food processor* fitted with the metal blade. Pulse just to combine. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube and process just until the dough is combined and all dry ingredients are incorporated, about 10 seconds. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the oil and salt to the dough. Process until the dough forms a smooth, tacky ball that clears the sides of the bowl, about 30-60 seconds. Remove the dough from the bowl, knead briefly on a lightly oiled work surface, about 1 minute. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days. (After the period of refrigeration, the dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for later use.)
  3. To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl or container and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. One hour before baking the pizza, adjust an oven rack to the second highest position and place a baking stone on the rack to preheat. Preheat the oven to 500˚ F. Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator and divide in half. (If you plan to freeze a portion of the dough, this is the time to wrap in plastic, place in a freezer bag and freeze for later use.) Form each half into a ball and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Spray the dough balls lightly with cookies spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  5. To assemble the pizza, transfer a dough ball to a well floured work surface. Flatten into an 8-inch disk, leaving a slightly thicker edge around the rim. Using your hands, gently stretch the dough to a 12-inch circle. (If you're having trouble getting the dough to stretch, let it set for a few minutes.) Transfer the dough to a well floured pizza peel (you can use cornmeal in place of the flour) and stretch to a 13-inch circle. Lightly brush the thicker edge of the disk with olive oil. Spread ½ cup of the pizza sauce over the dough. Sprinkle evenly with the grated Parmesan and the shredded mozzarella. Carefully transfer the pizza to the preheated baking stone. Bake until the cheese is bubbling and slightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
*This dough can also be made in a stand mixer or by hand. Keep in mind, the idea is to avoid warming the dough, so a food processor or mixer is optimal.

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