Saints’ and Sinners’ Homemade Pizza
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Bill has been a good sport about my health kick the last couple of weeks, so I thought I’d reward him with the “Sinners’” version of my much healthier “Saintly” version.
This pizza dough recipe comes from Alton Brown and, as usual, he is spot on. I have tried many, many versions of pizza dough and his is, hands down, the best.
He grills his to achieve that thin, cracker-crisp pizza crust. I described how to do it, here on Grilled Pizza for Dummies. Since we’re in cold, soggy Oregon, our outside grill is probably pretty gross, and I’m not about to grill in this rain, anyway. So, I’ve been trying different techniques in the oven to get that super crispy crust. I think I’ve finally nailed it.
A few hours before dinner, prepare your dough:
Pizza Dough – Enough for 4 medium sized pizzas or 8 personal:
16 ounces (this is 3 ¼ cups) all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 envelope instant or rapid rise yeast (this is 2 ¼ teaspoons) (also called bread machine yeast)
1 Tablespoon kosher salt (NOT table salt – they are not equivalent)
10 ounces warm water, approximately 105° F
2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons for bowl
1 Tablespoon malted barley syrup, room temperature (or 1 Tablespoon brown sugar, instead)
Combine the flour and yeast in the work bowl of a stand mixer. Add the salt, water, 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, and malted barley syrup. (I finally broke down and bought malted barley syrup. It turns the dough a very light brown, giving it the appearance of a whole wheat dough. I’m convinced that ingredient had a lot to do with the awesome results I got, making this).
Start the mixer on low, using the paddle attachment, and mix until the dough just comes together, approximately 1 1/2 minutes. Now switch to the dough hook, and put your mixer on medium. Knead for 15 minutes. Of course, if you don’t have a standing mixer, you can do all of this by hand.
Fold the dough onto itself and form it into a smooth ball. Oil the bowl of the stand mixer or other large bowl with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Put the dough in the bowl and roll it around to coat with the oil. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and leave at room temperature to double in size, approximately 1 hour. (I’ve found that it takes much longer to double in size; not sure why).
Split the dough into 4 or 8 equal parts using a knife or bench scraper. Flatten each piece into a disk on the countertop. Form each piece into a ball. Roll each ball on the counter until they tighten into rounds. Cover the balls with a tea towel and rest for 45 minutes.
Before forming your pizza crusts, preheat your oven to 500°. If you are using a baking stone, put it in now, also. If you are only making one pizza, use the bottom rack.
Lightly flour the countertop and flatten 1 of the dough balls. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a round, rotating and stretching the dough as you go. I like to sprinkle the cutting board with Semolina Flour, instead of regular flour. Semolina Flour: http://amzn.to/2CGNYDY.
This dough is a very wet one, and it is very easy to use a rolling pin to get it nice and thin. It doesn’t resist you and pull back when you try to roll it, which is great. But I found that if it was too thin, it burned in those spots in mere moments.
So, when I’m rolling out the dough on my lightly floured cutting board, I stop shy of paper thin.
Line an rimless cookie sheet with parchment. Transfer your pizza round onto the parchment paper.
This entire process is really much, much easier than it might seem. I guarantee you, the end result is absolute heaven, if you like a thin-crust, crisp pizza dough. For heating up the next day, I have tried every method I can think of to reheat it and, although it’s still very yummy, it doesn’t retain its crispiness. Bummer.
Since it’s only the two of us, we only use 2 of the 8 pizza balls and, even with that, we always have leftovers. I simply take the other 6 balls of dough, flatten them with my hands, and wrap them well in cling wrap. Then I lay them in a flat layer in a large freezer bag, and put them in the freezer. The frozen pizza balls thaw very quickly, and you can grab as many as you’ll need for dinner and be ready when you get home after a day at the beach. Or at work. You get it.
I like to use garlic olive oil to coat the pizza dough. This way, you can get the great flavor of the garlic without the actual bits getting in the way and possibly getting burned.
Into a small saucepan, pour about a cup of extra virgin olive oil and then add 5 to 10 raw garlic cloves, or just a tablespoon of the stuff that comes minced, in a jar. After about 20 minutes warming on low, remove and cool, then pour through a sieve into a container. A mason jar works fine. You can keep this garlic oil in the fridge indefinitely, but it MUST be refrigerated. If you keep it in the cupboard (same as any homemade salad dressing containing garlic), you run the risk of botulism. So, the cold garlic oil should be put out on the counter for about 15 minutes before needed, in order to come to room temperature.
When your pizza is ready to go into the oven, lightly coat the top of the raw pizza round with a pastry brush dipped in garlic oil. Then take the cookie sheet to the oven, and pull out the rack with the baking stone on it. If you hold the cookie sheet toward the back of the stone and pull the pan toward you, the parchment (along with the dough) will stay on the baking stone. The parchment paper won’t burn. If you don’t have a baking stone, just put the cookie sheet, parchment, and pizza onto the rack.
After a few minutes, use a spatula and peek at the bottom of the pizza dough.
When you’ve peeked at the bottom and like how it looks, it’s ready to flip. Use a large spatula or the original cookie sheet, and slide it under the parchment paper and remove from oven.
Remove parchment paper. To flip the pizza onto the baking stone, either take ahold of the edges and manually flip it back onto the baking stone. Or you can use a large cake spatula (like this very cool one) to flip it. This is one of the few tools I actually had to order because when I’m grilling pizza, that surface is hot! There’s no way to grab ahold of a pizza on a grill. Anyway, this awesome cake spatula I found on Amazon does the trick. But it is non-stick, so you have to be careful your pizza doesn’t land on the floor! So, slide it under the pizza and use your fingers to hold it onto the spatula, then flip. And if you’re a baker, you can use this large, round spatula to transfer your cakes, after decorating. You can also move the second cake layer onto the first, frosted one, without risking it breaking in half.
After a few minutes, take a peek at the bottom of the pizza. When it is nice and brown and crispy, remove it from the oven.
You can top the pizza with pizza sauce, pesto, white garlic sauce or garlic oil.
Then add your toppings.
I found both of my pizza stones, brand-spankin’ new, at Goodwill for about $10 apiece. If you don’t have any luck going the thrift store route, you can order one here, on Amazon. I use my baking stones for my artisan breads, too, so they get a lot of use! Be aware of the fact that they will get discolored and ugly over time. It’s just the nature of the beast! Here’s the Amazon link: http://amzn.to/2CFbBwt
Garlic oil, brushed on the pizza
Chicken breasts or tenders, sautéed, cut into bite-sized pieces and coated in Pesto (my sister-in-law’s awesome idea!)
Red bell pepper, chopped
Baby spinach, chopped
Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Freshly grated parmesan
Pizza Sauce (see below)
Ground Beef, cooked
Ground Italian Sausage, cooked
Black olives, sliced
Red bell pepper, chopped
Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Baby Spinach, chopped
Freshly grated parmesan
Shredded Italian Cheese Blend as a final topping
There’s really no end to different toppings you can use. A nice variation is to use Kalamata olives and feta, as well.
Easy Pizza Sauce
15 ounce can tomato sauce
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 heaping teaspoon chopped garlic
I can’t let you go without this Amazon link for an awesome pizza cutter. I’m telling you, I’ve had 4 or 5 different pizza cutters, two of them mezzalunas. These are the big old things that they use in the pizza joints. They rock back and forth and cut up the pizza in no time. If you’re a strapping 18 year old kid who happens to be 6 feet tall, that is. Well, Bill has given me two of them over the years, and they were not cheap! But I’m 5’2″ (down an inch and 3/4, thank you very much) and my counters are way too high for me to put my weight on those. I finally went onto Amazon and found this pizza cutter by Dexter and I’ve never looked back. To start your cut, place it a few inches inside the pizza, from the outer edge of the pizza. Do a forward/backward motion and come back through the crust edge. Then move toward the other side of the pizza. Pizza cutting will be a dream! Here’s the link on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2Fg0bku
This is perfect in front of the fire! I wanted a beer but settled for ice water. Hmmmph.
Cheers and Enjoy!