I was not content with the pizza crust I originally posted, it was good, but not something I felt others would rave about. Consequently I have been experimenting with variations for the past few months. While searching for a simple crust I had some criteria in mind: the ingredients must be both inexpensive and readily available, the directions must be both easy and forgiving, and finally it must taste at least as good as the chain delivery joints. (There are a few independent places who have a fantastic product that would be difficult to recreate in the average kitchen.)*
This crust is chewier and more flavorful than the original with no increase in difficulty.
- 1 TBSP active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour + a little more for dusting
- 1 1/2 TBSP olive oil + extra to grease the bowl for rising
- 2 TBSP molasses
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning – OPTIONAL
- cornmeal for sprinkling
Directions after the jump.
Add the yeast to the warm water and set it aside. Place the flour in a large bowl and whisk it to fluff it up. With your hands, clean please, create a well in the flour. Remember when you used to make a volcano with mashed potatoes and gravy? Yes, just like that.
To make clean up easier, measure the olive oil and then the molasses. There is no chemical reason for doing this, other than the oil lubricates the spoon so you don’t have to struggle with the sticky molasses. Add the salt and Italian seasoning.
Does the yeast and water look foamy? Wonderful, add that to the well. If you are using a stand mixer, use your dough hook to stir and knead. Use the lowest setting and only knead it for about a minute after the dough comes together.
If you are kneading by hand, stir the ingredients until they are moist and well mixed. Flour your work surface and knead the dough for around three minutes. Estimate, this is pretty forgiving.
After kneading shape the dough into a ball. (Just like playdough folks, just like playdough). Set aside. Grease a large bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it several times to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise for at least thirty minutes.
Divide the dough into equal portions. We make 4 thin crust 12″ pizzas, if you prefer thicker crust you will have fewer pizzas. If you have multiple pans allow the dough to sit for ten or fifteen additional minutes, before shaping. If, like me, you only have one pizza stone, immediately begin shaping the dough (with a rolling pin or by tossing)for baking, the other three can rise and your first really won’t suffer.
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
If you use a pizza stone, allow the stone to heat for 10 minutes in a 450F oven. If you are using a metal baking sheet, preheating is unnecessary.
Sprinkle the stone or cookie sheet with cornmeal; set the shaped pizza crust on the surface and top with your favorite pizza sauce and toppings. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes (watch it carefully, this depends on your toppings).
*No comment from those of you who can afford home woodfired ovens.