Thursday, March 7, 2013

Professional Pizza Crust at Home

You guys. Seriously. I've been trying to find an amazing pizza crust recipe that I could make for dinner on a weeknight, and the bad news is that it just isn't happening. The good news is that with the tiniest bit of work on Sunday afternoon, you can have TRANSCENDENT pizza on Thursday night.

I didn't have any sauce or cheese. Olive oil with a little rosemary, salt, and pepper are great on this crust. 

The secret is in aging the dough in the fridge for at least four days. Bread flour is also required--I like King Arthur. I know it's a tease to tell you about the deep flavor, chewy inside and crisp outer shell on the pizza crust when you won't be able to eat it for four days, but it is So. Worth. It. Once you try it, you'll be putting a batch in the fridge twice a week so you can make this pizza every day.

See all of those teeny bubbles on the crust? Shatteringly crisp. So good. 

Combine 2 3/4 C lukewarm water, 1 Tbsp of sugar, and 1 1/2 Tbsp bread machine yeast in a big bowl. Let the yeast bloom for a few minutes and combine 1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt (for regular salt use a bit less than a Tbsp), 6 1/2 C bread flour, and (optional) 2 tsp vital wheat gluten (it helps develop the crust, and you're going to make so much of this dough that it's worth it to buy a bag) in another bowl. 

Stir 1/4 C olive oil into the water and yeast, and then dump the dry ingredients into the big bowl. Stir until all of the flour is moistened. It's ok if it's a wet dough, you'll add more flour when you need to handle it. If it's dry, add more water. Cover the bowl with a towel and let sit in a warmish place to rise for two hours. 

After two hours, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, or the cover that came with the bowl if you want to be fancy about it. Put it in the fridge for four days and forget about it. Seriously, just get pizza out of your mind. It's going to be really hard, but you can power through. 

After at least four days, grab a handful of dough from the bowl and roll it in enough flour so that it doesn't stick to your hands. A handful will eventually become a good 12-inch pizza crust, so only take out as much dough as you'll need that night (it's just going to keep getting better as it ages, so you'll thank yourself in two days if you have some left). Stretch it out by hand as far as it will go--it won't go too far, the structure of the dough needs to warm up before you can really stretch it--and leave it to rest on a plate or board. Turn on your oven as high as it goes and put in a baking sheet or pizza stone to preheat with it. 

Let the dough sit and warm up for 20-30 minutes. Once it's close to room temperature, stretch it out as far as it will go and put it on a square of parchment paper. Add your toppings (the crust will be thin, so go easy). Use a pizza peel or another baking sheet to slide the pizza onto the stone or sheet in the oven. Bake until the edges of the crust are browned. Try to resist burning your hands and tongue on the pizza.