Hearty pizza crust

Joined May 2, 2003
Growing up in Southern California, there was a privately owned Pizza place called Barro's. Their crusts were thick and the outer ridge of the crust was really hearty...similar to what you would find on a loaf of sour dough...a little chewy, a little dark, but very tasty (but it wasn't sourdough).

I have tried all kinds of pizza crust recipes, and experimented with different flours, but I just can't get the dough to become a "crusty" crust.

What do I need to do to make a crusty crust? Should I use a recipe for a crusty bread?

all input welcome!

Joined Jul 28, 2001
oven temps and cooking proceedures have just as much to do with crustyness and formulas.
Joined Feb 5, 2001
Are you using a pizza stone? If not, give it a try.
It makes a big difference. Home ovens don't get as hot as restaurant ovens so the pizza stone helps.
At what temp are you baking your pizzas?
Joined Aug 14, 2000
More questions than answers at this point. Can you give us an example of a formula you are working with? As others have said here, other variables will factor in as well. Are you retarding your dough? Using a stone? What temp are you baking at?
Joined May 2, 2003
Thanks for all the help so far. To answer the questions, I have not been using a pizza stone. Rather, I have been using a thin pan with holes underneath; another pan that is thin and very dark; and another that is deep, light, and well seasoned. The oven is gas, and I have been experimenting between 450 and 475 degree oven. I usually do get a great golden crust, but crusty is the goal.

So, here is the basic formula that I have been experimenting with:

1/4 oz. Yeast (activated with 1C warm water and 1Tbl sugar)

3C flour (I have used all purpose, all purpose mixed with a little corn meal, bread flour).

1tsp. Salt.

In addition to the above experiments, I have also varied the basic recipe with 1) a little extra water, 2) by adding olive oil, 3) adding some butter 4) adding some extra sugar when activating the yeast, 5) by letting the dough rise a little longer than 1 hour, 6) by rolling the dough out and letting it rise in the pan, 7) by cooking the crust just a little bit before placing the toppings, 8) by kneeding hard and fast, 9) and by kneeding slower and more thoroughly.

Does anybody think I should just go ahead and try a french bread, or sour dough bread recipe as a pizza dough? (and I don't mean making french-bread pizza). That is something that I have not tried yet.
Joined Aug 14, 2000
Here's what I would try next. Use a little more water and about half the amount of yeast. Are your letting the dough sit in the fridge over night? Also, the pizza tone is key.
Joined Nov 15, 2000
In Jeffery Steingarten's It Must Have Been Something I Ate (The Return of the Man Who Ate Everything) he shares a recipe and method for making pizza crust that yields the best pizza crust ever (imho).

The formula is similar to what you're using now (if I had the book with me, I'd share the specifics - sorry!). A pizza stone is key if you're not using one already. If you have a gas oven, put the stone right on the floor of the oven and preheat that baby for about an hour at the highest temperature it offers. Steingarten finds (while researching the essay) that commercial pizza ovens are generally around 800 degrees. While it's nearly impossible to replicate that at home, getting your oven as hot as possible will definitely improve your pizza crusts.
Joined Dec 4, 2001
Another thing that promotes a crispy crust is steam. Commercial bread ovens have steam injectors (and I hear tell some high end residential ovens do too) but you can approximate it by squirting water into the oven as soon as your pizza is on the stone. You can buy a spray bottle (99 cents at Target) and fill it with water. Squirt some on the walls of the oven to generate steam and/or spray some directly on the dough.

Joined Dec 23, 2003
In addition to the previous author's recommendation (steam) try brushing the outside crust with water before it goes in the oven. It will take longer for the crust to brown, so compensate for this with very cold sauce and cheese.

Try another version where you brush the outer edge with a beaten egg.

You might be able to improve on your flour. Try finding a local bakery that will sell you hi-gluten bread flour. If you've only been using supermarket flour, this will make a difference.

One trick that I've come across in my readings is not one pizza stone but two, one on the shelf above the other, so you get intense heat from above as well as below.

Replicating commercial pizza in a home oven is pretty tricky stuff. Good luck!
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