Making the perfect thin pizza crust???

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by zdawgnight, Mar 1, 2011.

  1. zdawgnight

    zdawgnight

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    I am a a self proclaimed good home cook and one thing I have been enjoying lately is playing around with pizza. I like thick crust but there is something magical about a crispy thin crust. I would love help with my dough recipe. What I am trying to get is crunchy but with a bit of give to it. 

    This is my recipe now

    2 packages of dry yeast, 1/2 cup warm water and 2 tablespoons of honey

       I let that sit for about 10 minutes then add

    about 4 cups 00 bread flour and 2 teaspoons of salt once mixed I slowly add about 2 cups of water till it looks like a semi dry mound of dough. I then knead it for about 15 minutes, and give it an hours to rise

    I cook at 450 till the cheese is bubbly and crust is brown. Also I use a pizza stone.

    What comes out is pretty good but not perfect. The dough before I cook it doesnt seem to be to strong, I dont know if I haven't kneaded it enough or am missing something in my ingredients.

    Another thing I would like to play around with but am not sure how to go about it is flavoring the crust has anyone tried adding herbs, spices, onions or garlic to a dough before cooking. Id love to work on making crust flavors to go with my topping combinations but am hoping to find a good starting block.
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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  3. halmstad

    halmstad

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    I got the book "American Pie" by Peter Reinhart. It's a great pizza cookbook. There's a bunch of different kinds of crust recipes.

    Do you use a pizza stone? If not, you should definitely get one if you're getting into a pizza frame of mind. I bought one for myself for Christmas and haven't bought a delivery pizza since. 

    Reinhart's dough recipes make enough for 4-6 pizzas. you can freeze individual crusts and pull them out whenever you're hungry. 

    The sauce recipes are pretty standard, but easily tweaked.

    I'm actually spending the afternoon making a new batch of dough and sauce and making a couple of pies.

    Napoletana Pizza Dough-Reinhart

    Makes 6-6oz doughs

    5 c unbleached ap flour

    1 3/4 t table salt

    1 t instant yeast

    1 3/4 c plus 2 T cool water

    mix all in electric mixer with dough hook for 4 min on low speed

    let rest for 5 min

    mix again for 2 min

    form into a uniform ball and transfer to olive oil lined bowl, cover with plastic and let sit at room temp for 20 min

    put bowl in refrigerator overnight or at least 8 hours

    portion into 6 equal portions and freeze or use

    very good crisp, thin crust.
     
  4. dc sunshine

    dc sunshine

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    zdawgnight - hi :) - are you knocking down the dough after the first proving and then proving again?  I am no expert, it may be worth asking this question in the Baking Forum.

    As to flavouring the dough, I'm not sure, but would expect that using dried and ground spices rather than fresh would be better.  If I'm wrong, I'm sure someone will correct me.  I know in Asia that flatbreads are made with sliced (fresh) spring onions incorporated into it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2011
  5. zdawgnight

    zdawgnight

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    I wasn't sure where to post so I figured the general forum would be a good starter. I enjoy taking a recipe and pulling things from my own preferences and experiences to make it my own. The problem is when it comes to dough I am quite limited in experience. I have played around with the recipe I posted like trying 00 flour and using a pizza stone.

    phatch-  yeah that is definately a fair bit different but the more recipes I can play around with the better I'll learn thanks

    halmsted- thanks for sharing the recipe and book Ill have to check it out and try that recipe I never thought about freezing the dough thats a great idea.

    DC sunshine- Im guessing by proving you mean letting it rise? Sorry most my cooking is by playing around and by learning from watching my parents, so i dont know much lingo. If it is letting it rise I only do it once after I  knead the dough.
     
  6. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I love pizza dough made with bread flour, that's how I make it when I want my pizza dough to be soft and a little thicker.  But most often I like to make thin crisp pizza so for that I use 2 parts unbleached all-purpose flour mixed with 1 part 00 semolina flour.  That's the key to getting a crisper dough.  You can buy 00 semolina flour at a bakery.

    After it rises knead it again and let it rise again.  This also helps.  Some people have suggested to me to make the dough on the day prior and to refrigerate over night.  Then let it come up to room temperature and let it rise again before you use it.  I haven't tried it but people swear it makes for crisper pizza.

    Another thing that is important in making a nice crisp dough is oven temp.  I set mine to 500F and let it heat up for a good half hour before I put anything in there.  I don't have fancy pizza stones but I have used the perforated pizza pans which don't do anything for crispness.  I've had the best luck by using the upside down flat surface of round deep roasting pans.  Slather with some oil before you set your dough on it.  I don't know why but it works.

    As for adding flavors to your pizza crust, why not?  Anything goes.  I may use some zahtar next time.
     
  7. maryb

    maryb

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    Use just enough water to make a very dry dough. Put it in a container and put a lid on leaving a corner open. Let it sit on the counter overnight. When you open the container you will have a stiff dough that will need rolling out instead of hand stretching. The smell from the dough will be somewhat beery and the dough will have a lot of flavor.
     
  8. zdawgnight

    zdawgnight

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    koukouvagia- I think I will be trying your ideas this weekend although Im tempted to do bread flour and wheat flour any thoughts?

    MaryB-  That sounds indredibly interesting, I do like stretching and having a little spring in the dough but I like the idea of a beery flavor that sounds awesome.

    I wonder how it would turn out if I used beer instead of water?

    Keep em coming Id love to hear more about what people are do with thier pizza doughs at home!
     
  9. notbert

    notbert

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    One of the best decisions I made when I got serious about baking was to buy a digital kitchen scale. Converting your recipes to weight makes it a lot easier to track the adjustments you are making. You'll also wind up with much more consistent results.

    I'm on board with the suggestion of letting the dough sit overnight. If you decide to do that you might want to cut the yeast down by a packet and maybe ease off on the honey a little bit. Too much rise and your dough could end up collapsing. Keeping it in the fridge will allow the flavor to develop and keep the yeast activity at a dull roar. Whatever changes you decide to make try not to do too many things at once or it'll take you twice as long to figure out what you did right /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif.
     
  10. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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  11. jamsearch

    jamsearch

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    1 lb flour

    1/2 cup + 1 T.   warm water

    1/4 cup    vegetable oil

    2 t. yeast

    2 t. sugar

    1 t. salt

    Pour water in mixing bowl and add yeast. Wisk to mix for 5 seconds. Add remaining ingredients and mix 5 minutes and until it pulls from sides. Should be a little dry. Put in plastic bag and place in a container with lid and allow to sit for at least 4 hours or overnight. Use either a dough roller or roll it out thin with a rolling pin. Roll out to 1/8" thick. Place on a oil sprayed seasoned metal pizza pan and add sauce and cheese and whatever else and cook for about 6 minutes at 500 degrees F. Now slide off of pan onto the bottom of a pizza oven or hot stone and finish cooking.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2011
  12. worldmaster

    worldmaster

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    hay you dont need to put any yeast if you wont the thine crust .
     
  13. bishop

    bishop

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    Pizza crust seems like such a simple thing, but that is wrong. I have been playing around for almost 3 years now. Everytime you make a batch you get better.

    I am a big fan of sourdough or naturally leavened pies. I am also a fan of cold fermenting your dough for at least 3 days.

    My suggestion is to read this and then make some pies. For a thin crust just hand press the dough out more with less of a cornichone.
     
  14. grumio

    grumio

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    A lot of herbs, spices & aromatics that you might want to put in dough have antifungal properties & can inhibit yeast growth to one degree or another.  The usual fix is to start with a little more yeast.
     
  15. teamfat

    teamfat

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  16. jazzcook

    jazzcook

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    I'm a pizza nerd and make a pretty good pie. 

    Proper thin-crust requires high, intense heat, much more than a home oven can provide.  So we're up against it right off the bat; this is why a pizza stone is essential, it is the only way to cook the crust in the same manner as a professional pizza oven, searing the crust for crispness while drawing moisture out.  Do not use sheet pans or those round perforated "pizza pans", they are unnecessary.  Use a pizza peel and slide it directly onto (and off of) the stone.  Crank your oven as high as it will go and warm it up for as long as you can.  I usually do 45min to an hour.  Ovens vary greatly, and you may find that you need to finish the top under the broiler if your oven can't get into the 450-500 deg range.  Get a cheap oven thermometer and learn your oven.  The broiler can also provide a nice char to the top of the crust, which is visually appealing and helps if you like your cheese more browned like I do. 

    Here's the bottom line:  The key to achieving *your* pefect crust is understanding the wetness of your dough to the intensity of your heat.  Simply put, the higher your heat, the wetter your dough.  If the dough's not wet enough for your (high) heat it will dry out.  Conversely if your dough's too wet for your (lower) heat you risk sogginess in the middle as the pie takes forever to cook and doesn't crisp up right.  This is why it's so important to know your oven and use a pizza stone...

    As for flour, I prefer 50% AP and 50% Bread.  I find this gives a smooth dough with the best flavor and balance of chewy to crisp.  For wheat dough I go no higher than half wheat to half AP or Bread.  Sometimes just under half, like 60-40%.  It's not as healthy as all wheat would be, but it's a way better eating experience!  As for other ingredients I use the usual ADY and proof it in warm water with some sugar, then add it to the flour and salt.  Olive oil is optional but nice, I've made equally good crusts with or without.  I used to use a food processor to combine the dough (don't own a stand mixer), but I've converted to doing it all by hand.  Once you get it down it's so much easier and more fun, and all you have to clean up is a bowl and a wooden spoon!

    Here's the basic process as I do it, for one good sized pie.  While I own a scale, I don't use it.  I generalize the measurements and go by feel now, but it's good to measure and be precise when first learning what affects what, and what you're looking for.  Of course in a professional setting, precise measurements are necessary for consistency and other reasons...

    - Proof half a packet of yeast with a half teaspoon or so of sugar and 1/4 cup warm (but not hot) water, about 15mins.

    - Mix two cups of flour with a teaspoon of salt in a large bowl.

    - Add proofed yeast to flour, along with about half a cup of room-temp water.  Have both extra water and flour on hand to make adjustments.

    - Stir the contents with a wooden spoon.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil (optional).

    - When the stirring gets too tough, finish the job with your hands.  As the dough combines it'll smooth out and not stick to your hands so much.  Add small amounts of water if it's too dry and the flour isn't all getting combined, or add flour if the dough is too wet and sticky and isn't combining well. 

    - Eventually it'll come together into a ball.  Keep working it until it is smooth and all the flour has been combined.  You'll have a lovely ball of dough in your hands.

    Throw the doughball onto your clean counter and knead it for about five minutes or so.  It shouldn't be sticking to the counter at this point, if it is it may be too wet.  If you're going for a very wet dough, oil the counter lightly with olive oil but don't flour (the wet dough will just absorb the flour).  Knead until it is soft and smooth and luxurious, you'll know it when it's ready.  Form into a tight ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm, dry place for at least an hour.  Once it has doubled, take it out and punch it down gently.  Reform it into a ball and if eating that day, sprinkle with flour on a lightly floured counter and let it rise again under a tea towel, about a half hour to an hour.  When ready, gently work the dough out to the sides from the middle, rotating as you go, until you get a nice, thin crust.  It shouldn't fight you too much with spring back, if it does this could be from too much kneading with high gluten flour.  There is such thing as too much gluten development, it produces a dough that is hard to shape and very chewy.  Once pie is shaped, transfer to a well floured and cornmealed peel.  Add toppings and when ready, slide quickly onto the pizza stone.  Don't have the oven door open any longer than necessary, you need all the heat you can get!  The pie should take about ten minutes, finish under broiler for extra char.  Experiment with where you place your stone; I used to put it on the bottom, but now am using it in the middle.  If not eating that day, lightly oil the doughball and put in a ziplock freezer bag, and store in your fridge for up to three days; just let it come to room temperature for about an hour or so on the counter before you make it...

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2011
  17. pcieluck

    pcieluck

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    i began my career making pizzas, and now when people ask me for advice on their pizza dough, i find people trying to overdo it. that 00 flower is nice... don't get me wrong. Plenty of people would like to tar and feather me for saying this... but it makes kind of bland crust. I find that the unbleached flours at my local store provide much more flavor.  

    Someone above mentioned using semolina flour in the dough. I personally just coat the dough with the stuff before tossing, and use it to dust my surface. adds flavor and crunch. Using regular flower to work your dough makes the outside chalky and gross. Pizza stones make a huge difference. 450* is good for convection ovens, but for conventional ovens I tend to go 500*. When using the stone, make sure that you have offered the stone at least a half hour to preheat with your oven.  Look at the bottom of your pie. Is it too dark when the top of your pizza is finished? Then your heat is too low, and vice versa.

    Many people do not kneed their dough enough. Good pizza dough is elastic and high in gluten. Obviously if it's not elastic, you can't toss or stretch it. No elasticity also means your dough will be dense and kinda...wierd. You want it to have some air pockets and be chewie.  I see lots of on countertop rising in this thread that'll take an hour at the most. Good for spontaneous days, but for best flavor allow the dough to rise in your refrigerator for at least a day. Yeast and fermentation taste good! You could even go another step further and use a biga in your dough, if you wanted.
     
  18. dcarch

    dcarch

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    Here is my method to make a Neapolitan style thin crust pizza:

    1. Crank up my oven to the highest (500+degrees F)

    2. Heat up a large cast iron frying pan on the stove to screaming hot.

    3. Put your pizza in the pan and immediately put the pan in the very hot oven

    4. In about one to two minutes the pizza will be done.

    dcarch

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  19. zdawgnight

    zdawgnight

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    I had an opportunity to adjust my crust this weekend and took 2 steps forward but one step back.  I dropped my yeast by half and instead of just kneading and letting it rise just once i did it twice. It took a lot longer but made the crust much closer to where I want it. Also made it easier to form into a round which was a nice plus. I was quite happy with the product although I made my sauce a little to thin (which was my step back). I didn't play with any added spices but I did try putting some honey butter that I melted and salted on the crust and thought it was incredibly good.

    Grumio- thats what I was worried about and was hoping someone had played around before i jump in blindly.

    Bishop- thanks for that link I think I wil lbe trying that next.

    Thanks everyone for all the input Im really happy with how much info I have recieved for this thread! If only I had more time to try out new things sooner!
     
  20. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    You need this cast iron pizza pan. I've been using for a thick crust pizza, but doing it similar to yours in that I heat in on the stove first.



    Also makes good pancakes. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif