Friday, September 11, 2009

Perfect Pizza Crust

I have 100% conquered my fear of yeast! YESSSSS! This opens up a whole new worlds of cooking and baking. For a long time I have flirted with the idea of making my own pizza dough. However I really enjoy Boboli and similar fake pizza so I thought I shouldn't mess with a good thing. Well... well, well, well. I will NEVER go back. I made it, I am converted, and I am in love. This recipe is called "Perfect Pizza Crust" and it's not a lie- it's so perfect. I even had a major problem (I dropped the pizza on the way into the oven- luckily it fell on the bottom cookie sheet but it was a disaster. My carefully arranged veggies were a mess- my neat round dough was semi-rectangular... ugh...) and it still came out perfect. It's crispy and thin and everything pizza should be. I am in love. With pizza crust. Sigh.

Source: Annie's Eats originally from Baking Illustrated

Basic Pizza Dough
½ cup warm water (about 110°)
1 envelope (2 ¼ tsp.) instant yeast
1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 ½ tsp. salt
olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

To bake, place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form both pieces of dough into smooth, round balls and cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal. Top as desired. Slide the dough onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining ball of dough or freeze for later use.