I’ve never been entirely happy with the pizza crust I’ve made at home. So when I saw a recipe in The Houston Chronicle from Mario Batali
with a new method for making thin crust pizza, I was intrigued. He forms individual pizza crusts and precooks the dough disks in a hot skillet before topping and transferring to the oven. I tried it (with one of my own dough recipes) and it makes an awesome crust, simultaneously crispy and chewy – sturdy, but you’ll be able to fold the slices in half if you like. I’ve made this twice and both times, it’s been way better than any pizza I’ve made before.
You can freeze the dough, or precook the crusts and freeze them for later.
|Cooking the first side.
|Crusts ready for topping.
Best Ever Pizza Crust
1-1/4 cups warm water, about 105 F
1-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup bread or all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups whole wheat flour (or more as needed)
Add water, yeast and all-purpose flour to a medium bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with dough hooks. Combine well with a fork, cover, and let stand for 45 minutes to an hour. The mixture will bubble up and expand.
Add vital wheat gluten, sugar, salt, and olive oil and combine with a fork. If you’re using a stand mixer to knead the dough, start it now. Add remaining flour, stopping to combine the last of the flour with a fork if necessary. Let mixer knead dough for 5 minutes on low, or turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes. If dough is sticky, add more flour as necessary, 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time.
Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for an hour, until doubled in size.
Punch down dough and divide it into eight pieces. Cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes at room temperature.
Preheat a 10-inch or larger heavy skillet to about 375 F. (Think of the range of heat you would use to cook pancakes and use the hottest setting in this range. For me, this is mark 6 on my largest gas burner.)
Alternating between using a rolling pin and your hands, roll and stretch a piece of dough to a diameter of 9 to 10 inches. If you tear it, just pinch it back together.
Transfer dough round to the skillet and cook until it bubbles on the top and is lightly brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip over and brown the other side for about 2 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack and repeat with remaining dough.
Preheat oven to 450 F.
Place pizza crusts on a baking sheet and top lightly as desired. Be careful not to overload the crusts.
Turn off oven and turn on broiler to high. Broil about 4 inches from the heat until toppings are heated through, about 5-7 minutes.
Makes 8-10 servings.
UPDATE: For the best crust, use a dark baking sheet.
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