On 25 September 2004, I published my first post on the Fanatic Cook blog. It was for Thin Crust Pizza. That was 13 years ago and the photos won’t show anymore (actually, they would if I paid for an upgraded Photobucket account which I’m not going to). But I wanted to save the recipe so here it is. I made this for years.
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 level teaspoon instant yeast
1 level teaspoon salt
3/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Topping (Your Choice)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced (or dried)
1 cup grated cheese (any combination of): mozzarella, cheddar, provalone
1/4 cup grated hard cheese: Parmesan or locatelli
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Dash salt (optional)
1. Stir flour, yeast, and salt together in a large bowl. Add oil to water. Create a well in the flour mixture. Stir the oil and water together and continue stirring as you pour it into the well in the flour. Mix briefly to make a wet dough.
Notes: High-protein or bread flours will produce a stronger gluten structure that makes the dough difficult to roll into a thin layer and results in a tougher, overly chewy crust. Regular all-purpose flour works best for me in this recipe.
Either instant or active dry yeast can be used. Instant yeast does not need to be proofed (dissolved in warm water until it foams) before use. Since it is more potent than active dry, less is usually needed.
If you do not continue to stir the liquid ingredients as you pour, the oil will coalesce at the top of the water and will be difficult to distribute evenly as you mix the dough.
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let sit for 20 minutes.
Note: This rest period is known as an autolyse. During autolyse the flour absorbs moisture and begins the gluten-forming process, both of which will make the dough less sticky during kneading. Since this recipe results in a wet dough, the autolyse period is essential to prevent the addition of too much flour.
3. Dust a clean, dry surface with flour. Dust top of dough with flour. Using a pastry scraper or rubber spatula, nudge dough onto surface. Dust with flour again. Fold dough over onto itself a few times, dusting with flour if it becomes too sticky to handle. (It will be very sticky.) Don’t knead this dough; it will develop gluten too much and be difficult to roll out. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in an undisturbed area away from drafts. Let rise until doubled in size, one or two hours at 72°F. Gently deflate, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for another hour.
Notes: The dough will be very wet and difficult to handle. Don’t be tempted to add too much flour to improve handleability. The wetter the dough, the lighter and crispier the crust.
To deflate, slide a spatula or spoon around the edges of the dough. Avoid poking or cutting the dough.
4. While dough is rising, place baking stone or tiles onto bottom shelf of oven and preheat to 525 degrees F for at least one hour.
5. Gently deflate dough and scoop out onto the center of a piece of parchment paper at least 15 inches wide. The dough should feel wet and tacky. Lay two sheets of plastic wrap over the dough, enough to cover the entire 15-inch area.
Note: Use a piece of parchment 15 inches wide by about 30 inches long. The extra room will give you more leeway when rolling. Since plastic wrap usually comes in 12 inch rolls, you will need two 30 inch sheets. Lay one sheet over half the dough, cover the remaining half with the other sheet.
6. Roll dough through plastic wrap into a 15-inch circle, 1/8 inch thick. (Alter the size of your rolled dough if your baking stone cannot accommodate a 15 inch round.) Allow the dough to rest under the plastic undisturbed for about 30 minutes. (If you’re pressed for time, you can omit this.) While the dough is resting, assemble topping ingredients.
Notes: If your tomato sauce has chunks of tomato or other vegetable, I recommend blending or pureeing the sauce. It will be easier to spread.
Combine the garlic and olive oil together apart from the tomato sauce. This may be blended into the tomato sauce before spreading, or drizzled over the sauce or cheese before cooking.
7. Slide a pizza peel or paddle, at least the size of your pizza dough, under the parchment paper holding the pizza. Gently peel away the plastic wrap. Spoon tomato sauce over dough. Spoon optional toppings over sauce: caramelized onions, diced (cooked) greens like rapini, kale, or spinach). Distribute grated cheeses over toppings. Sprinkle oregano, salt, or other dried spices (e.g. basil, garlic).
Note: Since you’re using parchment paper, the peel does not need to be floured. The pizza cooks directly on the parchment.
8. Slide pizza with parchment paper onto preheated oven stone. Total cook time is about 12 minutes or until cheese bubbles and begins to brown. Remove pizza and parchment with peel and place onto an inverted pizza pan or other surface that can withstand cutting. May be sliced using a pizza wheel or knife.
Note: From experience I’ve found that if you open the oven for any reason, say to turn dough around, reduce the oven temperature to about 490 degrees so it doesn’t get too hot when you close the door. Too hot will burn the cheese without cooking the dough.