A great pizza starts with a great crust, but, finding a pizza dough recipe to suit your requirements is not as easy as the ingredients list indicates: flour, water, salt, yeast, and sometimes sugar and/or olive oil. Cooks who take pizza making seriously have more than one pizza dough recipe in their repertoire because certain pizzas require a certain type of crust -- there's no getting around it. Beyond that, within each type, everyone who takes pizza making seriously, professionally or at home, makes their dough a bit differently. Pizza dough and pizza is personal -- there's no getting around that either. That said, if you are new to pizza dough, sans a lot of the chemistry and science behind pizza dough, here's a bit of helpful background:
The three best-known Italian-style pizzas are: 1) Neapolitan: A simple dough containing high-gluten flour, water, salt and yeast that gets a long 2-3 day rise in the refrigerator. Baked hot and fast, in 1-2 minutes, it's got a thin crispy bottom and a super-airy, chewy center. 2) New York-Style: A more complex dough containing all-purpose or bread flour, water, olive oil, salt, sugar and yeast that gets a shorter 8-12 hour rise in the refrigerator. Baked in a slightly more moderate oven for a longer period of time, 12-15 minutes, while crisp, it's tender, slightly-chewy center makes it pliable enough to fold in half. While still a thin crust pizza, it is slightly thicker than its Neapolitan cousin. 3) Sicilian-Style Pizza: Containing the same ingredients as New York-Style pizza, this distinctively thick-crust, square-shaped pizza gets baked with little or no rising time and is the easiest of the three to duplicate in the home kitchen. It gets patted out into a rectangular pan or sheet tray that has been slathered with olive oil, which when baked in a moderate-for-pizza oven (350-375 degrees) for 12-15 minutes literally fries the bottom of the crust to a crispy state. With a golden, crisp-fried bottom and a thick, soft, chewy center, this one is my husband Joe's favorite.
Here in the USA, if you travel from region to region, your going to run into some very unique spin-offs too. Two examples: The Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza (pictured here) with its thick, chewy cornmeal-based crust, and, the St. Louis-Style Pizza (pictured below) with its super-thin, crispy, cracker crust made from baking powder and no yeast. If you travel, one thing you can count on here in the states is: pizza, in some form, is available to you anywhere and everywhere.
That said, having done my fair share of traveling, I learned, the hard way, to put little stock in those published "best destination-pizza recommendations" from self-proclaimed pizza connoiseurs because I've been burned by them too many times to count. I've learned to "stick my nose in where it doesn't belong" -- lesser-known off-the-beaten-path pizza joints with a crowd hanging around out front.
Eat pizza you like, where you like it, &, make pizza the way you like it!
This is my easy, all-purpose pizza dough -- although it wasn't easy for me to come up with it, as it took several rounds of experimentation. Like my other 'za dough recipes, this one had to meet my requirements for this type of pizza. What I wanted from this dough was a high-quality, quick-and-easy time-saving New York-Style pizza dough for those times when I want/need this popular type of pizza in a relative hurry with no worry -- if you have teenage kids, you know what I'm talking about. Depending upon how large you want the pie, you can make it thicker, thinner, or somewhere in between. It can be round or square and it can be baked in a pan or on a stone too. It's versatile. It is, simply put, a great all-purpose pizza dough for novice pizza makers and busy folks who want to skip pizza delivery, or worse, that horrible store-bought pizza dough.
Thanks to the combination of all-purpose and high-gluten "00" flour, plus the addition of just the right amount of semolina flour to give it a bit of resilient chew, it turns out two crispy-bottomed pies with tender chewy centers -- it's pliable enough to hold and fold each slice in half too!
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup "00" flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1 packet granulated yeast, not rapid-rise yeast
Add the all-purpose flour, "00 flour" and semolina. Using your index finger, make a well in the top of the flour and add the yeast to it. Note: When making any type of bread machine dough, always add the wet ingredients first and the dry ingredients last.
~ Step 2. Insert the bread pan into the machine. Close the lid and push the "select" button. Then choose the "pizza dough" cycle. Push the "start" button. While the machine is running, ready your kitchen scale and pastry board.
~ Step 4. Using a paper towel, oil 2, 12" round pizza pans or 2, 12" x 9" rectangular pans with about 2 tablespoons olive oil on each pan. Place one ball of dough on each pan and allow to rest, about 10-15 minutes -- to give the gluten time to relax. Thirty minutes is ok too.
Note: For demonstration purposes, I'm make one round and one square pizza today, and, I'm not using fancy, expensive pans either.
~ Step 5. Pat and press dough evenly across bottoms and evenly up sides of pans. I do this in 3 parts taking 15-20 minutes, allowing dough to rest 5 minutes each time before patting and pressing again.
~ Step 7. At this point pizzas can be baked, one-at-a-time on center rack of a 375 degree oven that has been heated with a pizza stone in it, or, you can let them rise in the pans for 1 to 2 hours prior to baking, which, if you have the time, is worth the wait. This also allows you to assemble the pizzas ahead of time, which is a nice and welcomed convenience.
~ Step 8. Place each pan of pizza on pizza stone for 6-8 minutes. Using a spatula, lift a corner of the pie up and using your other hand (via a pot holder or mitt), tilt pan and slide pie off the pan onto the stone. Continue to bake for 6-7 more minutes, for a total of 12-15 minutes baking time. Crust will be lightly-brown and cheese will be molten. Using a pizza peel, transfer pizza to a rack to cool for 3-5 minutes, to allow the cheese to set up a bit, prior to slicing and serving.
Whether you prefer it round or square...
Special Equipment List: 1-cup measuring container; bread machine; kitchen scale (optional); 2, 12"-round pizza pans or 2, "13" x 9" baking pans (or one of each); paper towel; pizza stone; large metal spatula; pizza peel; large cooling rack
Cook's Note: Back in 2011 I wrote a trio of posts regarding making "Preschutti Pizza", more specifically: Sicilian-style pizza. The first of three parts, my recipe for ~ Preschutti Pizza: Our Favorite Sauce ~ can be found in Categories 8, 12 or 22. It's very similar to my marinara sauce, only much thicker. I make it every year and freeze it in 2-cup containers, which is enough to sauce two "standard-sized" pizza pies!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)