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~ Preschutti Pizza, Part II: Our Favorite Crust ~

PICT0650 Welcome to part two of Kitchen Encounters first mini-series:  a three-part post, posted over three days (yesterday, today and tomorrow), about my family's love for perfect pizza!  Yesterday we made Our Favorite Preschutti Pizza Sauce, and today we area going to make Our Favorite Preschutti Pizza Crust.  Tomorrow we'll be concentrating on toppings!

Memories of our Happy Valley homes, our last one on Belmont Circle and our present one on Gaylord Lane, will doubtlessly include Friday night get-togethers at our rec room bar(s), both affectionately referred to as:  "The Preschutti Bar & Grille".  Over the years, we have acquired a regular clientele of close-knit friends (& family) who gather on an occasional basis, usually on Friday nights, for the "House Pizza & Caesar Salad".  Wide-ranging topics of conversation, unrepeatable at times, solve the immediate problems of our guests, ourselves and in extreme cases, the world.  Our "regulars" are always in the mood for homemade "pizza & Caesar", and for the most part, they can be called into and are ready for action at a moment's notice.  Their names have not been changed to protect the guilty, but, as it goes, what happens in The Preschutti Bar & Grille stays in The Preschutti Bar & Grille.

As I said yesterday, a great pizza crust and a great pizza sauce go hand-in-hand, and in our house, one without the other is just not acceptable.  Yesterday I made my pizza sauce (because you should always prepare your sauce before your crust) and today I'm making my unique Sicilian-style pizza crust.  Sicilian-style pizza is traditionally rectangular in shape.  It is a thick-crust pizza that is crispy on the outside and chewy in the center.  I refer to my crust as unique for one reason:  while it is quite popular, you won't find many home cooks who know enough about it to successfully make it.  It had its origin in Palermo, Sicily, and unlike Neapolitan pizza, it is typically square, and as I said above, it is a thick-crust pizza.  It is topped with a hearty, full-flavored, stovetop-simmered sauce and topped with lots of cheese(s).  Toppings often include pecorino cheese and bits of anchovies, but those are not requirements.  In the United States, Sicilian pizza crust is sometimes over an inch thick and foccacia-like, which is a bastardization of the traditional recipe and I won't be showing you how to make that today.

As I also said yesterday, I made the decision to post this pizza recipe in three parts, because in reality it is indeed three recipes and I want you to gain an appreciation for each one of them. You can surely make one or two parts without the other(s), to use as you choose, but I highly recommend that you make all three all at the same time and make a couple of my Sicilian pizza pies before you do!  To read the other two parts of this post, go to:

~ Preschutti Pizza, Part I:  Our Favorite Sauce ~, found in Categories 8, 12 & 22, along with;

~ Preschutti Pizza, Part III:  Our Favorite 4 Toppings ~, also found in Categories 2, 12 & 19.


















9  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (2 3/4 pounds of unbleached flour)

6  packets granulated dry yeast, NOT rapid-rise

1 1/2  teaspoons garlic powder

1  1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend

2  teaspoons sugar

2  teaspoons salt

3-3 1/2  cups hot tap water

4  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, for preparing pans

4-8  tablespoons additional extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing crusts

olive-oil no-stick cooking spray

PICT0537 ~ Step 1.  In the work bowl of a large-capacity food processor fitted with the steel blade, place all of the flour, the yeast, garlic powder, Italian seasoning blend, sugar and salt.

Note:  If you do not have a large-capacity food processor, this recipe has been written to easily cut in half, which will make two Sicilian-style pizza crusts instead of four.



~ Step 2.  Place the top/lid on the food processor and, using a series of 10-15 rapid on-off pulses combine the dry ingredients thoroughly, about 10-15 seconds.













~ Step 3.  Measure and have ready 3 1/2 cups of very hot tap water.

With the motor of the food processor running, add the water, in a thin stream, through the feed tube.

Continue to add water until a large ball of dough forms.  This will take anywhere from 3-3 1/2 cups of hot water.  Stop adding water the moment the ball of dough forms.

Continue to knead dough in processor, with the motor running, for 30-45 more seconds.  This means, the dough will spin around in the processor for 30-45 seconds.

PICT0551 This is what the finished dough will look like.












~ Step 4.  Spray the inside of a 2-gallon size food storage bag with no-stick cooking spray.  We are going to use this bag to rise our pizza dough in.  Yep.  We're going to put our dough in the bag and let it rise.  

Note:  This might seem odd to you, and it is indeed a unique way to rise pizza dough, but once you try it, you'll be using this method to rise all sorts of dough.  Wait until you see how easy/mess free this is...

PICT0557 ~ Step 5.  CAREFULLY remove the ball of dough from the food processor.  The steel blade of the processor is as sharp as a knife. Trust me, you do not want to cut your fingertips on this.

Form the dough into a round ball and place it in the bag.  Zip or twist the bag closed and set it aside to allow the dough to rise, until the dough is doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes...



... Are you amazed?  It works every time!

What happens is this:  as the yeast grows, it generates heat.  Inside of a plastic bag, it also generates humidity.  The perfect environment for rising any type of dough!




~ Step 6.  Using a pastry brush or a paper towel, oil each of 4, 13" x 9" baking pans with extra-virgin olive oil.

Remove the dough from the food storage bag and divide it into 4 equal parts.  Form each part into a ball and place each ball on an oiled pan.  Let the balls of dough rest for 10 minutes.

PICT0569 ~ Step 7.  To form each crust, pat and push each piece of dough evenly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of each pan.  This is really easy if you have a little bit of EVOO on your fingertips.

Note:  Do not form the crusts one at a time, meaning: alternate 1, 2, 3, & 4, working each one a bit at a time. You want them all to be formed and finished at about the same time.

PICT0571 ~ Step 8.  Using a pastry brush, brush the entire surface of each crust with olive oil, about 1-2 tablespoons per crust.

You now have four Sicilian-style pizza crusts waiting for toppings. Our Favorite Toppings will be tomorrows post, so... STAY TUNED!!!



Preschutti Pizza, Part II:  Our Favorite Crust:  Recipe yields 4, 13" x 9" crusts, or 10 slices each.

Special Equipment List:  large-capacity food processor; 4-cup measuring container; 2-gallon food storage bag; pastry brush or paper towel; 4, 13" x 9" baking pans

Cook's Note:  I can't wait for you to read tomorrow's post, ~ Preschutti Pizza, Part III:  Our Favorite Toppings ~ !

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)


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