The Crowd Pleaser… Rustic Thin Crust Pizzas
On a gloomy Sunday afternoon, I sat on the couch and lazily flipped through the channels. I was suffering from severe boredom and there was no hope in sight. Fortunately, my good friend called me and invited me over to make some homemade pizza. I gathered my things quickly and arrived at her house ready to dive into a cheesy pizza. Unfortunately, I had misunderstood my friend. She had invited me to actually MAKE the pizza with her. I scratched my head and wondered, if making the dough… proofing the dough… and finally rolling out the dough was all actually worth the time. My very hungry and determined friend convinced me that indeed it was, and together we set out on creating a true rustic Italian pizza. A thin, crispy crust was in order, and the recipe we put together created just that. After mastering these cheesy beauties we created this pizza over and over again, each time with different ingredients… From fresh mozzarella to salty prosciutto to creamy ricotta, we created endless combinations to go with our incredible crust. With a crisp Pinot Grigio and a colorful antipasti platter, we had brought the Italian countryside into her kitchen. Smiles adorned our once hungry husbands’ faces and silence fell over the warm kitchen, as we all bit into a little slice of Italy. This recipe is a must for any hungry housewife or grumbling tummy.
INGREDIENTS (makes two 6-inch pizzas):
3/4 cups (6 ounces) lukewarm water
1 teaspoon active-dry or instant yeast
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
for the base, any pizza sauce you like
assorted toppings of your choice
*If you decide to make pizzas without any sauce on them in the flatbread style, make sure you brush them with olive oil so they do not dry out*
1. Set the oven to 500°F or as hot as it will go and let it heat for at least a half an hour before making the pizza. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the lower-middle part of the oven now. *A pizza stone is a really great tool to invest in. It creates the perfect thin and crispy crust, and it will last you a very long time*
2. Combine the water and yeast in a mixing bowl, and stir to dissolve the yeast. The mixture should look like a thin miso soup. Allow the yeast to rise for about 10-25 minutes in a warm place. *Yeast dough is sometimes finicky. If at first your yeast does not rise,.. try again. Make sure your water is the correct temperature; this is typically what kills the yeast. Most importantly: be patient*
3. Add the flour and salt to the mixing bowl of a Kitchenaid mixer with a dough hook attached and mix until you’ve formed shaggy dough. *Yeast does NOT like salt. Only add salt when combining with another ingredient, never directly to the yeast*
4. Knead the dough with a dough hook in your mixer for about 5 minutes, until it is visibly smooth.
5. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface along with any loose flour still in the bowl. Knead until all the flour is incorporated.
6. The dough should still feel moist and slightly tacky. If it’s sticking to your hands and counter-top like bubble gum, work in more flour, one tablespoon at a time, until it is smooth. Pour some olive oil into the bottom of your mixing bowl and place dough in it. Roll the dough in the bowl, so it is covered with oil.
7. Put a cup of water in the microwave and heat for 1.5 minutes. Remove the cup. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place into the microwave and let rise for 45-60 minutes. *The microwave creates a perfect environment for the dough to proof*
8. In the meantime prepare whatever ingredients you like.
9. Tear off a tennis ball sized dough and knead with your hands.
10. Work from the middle of the dough outwards, using the heel of your hand to gently press and stretch the dough until it’s about 1/4 of an inch thick or less. For an extra-thin crust, roll it with a rolling pin. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for five minutes and then continue rolling. *When assembling pizzas, make sure to place toppings on the dough on your pizza peel*
11. Spoon a few tablespoons of sauce into the center of the pizza and use the back of a spoon to spread it out to the edges. Pile on all of your toppings.
12. Bake for about 5-8 minutes.
13. Remove the pizza from oven and let it cool 5 minutes.