By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Sidney_Stone]Sidney Stone
The biggest gripe I have heard from my friends about making pizza at home is that the crust is never crispy enough. In my experience, home baking stones are the best tool to achieve a pizzeria style crispy crust. However, even without a baking stone, you can still create a crispy pizza crust that would rival a crust baked on a stone. In my years of making pizza, I have come to rely on a few shortcuts and techniques that you may find useful in your own pizza-baking adventures.
Making an awesome pizza - from scratch to finish - doesn't take very long and tastes so much better than the grease-drenched corporate crap you can get delivered. Sadly, there is nowhere to get a good pizza around here. Our area is completely dominated by the pukey corporate brands. So, we are left with no choice but to make pizza at home. So, here is my typical pizza production process:
1. Mise en place
7. Cut and Serve
Mise en place
Pronounced "MEEZ IN PLAHS", mise en place is french for "setting in place". Cooks use the term when referring to setting up your cooking space. This includes getting out all the utensils, pans, tools, etc that you will need for preparation. This is what I do for pizza mise en place:
Put out the following For Cheese and Prep:
- Cutting board
- Large knife
- Cheese Grater
- Large Ziplock Bag
- Cheeses to be grated
- Bowl for mixing sauce
- Small Whisk
- Pizza Spice Mix
- 1 28oz can Tomato Puree
- Pull out food processor & dough blade
- 1 packet Rapid Rise Yeast
- Olive Oil
- Dough Docker
- Rolling pin
Then, turn the oven on to 500 degrees. That covers our basic pizza mise en place.
My pizza prep usually includes grating cheese and chopping toppings. Fresh grated cheese has more taste and is not coated with dust to keep it from sticking together in the bag. I grate some high quality mozzarella, usually 16oz for a whole pizza. Once grated, it gets tossed in the ziplock with 3/4 cup grated parmesan (please not Kraft - that is not parmesan...) Depending on what I have in the fridge, I might toss in some romano or asiago in the mix too. Whatever your cheese mix, seal the bag tightly and shake it up to evenly distribute the cheeses. Then, throw the bag in the fridge until needed for assembly.
Through the years, I have tried making every kind of pizza crust I could find. I have tried thick crusts; thin crusts; yeast crusts; baking powder crusts; flavored crusts; whole wheat crusts; cheese filled crusts; the list just goes on and on. Our favorite is a nice crispy thin crust, as described below.
Making the dough with the food processor is so easy. First, make a sponge out of the yeast, 1/2 cup warm (not hot) water, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 cup flour. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then, in the food processor, tip in 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Pulse it a few times til the dough starts to come together, then hold down pulse for about 15-20 seconds until the dough comes together in a single ball. Don't overdo it or your crust will be tough.
To make cleanup a snap, layout a big rectangle of heavy duty aluminum foil on the countertop and lightly cover with flour - for rolling out the dough. Put the dough ball on the flour-dusted foil-covered countertop and let it rest about 5 minutes to loosen up. Then, roll it out to the desired size and mercilessly dock it with the dough docker. This keeps evil air bubbles from forming in the crust and helps the crust to bake evenly. Before I had a dough docker, I used a plain old fork to prick the crust.
Oil a standard size cookie sheet and place the rolled out crust on it. Then, carefully roll up the foil where you rolled the crust, and toss it into the garbage. Certainly simplifies cleanup.
I have tried all kinds of pizza sauces; Some made from tomato paste, tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, and even sundried tomatoes. I like to change up sauce periodically and try something weird and wild, but the one I have come to think of as our regular pizza sauce is pretty simple and basic. I mix up my spices first
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar (to kill the heartburn after eating)
In a small bowl, whisk the spice mix into the 28oz can of tomato puree (I use Muir Glen Organic Tomato Puree). Whisk til spices are evenly distributed.
This is the fun part. Sauce the crust, top with cheese and whatever toppings you want. Sprinkle with a little extra parmesean.
Put the pizza on the very bottom rack of the oven closest to the heating element. Let it bake for about 10-15 minutes until it is nice and golden brown.
Cut and Serve
When it's done, take it out of the oven, cut, and serve. I like to use the Zyliss Pizza Wheel as my standard pizza cutter. It puts all other pizza cutting mechanisms to shame.
So that's it. That's how to make plain old thin and crispy cheese pizza at home.
Sidney Stone is the editor of FoodRap.com and an enthusiastic personal chef that specializes in artisan breadmaking and pastries.
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