So when my friend Tom (An Amateur Baker In Sidney) decided to experiment with oven baked crusts, I was glued to his blog. Tom has a real wood-fired pizza oven in his kitchen, but during the warm summer months he hesitates to build a fire and prefers to use his standard oven. But, he says, the crust recipe and technique are necessarily different for the standard home oven, due to the lower temperature.
Tom embarked on a series of experiments to perfect the crust. I tried his sixth version, and I have to say, I was impressed. First, it was easy to make in the Kitchen Aid and very clean. No hand kneading. No flour all over the kitchen. If you don't have a mixer with a dough hook, all the mixing and kneading can be done by hand.
My first attempt resulted in a pie that was good; very crispy on the bottom, but a little too crackery on the edge. I like the edge to be crispy on the outside and a little doughy on the inside. So I'm trying it again today with a change or two. I didn't want to make too many changes so as not to lose track of what's making a difference.
The main thing is that the first time I made two pizzas from Tom's recipe for one. I think that made me stretch the dough a little too thin. So my first change will be to increase the recipe by half to make my two standard pizzas. I'm also doubling the yeast.
I think there might be a difference between the flour I get here in France and Tom's flour. Also, there might be a difference in the yeast. But that's part of the fun, isn't it? Figuring it all out, and being able to eat the results. And the results are never bad, they're just another step on the way to pizza perfection!
Tom's Pizza Crust As Modified By Walt
- 335 grams all purpose flour
- 150 ml water
- 20 ml olive oil
- 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
- Put all the water and oil in the bowl of a mixer.
- Add half the flour and all of the yeast. Mix to combine everything into a thick paste.
- Cover the bowl* and let it rest 20 minutes.
- Mix in the rest of the flour.
- Knead for 3 to 4 minutes in the mixer with the dough hook.
- Cover the dough and let it rise at room temperature for about 2 hours.
At this stage, I take the dough out of the bowl and form a ball, divide it in half to make 2 balls of equal size, wrap each one in plastic and put them into the fridge overnight.
Tom rolls out the crust to the size he wants, then folds it into quarters with plastic wrap separating all the layers. He places this into the fridge for 1 or 2 days. Then when it's time to bake, he just unwraps the dough and unfolds it directly onto the pizza peel.
When I did this the first time, one of my crusts stuck a little to the plastic and I ended up balling it up and rolling it out again. So I'm just skipping this step and doing the rolling just before making the pie. I'll let the dough rest a little after the rolling before I top it and bake it.