Saturday, October 03, 2009

Tom's Pizza Crust Recipe

I'm always searching for a better pizza crust recipe. I love pizza and I love to make it at home. I've got the peel, the stone, and the desire. But I've always struggled with the crust. I've had very good results with all the crust recipes I've ever tried. But never consistently. The recipe works great one time, and then the next it's disappointing.

A deliciously successful pizza. But I want to do better.

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
  1. Put all the water and oil in the bowl of a mixer.
  2. Add half the flour and all of the yeast. Mix to combine everything into a thick paste.
  3. Cover the bowl* and let it rest 20 minutes.
  4. Mix in the rest of the flour.
  5. Knead for 3 to 4 minutes in the mixer with the dough hook.
  6. Cover the dough and let it rise at room temperature for about 2 hours.
*Kitchen Aid mixers come with a plastic bowl cover; I just use that.

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.

7 comments:

  1. Wow, that looks good. I like the slices of tomato on top.

    I don't know if it matters, but the pizza place this dough is based on always makes their pizzas with sauce all the way to the edge of the crust. I wonder if/how that affects the crispness of the edge and if the sauce somehow changes the texture? I bet it doesn't matter, but it's something I will experiment with.

    I'll be interested in the changes you have to make to the dough. I bet your flour is different from ours. I'm using standard, American, all purpose flour. I did try high gluten flour, but the pizza was too hard.

    By the way, I weigh everything, including the oil. For the water it doesn't matter, but I wonder if the oil is 1 gram per ml? The dough I made with the highest percentage of oil was the softest, so small changes there seem to make a big difference for me.

    Happy experimenting!

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  2. Looks delicious :)))

    I imagine that you know all about the different kinds of French flours, but I didn't, and a while ago I found a couple of links explaining the different flours:

    en français from SuperToinette.com

    in English, from PracticallyEdible.com

    Judy

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  3. Walt, it look scrumptious!

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  4. Walt, I make my own pizza dough which I reckon is pretty good. I don't use oil in the dough at all. It's basically a standard bread dough rolled thin and only proved once. I used bread (hard) flour. I bet it's the flour that makes the difference.
    Good luck with your experiments.
    Sue

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  5. I've tried to make homemade pizzas a 'regular' here but I can't get Someone to 'catch on' - he likes the frozen types with add-ons.
    Yours looks far more delicious.

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  6. tom, I wonder about the sauce to the edge, too, but we like the crusty edge. The second test came out very good; I didn't even use sauce this time, just some tomates confites that we had on hand. I didn't weigh the oil, just winged it. But is should be lighter than water. Doubling the yeast rather than increasing it by half also made a difference - the dough rose a bit in the fridge!

    judy, I usually use type 55, but I've used type 45 and found it much finer. I've never even see the other types where I shop.

    kyle, oh, it was!

    michael, there is a bit of a time investment, but since the dough gets made the day before, it's easy enough.

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  7. I'll have to try this. I can get a good result from pizza dough that I make in my bread machine. My main complaint is that I can only make thick-crust pizza this way. I have yet to get a thin crust result that I'm happy with.

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