Who said a Pie couldn’t be savory? If you’ve got an oven, a grill and the will, then you can master a perfect thin crust pizza dough! There is a bit of a learning curve to mastering pizza dough; but don’t panic! Give this recipe a try, and if you still have issues, check your fear at the door and take my pizza class! Look for classes to begin soon in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles. In the meantime, give it a shot . . . what have you got to lose?
Hand-made Pizza dough:
2 1/4 tsps. instant dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 tbl. sugar
3 cups bread flour (or as needed: recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups in the mix, and the rest to be used sparingly for kneading)
2 tbls. olive oil
1 1/2 tsps. table salt
Add the water, yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup of the flour into a mixing bowl. Stir well and let sit for 20 minutes. It should bubble and rise, showing you that your yeast is well and active. Add the olive oil, salt and 2 cups of the flour; mix with a wooden spoon or preferably, a dough hook on a Kitchen Aid Mixer, until dough is together enough to turn out onto a lightly floured surface to knead (silpat mat works well here). Knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes, adding only enough flour on your hands if needed to prevent sticking, until you have a soft, elastic and slightly still sticky dough product (hence, you will not need the entire 3 cups of flour). Do not add too much flour!!!! Form the dough into a ball, and place it into a large oiled bowl. Drizzle a few drops of oil and coat the top of the dough to prevent the surface from becoming dry. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, place in a warm spot for 2 hours, until dough doubles in size. Then, punch down the dough, and divide it into 2 equal balls and place in the refrigerator wrapped in saran wrap, then into a Ziplock, overnight preferably. When ready to use, remove from the fridge, and let dough come to room temperature before using, about 15 minutes. Form pizzas by rolling the dough 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick i.e., really, really thin, on a floured piece of parchment paper; prick with a fork or dock with a pizza docker, and brush with olive oil; gently lift and place unoiled side of your pizza on your medium heated grill for about 5 minutes (just until it firms and grill marks appear on the underside). Remove the pizza, flip it over on a work surface, brush with olive oil lightly, sprinkle with salt, and you can take it from there. I smear it with fresh garlic lightly, add either red or white sauce and cheeses and toppings, and return it to the grill to continue baking, about 6-8 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and melted; don’t undercook, but watch underside for hot spots and shift pizza around on your grill for even cooking! Remove the pizza when done to an elevated baking rack, and let rest for 5 minutes to firm. Slice the pizza with a pizza cutter and enjoy! Cook’s Note: Remember that this is relatively fast cooking time; so things like pepperoni or sausages, you will want to pre-cook a little bit. Vegetables seem to work great with an al dente texture. And as for basil, add it on last, while the pizza is resting; the temperature will be hot enough to lightly wilt the basil, without cooking it into an ugly green/brown oblivion color! Cook’s Note 2: Sprinkle your finished pizza with a combination of some type of pizza sprinkle for added zest and flavor; remember, the sky’s the limit on the toppings! If you need pizza ideas, similar to what we make in class, e-mail me via the pie belle gmail, and I will respond accordingly with additional ideas and recipes.