Dressed up as a Mushroom, Sage, Fontina, and Parmesan Pizza.
The search for a great pizza dough recipe is very similar to the one I just discussed regarding the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe. There always seem to be new recipes making the Internet circuit before fading out when another one comes along. Last year I tried a recipe that was all the rage; it was from Allrecipes.com, and I had blogged about it, but that post has mysteriously gone missing. No matter, I wasn’t much of a fan – I found it to be much too doughy. I then moved on to Cooking Light’s Thin and Crispy Pizza Crust, which, while not doughy, seemed to err too much in the other direction. Likely because it is a “light” recipe, the crust was paper thin. Tonight, I think I hit the jackpot. Yet another winner from my Baking Illustrated cookbook from Cook’s Illustrated magazine. This crust is the perfect combination of a wonderfully crisp outer crust and chewy interior.
What’s behind the perfect pizza crust and recipes after the break…
As I was saying, this pizza dough combines the perfect crisp outer crust and chewy interior that makes for a superb pizza crust. The key to this is using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour, which produces a crispier exterior crust. Additionally, the use of a significant amount of water makes the dough softer, which creates a dough that is easier to shape. I have to admit that I was more than skeptical about baking this pizza with all of the toppings and not pre-baking the crust, as I have found this typically makes for a soggy bottom crust. Wow, was I proven wrong. This crust couldn’t be more perfect, due to preheating the stone in a 500° oven for 30 minutes, thereby pretty much cooking the bottom crust as soon as it hits the stone. Check out that crust:
This recipe states that it makes three medium-size pizzas, but I just divided the dough into two and froze one half and made the other into a large pizza (8 generous slices). I have also included my own pizza sauce recipe at the end of this post, because I think it’s great
(Source: Baking Illustrated, pages 153-155)
Makes enough for 3 medium pizzas.
We find the food processor is the best tool for making pizza dough. However, only a food processor with a capacity of at least 11 cups can handle this much dough. You can also knead this dough by hand or in a standing mixer (see the variations that follow). Unbleached all-purpose flour can be used in a pinch, but the resulting crust will be less crisp. If you want to make pizza dough in the morning and let it rise on the counter all day, decrease the yeast to 1/2 teaspoon and let the covered dough rise at cool room temperature (about 68 degrees) until doubled in size, about 8 hours. You can prolong the rising time even further by refrigerating the covered dough for up to 16 hours and then letting it rise on the counter until doubled in size, which will take 6 to 8 hours.
1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups (22 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting work surface and hands
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray for oiling the bowl
1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine.
2. Process the flour and salt in a large food processor, pulsing to combine. Continue pulsing while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few tablespoons) through the feed tube. If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse until a ball forms. Process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds longer.
3. The dough will be a bit tacky, so use a rubber spatula to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead by h and for a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball. Put the dough into a deep oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.
Pizza Dough Kneaded by Hand
Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead combine the salt and half the flour in a deep bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remaining flour, stirring until a cohesive mass forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic 7 to 8 minutes, using as little dusting flour as possible while kneading. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the recipe.
Pizza Dough Kneaded in a Standing Mixer
Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead place the flour and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the recipe.
Mushroom Pizza with Sage, Fontina, and Parmesan Cheese
(Source: Baking Illustrated, page 161)
Makes 3 medium pizzas, serving 6
Any fresh mushroom will work in this recipe, but cremini are especially good.
1 recipe Pizza Dough (see above)
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing on the stretched dough
1 pound fresh mushrooms, stem ends trimmed, sliced thin
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage leaves
Salt and ground black pepper
Semolina or cornmeal for dusting the pizza peel
3 cups pizza sauce
6 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (about 1½ cups)
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1. Prepare the dough as directed in the Pizza Dough recipe. Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Use a chef’s knife or dough scraper to divide the dough into three pieces. Form each piece of dough into three pieces. Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball and cover it with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.
2. While preparing the dough, heat the garlic and oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms are golden brown and the juices they release have evaporated, about 7 minutes. Stir in the sage and salt and pepper to taste. Set the mushrooms aside.
3. Working with one piece of dough at a time and keeping the others covered, shape the dough, then transfer it to a pizza peel that has been lightly dusted with semolina.
4. Lightly brush the dough round with olive oil. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce over the dough round, leaving a ½-inch border uncovered. Scatter a third of the mushrooms and then ½ cup fontina cheese over the sauce.
5. Slide the dough onto the heated stone. Bake until the crust edges brown and the cheese is golden brown in spots, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Parmesan, cut into wedges, and serve immediately. Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 with the remaining two pieces of dough and the remaining toppings.
Makes enough for 2 large pizzas.
15-oz can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Combine all ingredients.
Filed under: Pizza