Saturday, December 5, 2009

Italian Thin-crust Pizza

So there's this pizza place in the Twin Cities called "Punch." There are a lot of lovely pizza places here-- "Pizza Lucé" and a few others are awesome places to grab a slice. In my opinion, Punch blows them out of the water. The three of us went first went to Punch on a gorgeous Saturday last June, where we sat outside on the patio and devoured exquisitely-prepared pizzas with buffalo mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes. If you're in the cities and haven't been, GO. It's a bit pricey as far as pizzas go (maybe $10-$12 for an average pizza, which will feed one hungry guy or provide a meal and a snack for a girl like me), but it's so worth it.

Anyway, we decided after our experience there that we really wanted to try our hand at making our own pizza like that. We'd made pizza before--both regular crust and deep dish--but this would be new and exciting. We didn't have the advantages of san marino tomatoes, top-notch olive oil, imported mozzarella, and a wood-burning pizza oven kept at 800°F, but we did our best, beginning with the crust.

Ingredients (for two pizzas)
  • 1 1/3 c. wrist-temperature water
  • 2 1/4 tsp. yeast (or 1 package, if you buy it that way).
  • 3 1/2-3/4 cups flour (can use part whole wheat, I'd imagine, although we kept it all white this time)
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TBS salt
  • about 1 1/2 TBS sugar
  • a sprinkling of corn meal
  • Toppings! (all suggestions-- amounts and ingredients are totally open, so make it as you like)
    • a few handfuls of canned diced tomatoes (fresh, soaked in a little olive oil and salt, would work great too-- we just happened to have the canned stuff)
    • a solid handful of basil, ripped or chopped into little pieces.
    • lots of shredded mozzarella. We didn't use the fresh stuff, but if you have it all the more power to you
    • several TBS of pesto
    • a sprinkling of coarse salt--kosher, sea, rock, etc.
    • a few handfuls of sauteed mushrooms
    • a handful of chopped sun-dried tomatoes
    • a clove or two of fresh garlic, minced
    • Generous drizzlings of olive oil

Part One: The Crust
  • In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast into the water and wait 5 minutes or so until it bubbles. If it doesn't bubble, make sure it smells like yeast before you keep going. If it doesn't, it might be dead yeast. Start over.
  • Add the flour, olive oil, sugar, and salt and mix slowly for a bit.
  • Turn onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is stretchy and smooth. Rub some olive oil into the bowl where you mixed the dough and dump the dough back in, flipping it around so it gets nicely coated with the oil. Cover the dough and let it rise until it doubles in bulk. It'll take an hour or two.
  • Punch down the dough and divide it into two balls. Let them rest for 10-15 minutes. Then roll them out. You want them pretty thin-- see how much of the cookie pan the dough takes up and try to do something similar. The ridge on the thin-crust shouldn't be as pronounced as that found on most regular crusts.
  • Note: Don't roll out both crusts at the same time unless you're baking them together. Just leave the other half in its ball until needed. Before you transfer the crust to the sheet, sprinkle it with corn meal or flour.

Part Two: The Topping

We started by tossing the salt and garlic over the crust, then followed with little spoonfuls of pesto, the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and basil. The cheese coated all of that, and we drizzled olive oil on top.

Part Three: Baking

So this is the bit that separates this pizza from its thicker-crusted counterparts. You want the oven as hot as it'll go. For us, that was 450 or 500°F. If yours gets any hotter, great. Also, if you have a pizza stone, great-- although I suppose you'd need to either have a large pizza stone or make smaller pizzas to get a crust thin enough.

Bake for about 8 minutes. The crust should get really crispy and everything should bubble. If it gets a little brown that's even better. It won't be as good as the stuff made in a proper oven, but for us it worked well. Also, your oven could be quite different from ours, so just watch it and see if it needs more or less time. Serve quickly, because it's awesome hot, but don't burn the roof of your mouth!

No comments:

Post a Comment