Once a week I make pizza. Tonight was that night. It took me years to find a good crust recipe and it took me a while to find the right type of pan to cook that pizza on. I know people that swear backwards, forwards, and sideways that you can only cook a great pizza on a pizza stone. Let’s just say my experience with a pizza stone was clearly not the same as their experiences with them. Even with a perfectly preheated stone, the dough in the center was never cooked fully through before the outsides burned. I just couldn’t see what the raves were about.
When I finally found the perfect pan for me, I was over the moon. We prefer a thin crust pizza and we like it nice and crispy, so when I came across something called a pizza crisper pan I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try it. A cripser looks like an ordinary pizza pan, only with holes in it. They let the air circulate up under the crust and it cooks up perfectly. I’ve not had a dud pizza in the last four years I have been using one.
I think it also helps that we have a double gas oven, the type with a full size oven on bottom and then a small oven on the top. That top oven is perfect for keeping the heat in the right places. I’ve had good pizzas come out of an electric oven, and even out of the larger gas oven, but the best have come out of the smaller gas one.
Here’s my recipe:
1 TBSP active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1 TBSP oil (I use a basil infused olive oil)
1 TSP sea salt
2 and 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
I make this in my bread machine on the dough cycle, but it can also be made in a stand mixer with a dough hook or if you are particularly so inclined, by hand. If by hand knead for five minutes. Let rise for at least 1 1/2 hours.
This makes one thin 16 inch pizza, or two thin 12 inch pizzas, 1 thick twelve inch pizza, or 4 calzones.
When dough is ready, preheat oven to 425. Coat dough and your hands with a thin layer of olive oil. Press dough out on pizza pan.
On the 16 inch pizza I use half a can of tomato sauce (about a cup) and sprinkle on Italian seasoning (or if I don’t have it, basil, oregano, thyme and marjoram. Or if I have leftover homemade spaghetti sauce I’ll use that. I use a pound of shredded mozzarella (but you could use less, we just like extra cheese) and then top with whatever toppings I have on hand, usually ground beef, ham, sausage, or pepperoni, and then onions and peppers.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes depending on your oven. I check for doneness by lifting with a flipper and thumping the bottom center with a spoon. If it makes a solid thump it is done. If it is a dull thud it needs a bit more time. Mine is always done at the 20 minute mark. This pizza is hearty and filling and easily fills up my two teenagers, my husband, and myself.