It seems that everyone has a relationship with the cult classic pizza. Whether you like it thick, thin, extra cheesy or full of veggies everyone has their preference. Our resident Chef Choi came up with a date night worthy pizza recipe that is sure to delight you and your boo. Here’s what he has to say about this american institution.
I love pizza. I could probably eat pizza for the rest of my life and never get tired of it since you can make anything into a pizza. Have you ever had a taco pizza? How about a Big Mac pizza? If not, then you are missing out on a slice of hand-held, cheesy pleasure. But fear not, here is a relatively easy pizza dough recipe that will give you a great foundation to make any kind of pizza you can imagine. The possibilities are infinite and the world is your oyster, as long as you make into an oyster pizza.
Thin Crust Pizza Dough
- 2.2lbs Bread Flour*
- 2 oz corn meal
- 1 Tbs salt
- ½ Tbs sugar
- 1 Tbs dry fast acting yeast
- 20oz (2.5c) warm water
- 2 Tbs Extra virgin olive oil
The first step you want to do is in a separate smaller bowl, gently mix the yeast with the warm water. Let it sit until it gets a little bit frothy. While the yeast is activating, sift the flour into a bowl into a large mixing bowl. Next, add the cornmeal, salt, and sugar and mix until everything is evenly dispersed. Add the yeast/water mixture and the oil to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined and there’s no more dry ingredients.
Ok, now here is an interesting step. You want to let the dough just sit for 15 to 20 minutes. This step is called autolyzing. From what my baker friends tell me, this is an important step for any and all bread making that is often overlooked because it can sometimes feel like a wives tale type of technique. The process of autolyzing allows the water to hydrate the flour before it is kneaded. This process typically will yield a chewier texture because when the flour is hydrated, the gluten is hydrated and helps it become more elastic. Think of gluten as a tangled up phone cord and the act of kneading dough helps untangle the mess. The untangling process is easier if the strands are soft and hydrated instead of dry and brittle.
Ok, science lesson over. Once the dough has had a chance to just autolyze, knead it into a smooth ball either by running it in a stand mixer for 5-8 minutes (or until it cleanly pulls from the side of the bowl) or lightly flour a clean table and work the dough until it springs back. Next, place the dough into a large bowl and cover it with a damp kitchen towel. Place the dough in a warm place and allow it to rise for about 30 minutes or until it almost doubles in size.**
Now your dough is ready to be rolled or stretched out. Place your sauces and toppings and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the bottom of the pizza is a nice light to golden brown.
*If you don’t have bread flour, All Purpose flour will work just fine. The difference between bread flour and AP flour is the protein content. Bread flour has about 12-14% whereas AP has about 8-11%. The more protein the flour has means there’s more gluten, which ultimately means you get a chewier texture.
**If you’re in a pinch, or it’s winter, or you don’t have a warm ideal place to proof dough, here’s a handy trick I will sometimes do. I turn on my oven to the lowest temperature, which is typically 180-200 F, and once it’s pre-heated, I turn it off and open the oven door just slightly. Wait a couple minutes for some of the heat to leave and then place your bowl, with the dough and damp kitchen towel, into the warm oven. The key to this cheat technique is that you have to really keep an eye on the dough so that you don’t over proof it. An over proofed dough won’t rise while its baking because you killed the yeast, so be cautious and attentive when doing this.
So this is a very basic pizza sauce. So basic that it might be unbelievably simple, but I’ll explain why this is the kind of pizza sauce I typically will use.
- 1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes. (canned San Marzano tomatoes if possible)*
- 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- big pinch of salt
Drain the liquid out of the canned tomatoes. Take the solids and place them in a blender with the olive oil and add the salt. Blend until smooth. That’s it.
I’ve seen and worked in two different Italian restaurants that did this as their recipe for pizza sauce. Now, this is no marinara sauce, which involves a handful of more ingredients and a longer cooking time, but for the application of pizza this will do just fine. The sauce will cook with the pizza dough because it will be spread out into a thin layer, which increases the surface area for the heat to evaporate more of the residual water that is left in the tomatoes. Less water means more flavor. With this basic recipe, you can add anything you may have in your spice cabinet to give it a little extra flair. Try adding fresh basil, thyme, and oregano or some paprika and cumin. Like the pizza dough, you can make this sauce your own.
*the handful of Italian chefs I’ve talk to will say that fresh tomatoes are nicer, but canned tomatoes are consistent in quality and taste. Canned San Marzano tomatoes are always top choice for me because they have a sort of earthy flavor to them.
If you liked this recipe we’d love to hear about it and see what you create!