Introduction: Homemade Pizza
I'm not from New York, nor do I claim to be, but I love pizza. My New York friend is always telling me that she can't get good New York style pizza in northern California, so I set out to try and make some New York Style Thin Crust Pizza.
If you love to make your own pizza then definitely check out PizzaMaker.com This site is full of great information to make all kinds of pizza.
This method will take 2 days. You can cheat and make pizza in one day, but with varied results.
Remember, good things come to those who wait.
Step 1: Materials
Mixer (Kitchen Aid)
Pizza peel (optional but helpful)
Pizza cutter or a long knife
A pizza stone isn't absolutely necessary but it really makes for a great crust. There are a lot of metal pizza pans out there but I've never tried one.
A pizza peel is the large spatula looking thing to take out the pizza from the oven.
Step 2: The Dough Formula
PizzaMaker.com has a great Pizza Dough Calculator
After reading the pizza forums a while I decided to use these stats for my dough.
1 dough ball for a 12 inch pizza with 0.1 thickness
Wheat gluten 3.3% - 1T =7.5 oz
Instant yeast 0.25%
One thing I learned is that you need a high gluten flour for a good crust. I couldn't find any so I add vital wheat gluten to the dough. I thought it would be hard to find wheat gluten, but I found it in my grocery store. Health food stores will carry it too.
Also, instant dry yeast is recommended because it doesn't need to be started like active dry yeast. It can go straight into the dough. You can use active dry yeast but you may have to dissolve it in warm water first to get it going.
I had a hard time finding instant dry yeast but I finally found it at Smart and Final. One pound for $2. I have a ton of it, enough for 1000 pizzas. If your in my neighborhood, I'd be more than happy to share some.
Step 3: Making the Dough
I converted the percentages as well as I could, some amounts are pretty small.
1-3/4 Cups plus 1/2 T All Purpose Flour
1 T Vital Wheat Gluten
1 tsp salt
0.18 tsp instant yeast, a little less than 1/4 tsp - 1/4 tsp active dry yeast can substituted*
1/2 Cup plus 1/8 C water
1/2 tsp olive oil
T = tablespoon
tsp = teaspoon
Combine the dry ingredients into a mixer bowl*. Mix well. Slowly add the water and mix until the dough forms. If you have a dough hook on your mixer, great. You could probably make this dough in a bread machine but I have never tried.
Add olive oil and continue to mix. If after 5 minutes of mixing the dough hasn't come together, add a few drops of water at a time until the dough forms. Use extra water sparingly.
Knead the dough in the mixer until its soft and smooth at a medium speed, about 10 minutes. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle a little flour in. The dough should feel moist and slightly tacky but not sticky.
*If you are using active dry yeast, I would hydrate it in 1/2 cup of the water heated to 110-115 deg. Let it sit and dissolve and maybe froth up a bit. Then add at the same time as the water. Your yeast should come with instructions.
Step 4: Cold Fermentation
Your dough is now ready for the refrigerator. Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl. I use Pam spray but any vegetable oil should be fine. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for 12-24 hours. This is called cold fermentation. This slow fermentation allows the dough to develop better flavor.
I have read that you can proof it at 80-85F for 2 hours if you want to make pizza right away. I've never done it but people have said the longer cold proof makes for a much better crust.
Step 5: Prepare the Dough
In 12-24 hours your dough will be ready to:
A. Go in the freezer.
I often will make a large batch of dough and freeze some of it for later. This dough will freeze well. I double zip lock it and put it straight into the freezer.
B. Make a pizza.
Allow your dough to come to room temp for an hour or two. The dough will stretch better if it is warm.
If you are starting from frozen dough, put the dough into a lightly greased bowl the night before and let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Pull it out of the fridge a couple hour before you use it.
Step 6: Preheat Your Oven
Before you start making your pizza, preheat your oven to as hot as it will go. Most household ovens go up to 500-550F. If you have a pizza oven, I'm extremely jealous.
Put your pizza stone in the oven as well, you'll want it hot. I use the lowest oven rack or 1 above that. This depends on your oven though. My oven is small and the cheese burns if the pizza is too high.
Step 7: Pizza Setup
Once your dough has come to room temp and risen a bit, you are ready.
Prepare the area you are making the pizza. Have a well floured area ready.
Have your toppings ready to go.
3/4 - 1 cup tomato sauce, warmed in the microwave
1/2 - 1 cup mozzarella cheese
Any toppings you may have
I make my own sauce from the garden. I don't really have a recipe, but you can use any sauce you want. Heat your sauce in the microwave to warm it up.
I have found that, since I don't have an 800 degree pizza oven, if I make the pizza on the hot pizza stone it gives the crust a head start.
When you are ready, pull out your HOT pizza stone. Use oven mitts and put it on something that won't burn.
I'm only making cheese pizza but you can add anything else you want. Don't fill it up too much because it is a very thin pizza.
Step 8: Make Your Crust
Prepare the crust.
Start with a very well floured area. Flour your hands up as well. The dough will be very soft and airy. Pull the dough out of the bowl and put it in the flour. Do not knead the dough. Start to form a circle. The dough will be very stretchy. Use two fists to move the dough and stretch it into a circle.
I find it hard to keep the dough circular since it is so soft and stretchy, and no, I can't flip it over my head yet.
It doesn't take long to stretch your dough into a large circle. Place it on the hot pizza stone and adjust it to fit.
***BE CAREFUL. THE STONE IS VERY HOT***
Do this fast because the dough will start to cook immediately. You can put a little flour on the stone before hand to keep the dough from sticking.
Step 9: Add Your Toppings
Add the sauce and spread it around the dough evenly with the back of a large spoon.
Add the cheese and any other toppings you have.
Step 10: Bake Your Pizza
It's time to bake your pizza. Put the stone back in the oven. It should take about ten minutes. The cheese will start to bubble. It will be fine as long as it doesn't start to burn. If it burns too quickly try a lower rack next time.
Keep an eye on the crust. When it gets brown, its ready to take out. You can also take a peek under the pizza to see how the bottom looks. All ovens are different, so you can play around with cooking times.
Take your pizza out of the oven with the pizza peel. If you don't have one, you can usually slide the pizza out if the crust isn't too soft. I like my crust to be crispy on the bottom.
Let the pizza cool.
Remember: Hot cheese + Roof of mouth = Ouch
Step 11: Enjoy Your Pie
Slice your pizza up and enjoy.
This is how I make thin crust pizza. I'm not claiming it to be better than New York pizza, this is just my version. Play around with the dough calculator, try some variations, thicker crust, different topping, etc...
Just have fun and enjoy your pie.