Perfect Thick Pizza Crust

posted Jun 8, 2009, 9:28 PM by David Eagle   [ updated Oct 9, 2010, 5:00 AM ]
We eat pizza in our house weekly, usually topped with tomato sauce, good organic canned pineapple, smoked ham and unaged provolone cheese. This crust is also great with Kentucky Bourbon BBQ Sauce, pineapple, BBQ chicken and Fontal cheese. I've experimented with all kinds of dough, from stiff to runny and have settled on this focaccia-like dough. This is a far cry from the dry crusts that I used to roll out with a rolling pin. If you haven't experimented with very soft breads (ciabatta, pugilese, focaccia, etc.), don't give into the temptation to add more flour to this recipe. It will make wonderful pizza. Trust me!
 
Makes 1 - 17" x 11" square pizza shell

Ingredients
  • 300g flour, unbleached all purpose
  • 150g flour, whole wheat
  • 400g water
  • 12 g salt
  • 1 tsp dry active yeast
Method
Add flours and salt to mixer bowl, stir to combine. Add yeast and water. Using the paddle attachment on a kitchen aid mixer, mix ingredients on stir for 1 minute. The dough will be very soupy. Raise speed to #6 and beat for 5 minutes, lower to #4 for 10 minutes. Dough should come away from the edges of the bowl and stretch extensively. Oil a large bowl or rising container and transfer dough (best by simply pouring it) from the mixer bowl.

Cover with a tight fitting plate or cover and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled, approximately 2.5 hours-4 (highly dependent on ambient temperature).

30 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 500F with a baking stone or an inverted cookie sheet position on the middle rack. Line a standard (around 17 x 11 inch) baking sheet with parchment paper. This can be done free form, without a sheet, by placing the parchment on the counter and using a peel to transfer to the oven.  Oil the parchment and edges of the sheet with olive oil. Oil your hands. Pour the dough from the bowl onto the cookie sheet and aggressively stretch the dough to the edges of the pan or into desired shape (if you're doing it free form). If you cannot get it into the shape you want, cover it and allow it to rest 10 minutes and try again. The dough will relax with the rest and become easier to handle. This process is more art than science and takes some practice.

Place in 500F oven, close the oven door and set temperature to 475F. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven to a rack. Run a knife along the edges of the dough to loosen and invert onto a wire rack, remove the parchment paper. Invert.

If you have a peel, top with desire toppings; otherwise place back on the cookie sheet and top. Transfer to 475F oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is just starting to brown all over.  Remove, cut and serve immediately. Pizza is also good cold the next day, stored in an air tight container.

Alternate Method
Add 200g blueberries and 1 tsp sugar to a saucepan. Simmer gently over medium low heat for 5 minutes until thick. Proceed as directed above, folding in 200g of blueberries. Using an ice cream scoop portion batter into lined muffin pan. Spoon 1 tsp of mixture on top of muffins. Swirl jam with a chop stick. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon. Bake as above.

Photos - click for higher resolution images

 
  1. Before adding water
 
 2. Start of stirring
 
 
3. After 15 minutes on #6
 
4. Note the stretch
 
  5. After 2.5 hours
 
  6. On the prepared pan
 
 7. Stretched
 
  8. Baked and ready to top


Nutrition Facts (shell only, no toppings)

 Serving Size
 1 shell, 864g (raw)
 Calories  1601
 Calories from Fat
     48
 Total Fat
 6 g
     Saturated      1 g
 Total Carbohydrates
 338 g
     Dietary Fiber      26 g
     Sugars      1 g
 Protein  52 g
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