Saturday, June 25, 2011

Simple Crust

We know that nothing quite compares to our very best pizza crust ever recipe, but ML was interested in trying out a simpler, egg- and dairy-free recipe. He is the resident pizza crust expert after all, responsible for all of the kneading and stretching and rolling out into a nearly circular shape. He has good dough instincts. This simple New York-style crust has a denser, dryer texture than our original recipe — less like bread, more like a cracker. We always make it with part whole wheat flour, which may contribute to the denseness, but also makes it healthier.

The bread/cracker distinction would be a helpful guideline in deciding which crust to use for which toppings. If you would prefer to eat the toppings in question on a slice of bread, then go with the very best pizza crust ever recipe, but if you'd just as soon pile the toppings on a cracker, this is the recipe for you. Vegans, of course, will want to use this recipe, as would anyone with egg or dairy allergies. I suspect it could even be adapted for a gluten-free diet without too much finagling.

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 1/4 cups cold water
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups whole wheat bread flour
  • 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups regular bread flour, plus more for dusting

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in lukewarm water. Let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes. 
  2. In another small bowl, combine cold water, 1 teaspoon sugar, salt and olive oil to dissolve the sugar and salt.
  3. Mix together the two types of flour in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast and cold water mixture, mixing to incorporate as much of the flour as possible.
  4. Knead the dough for 10 to 12 minutes on a lightly floured surface, until soft and elastic. 
  5. Place dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise in a warm location. Let rise until the dough has doubled in volume, about one hour. 
  6. Punch down dough. Separate it in thirds and reshape into balls. Cover again with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. 
  7. During the second rising, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. If using a pizza stone, place the stone in the oven for preheating. If using a baking sheet, lightly flour it (but don’t preheat). 
  8. On a well-floured surface, roll out one ball of dough until it is approximately the size of your pizza stone or baking sheet. 
  9. Prick the surface all over with a fork to prevent bubbling in the oven.
  10. Par-bake the crust until barely brown and rigid, about 3 minutes.
  11. Remove the crust from the oven and let rest on wire racks to avoid sogginess. Top with your favorite toppings and return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minute (depending on toppings), until the cheese is melted and the edges are golden brown.
Recipe yields three crusts. Dough can be made in advance (through step 6) and refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to a month.

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