Hankering after a slice of thin-crust pizza?
Pizza that's neither from the supermarket freezer case, nor the local pizzeria?
Pizza that's ready in less than 30 minutes, from the time you get that irresistible pizza urge till there's a hot slice on a plate in front of you, smelling deliciously of melted cheese and tomato sauce and [insert your favorite toppings]?
It's Jeff and Zoë to the rescue - again!
Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François have taken the baking world by storm with their "Five Minutes a Day" books, including their original Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day; the follow-up Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and their latest: Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day.
You know, if you haven't yet tried this no-knead thing – what are you waiting for? I'm a veteran bread baker, having started with Beard on Bread and Tassajara over 30 years ago. And I realize no-knead bread isn't a new concept; heck, remember that recipe for cottage cheese-dill batter bread that made the rounds back in the '70s?
But Jeff and Zoë – building, perhaps, on The New York Times' Mark Bittman/Jim Lahey no-knead bread trend of several years ago – have made no-knead yeast creations of all kinds accessible to anyone with a bowl, a spoon, a fridge, and an oven.
No special skills needed; no fancy equipment; no hard-to-find ingredients.
Just grab your bag of King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, water, salt, and yeast, and you can make pizza dough, store it in the fridge, and enjoy spectacularly good pizza tonight, tomorrow, and right on through the weekend.
Ready? Let's do it.
Put the following in a mixing bowl:
3 cups + 3 tablespoons (25 1/2 ounces) lukewarm water
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon instant yeast or active dry yeast
1 heaping tablespoon regular table salt or 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
9 cups (38 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
If you compare this recipe to Jeff and Zoë's master recipe in the book, you'll notice a few slight differences.
Most important, they call for 7 1/2 cups of flour, while this recipe calls for 9 cups. This is strictly a volume measurement variation; you want to use 38 ounces of flour, so whether you "scoop and sweep" (as the authors do) or "sprinkle and sweep" (as we do here at King Arthur), use 38 ounces of flour.
In addition, they call for kosher salt; I use table salt, just because it's what I have on hand. And they call for dissolving the salt and yeast in the water before adding the flour; lazy baker that I am, I just dump everything in at once.
Mix until everything is moistened; that's it. No need to knead.
Let the dough rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, loosely covered; it should puff up nicely. If you pull it away from the edge of the bowl, you'll see some nice gluten development.
Then, refrigerate the dough, covered, for at least 3 hours – or for up to 7 days. The longer it stays in the fridge, the richer the flavor will be, as yeast continues to eat and give off organic acids and alcohol, both flavor enhancers.
When you're ready to bake, start preheating your oven to 450°F. Jeff and Zoë call for preheating to "your oven's highest temperature;" I found that 450°F was ideal for my oven.
If you plan on using a pizza stone, place it on a lower rack to preheat along with the oven.
Pull a softball-sized piece of dough off the dough in the bowl - about 8 ounces.
Place it on a piece of greased parchment, with another piece of greased parchment on top. Roll into a 12" round, peel off the top piece of parchment, and flop it onto a lightly greased 12" round pizza pan. Peel off the other piece of parchment.
Notice how the crust shrinks on the pan; that's the gluten trying to revert to its unstretched, normal self.
I found that leaving the rolled dough sandwiched in the parchment (where it can't shrink) for 30 minutes or so keeps it from shrinking on the pan.
Still, if you don't want to fight with the dough, just let it shrink to whatever size it likes.
If you plan to bake on a stone, leave the dough right on the parchment; it can go into the oven with the pizza, and won't affect browning.
Now, if you're feeling really adventurous, you can skip rolling the dough, and toss and twirl it in the air to shape it instead. Check out Jeff in this video – complete with operatic accompaniment!
Now, the thing with thin-crust pizza is, you don't want to overload it with lots of heavy, wet toppings. I find that brushing the dough with sauce makes a nice, thin layer.
Add any other toppings you like; I used a mandoline to slice Roma tomatoes and red onions, then topped with a bagged 3-cheese pizza blend.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or so (depending on oven temperature), or until the pizza's as done as you like.
Remove from the oven, and transfer to a rack so the bottom doesn't steam.
Now, here's what the bottom crust may look like if you bake on a pan. If that's too brown for you...
...simply nest your pan inside another, to provide an insulating double layer of metal between crust and oven heat.
So, 4 days later, and after making several 12" pizzas, I still had dough left. Shaped it into a Sicilian-style, thick crust pizza on a baking sheet; topped half with my husband's fave (anchovies), half with my son's (pineapple & ham). Baked for about 30 minutes at 450°F, double-panned so the bottom wouldn't brown too much.
Awesome - chewy, crunchy crust, full of big holes, and perfectly cooked toppings.
Jeff and Zoë, I tip my (chef's) hat to you - great recipes, tips, and techniques. Your book is a definite keeper.
Looking for this recipe on our site? It's not there; it's in Jeff and Zoë's book.