While I was on vacation in Italy, I ate an entire pizza by myself. No joke, and normally I’m a two slice only kinda girl because after that I’m desperately looking for my stretchy pants. Most pizzas that my husband and I typically order around here have a thick crust and you get more dough than toppings. Then the pizza expands in your stomach and you are moaning in your gluttony. However, irresistible and nom-worthy Italian pizzas might make you re-think about limiting your intake.
The secret to eating an entire pizza is…the thin-crust or an empty stomach. Just kidding. Thin-crust pizza has this perfect, crispy texture and it really allows you to savor the toppings of the pizza versus the feeling of eating overstuffed toppings with the bread. If you are a lover of thin-crust pizza like myself, you need to make this recipe.
This recipe is the closest to an Italian wood-fire pizza that I can enjoy at home. The dough is easy to prepare and comes together in the food processor, no kneading really required. Tip: I did purchase a pizza stone, but you don’t need one if you don’t want to spend the money on one. You can buy a unglazed quarry tile from Home Depot – it will cost less than $2. It’s the cheaper alternative for a fancy pizza stone. The pizza stone or tile is needed because it locks in the heat while the pizza cooks in the oven.
Since I’m still daydreaming about Italy, I have two favorite types that I highly suggest that you try out – Caprese and Quattro Formaggi. Thin-crust pizzas don’t require too many toppings, just spread out a little bit of pizza sauce and a handful of cheeses. Don’t forget the bottle of wine to enjoy with your pizza, too.
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated Jan/Feb 2011
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra
1 ⅓ cups (10 ½ ounces) ice water
½ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
3 cups (16 ½ ounces) bread flour, plus extra
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Quatto Formaggi - Fresh mozzarella, sliced; Italian Fontina cheese, Scarmorza cheese, & blue cheese
Caprese - Sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil
At least 24 Hours before prepare the dough: In a food processor, process the flour, sugar, and yeast until combined. With the machine running, slowly add ice water through the feed tube, process until the dough is combined and no dry flour remains. Let dough stand for 10 minutes.
Add oil and salt and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball - about 30 to 60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl, knead briefly on lightly oiled work area until smooth, about 1 minute.
Transfer to a lightly oiled container, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use.
One hour before baking the pizza, adjust the oven rack to the second highest position and place a baking stone on the rack to preheat. Preheat the oven to 500˚ degrees.
Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator and divide in half. Form each half into a ball and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, with at least 3 to 5 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with cooking spray and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
Coat 1 ball of dough generously with flour, and place on a well-floured countertop. Using fingertips, gently flatten into 8-inch disk or toss it up in the air and give it a couple whirls like the pizzeria’s. Leave 1 inch of the outer edge thicker, and gently stretch into 12-inch round if possible. Lay out parchment paper and spread a handful of cornmeal on the paper and place the dough on the paper.
Spread ½ cup tomato sauce over pizza, add a couple handfuls of cheese, garnish with a little bit of kosher salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Carefully lift the parchment paper with pizza on-top and place carefully onto stone and bake until the crust is well-browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pizza and place on wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Repeat step to bake pizza, top and bake second pizza.
Review: It’s like having a taste of Italy at home…soooo perfect. It’s crisp in texture, and depending on your toppings – it melts in your mouth like butter. Seriously, this recipe definitely hit my Italian sweet spot and brought me back to to my favorite Italian pizzerias.