I was making pizza last night.
Usually I make Chicago style deep-dish pizza, but last night I decided to make thin-crust New York style. It came out excellent, my crust recipe can be varied for either style crust, but it got me wondering. I know some of us have discussed over on the 'e' what toppings we like on pizza, but the question is which style do you prefer? New York or Chicago style?
Me? I like both.
Basic pizza bread is a yeast dough, composed of water, yeast, flour, oil, sugar, and salt. The results depend on a large number of factors. Here's my basic recipe:
I use a Kitchen-Aid mixer, and I recommend you use a power mixer as well. Proper consistency depends on gluten development, and that takes some serious mixing.
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp of baker's yeast (I like Red Star)
1 tbsp raw sugar (white sugar works too, but you'll get better results with the raw stuff).
1 tsp of kosher salt (iodized salt will work, but it contains additional additives that may effect yeast rise and flavor)
In the mixer bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt in the water. Sprinkle the yeast over the top. Wait for the yeast to bloom, 5-10 minutes This is called proofing, and many cooks do not consider proofing necessary for modern dry yeasts. They're nuts. Yeast gets old, if it is no longer active, best you find out when the only thing you've lost is a cup of water and some sugar. Also, waiting for the yeast to bloom into a sludgy mass, gives you time to prepare the toppings. If the yeast doesn't bloom, throw the mix out, get new yeast, start over.
Once your yeast proofs, using the paddle (not the bread hook) attachment, start the mixer on low and add the following:
2 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin, of course, the greener the better)
1/4 cup potato flour (specialty/organic food isle)
1 cup GP flour (King Arthur, red winter wheat if you can get it)
At this point I like to add a few spices
2-3 tbsps Italian seasoning
2 tbsp basil (fresh chopped or dry, doesn't matter) and 1 tbsp Oregano
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp dried onion, chopped
(don't add garlic, powdered or otherwise, garlic inhibits yeast growth)
Mix on medium for 5-10 minutes, adding another 1/4 cup of flour along the way. Couple of things here: first the potato flour. Potato flour pulls moisture from the dough, giving it a crunchier outer texture and lighter interior. It's not strictly necessary, but you'll get much better results with much less effort if you use it. Potato flour is the difference between pizza dough and flat bread, just saying. Second, the long mix time at high speed. The secret to good pizza dough is gluten development, and lot's of it. You'll notice that over the 5-10 minute mix period your dough goes from a thin soup to a stringy, sticky mass. That's because beating the hell out of it in this manner activates the glutens in the flour (basically long protein chains) and pulls them into alignment. Now, some experienced cook out there is going to be appalled, he'll tell you that I'm over mixing the flour and that's going to result in tough, tough bread. Bah, ever had a good pizza in a fancy restaurant? Right, they don't know what they're talking about when it comes to simple pizza.
Once your dough becomes a stringy mass that sticks to the sides of the bowl and the beater, you're there. Stop the mixer, replace the paddle with the bread hook. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the paddle, and pull the dough into a sticky ball at the bottom of the bowl. Start the mixer on low.
New York Style: slowly add another 1/2 cup of flour
Chicago Style: slowly add another 1 cup of flour
Let the bread hook knead the dough for about 5 minutes or so.
NYS will be extremely sticky, CS will be have a more bread dough like consistency.
I use a rising bowl, basically a huge heavy ceramic bowl. I fill it with hot water for about ten minutes to warm it, then dump it out and dry it. You can use a big mixing bowl or something similar. I do the rise inside my oven. Pre-heating it to 150F for about 2 minutes, then turning it off. Just enough to warm the oven space.
Spray the inside of the bowl with non-stick spray and add a tsp of olive oil. Coat your hands with non-stick too, while you're at it. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl with your hands, and pull it into a tight boul (a round shape, keep folding the dough inwards until it forms a tight round mass). Set it in the rising bowl, turn once to coat with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap (not a wet towel) and place in the a warm spot (in my case, the oven).
For NYS thin crust, allow to rise for 30-45 minutes, no more. Roll out on a corn meal covered peel, or hand toss, and put it on your pizza pan. Cover with a non-stick sprayed piece of plastic wrap (doesn't have to be air tight) and let rise again for 30 minutes, top, and put into a 400F oven. Cooking time varies depending on a bunch of things, but when the crust is the color you like, you're done. Lighter color = chewy foldable crust. Darker color = brittle, cruchy crust. I like mine somewhere in the middle.
For CS deep dish, allow to rise for 1 hour. Turn out on a floured surface. Knead into a tight mass for about 1 minute, flatten in your non-stick sprayed deep dish pan and allow to rise covered for 30 minutes. Carefully spread the dough into the traditional deep dish shape and allow to rise for another 30 minute. Top. Bake at 400F. You'll need to carefully lift the edge with a spatula to check for proper color and doneness.
Pizza stones - I like em, just not for cooking directly on. I've got a large square one on bottom of my oven. It's always there, because it evens out the heating. I put my pizza in a pan, either a traditional blackened steel deep dish or a light Teflon, wiffle-ball thin crust pan. The pan goes on top of the stone. This transfers the blistering heat of the stone directly to the pizza crust without the mess and hassle of moving a stone into and out of the oven. All the benefits, none of the mess and hassle.
and there you go. Have fun.
Soggy crust. Don't like it.
Here's how to avoid it. When the pizza comes out of the oven. Allow to cool for 2 minutes. Then slide the whole pie out onto a wire rack and allow cool for another 2 minutes, this allows trapped moisture to escape. Then slide it onto the cutting board and slice. Any pieces that don't get plated immediately, put back on the rack and set on the pizza stone in the turned off oven, leave the door cracked, otherwise your pizza will be overcooked when you come back for the next slice.