Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Thin Crust Pizza, No Proofing Required

The most iconic Italian food is pizza.

But it doesn’t necessarily come from Italy. If you have the time to read about pizza’s origin, you will be presented by a massive amount of stories that consist of dates and names which go back as far as 990 AD. Babylonians, Israelites, Egyptians, Armenians, Greeks, and Romans, and other ancient cultures ate flat, unleavened bread cooked in hearth or mud ovens. Almost every culture has its own version of flat bread. But Italy's version of the dish, especially from Naples, is the one we are familiar with and widely known later as pizza.  Although back in 16th century its name was not pizza and it was commonly known as the dish for poor people. It was sold in the street and was not considered a kitchen recipe.

A fun fact about pizza; In 1843, Alexandre Dumas described the diversity of pizza toppings in Le Corricolo. There is a chapter about his impressions on Naples. You can read it at www.dumaspere.com. Wow, to think that the writer of The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers actually walked around the market and tasted the flat bread that we also love to eat nowadays is pretty amazing.

Anyway, just as Alexandre Dumas described, there are many toppings, there are many sizes, and there are many ingredients people use to make a pizza. It hasn’t changed much for centuries. I have had my share of pizza baking and have tried so many variation of crust from thick to thin and from sourdough to no knead. They are all delicious and I say it is impossible for someone just to have a single preference of crust. There is no “I’m a thick crust pizza person” or “I’m a thin crust pizza person”.  That statement is not legit. Because once you take side and one day you’re served with a pizza so good and it’s not on your spectrum of crust, you’d be questioning your believe.

Thick or thin, as long as you use good quality ingredients, you follow the recipe well, your oven is hot, then your pizza will be delicious.

One thing in common in most pizza is that it requires proofing time in the making even in the thin crust pizza. But what if you’re so hungry and you’re craving for pizza as in —I have to eat some goddamn pizza or I’m gonna punch somebody in the face—kind of craving? The solution is to make the no proofing required pizza. If you have a favorite fancy pizzeria that serves really, I mean really, thin pizza which flaunts the minimalist yet delicious toppings, then it is time to stop paying for their pizza and make it by yourself.

Here’s how...

Adapted from fearlesshomemaker.com
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour*
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp dried herbs of your choice
1 clove of garlic, very finely minced
1 cup of warm almost hot water**
*You can substitute it with all purpose flour but use only 3/4 cup of water
**Test the water by submerging your finger in the cup. It has to be hot but not too hot you can't put your finger in.

Whatever you want.
Of course the basic ones you ought to have is the marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and olive oil.

Put your baking stone on the oven floor. If you don't have a baking stone then just skip this step. Turn your oven on, crank it up to 250C. If your oven can't go that high, 240C is okay, just add the baking time.

-Mix all the dry ingredients, add the water, and knead until it is supple and smooth. Not sticky. 
-Divide into two balls. 
-Get one ball. Using a rolling pin, roll it until thin. 
-Get your pizza peel, put a baking sheet or parchment paper on it, then transfer your rolled dough on it. If you are not using a baking stone, just place a baking sheet or a parchment paper on a baking tray.
-To get your dough as thin as possible, after you roll it, pick it up and stretch it with your hands. Let the gravity and the weight of the dough help you. Just don't do it if you have long nails. The nails will poke holes on the flimsy dough.

Spread only the sauce. 1/4 cup of sauce is enough for one pizza. Trust me, a little goes a long way. A soggy thin crust pizza is not appealing on the palate and on the eyes.

-Bake it for 4-5 minutes 
-Take it out, put the cheese and other toppings on, drizzle with olive oil.
-Bake again for 2-3 minutes
-If you can wait, let it cool on the wire rack for 2-3 minutes before cutting it

Here's the picture of the bottom of the pizza, perfectly charred in some spots ensuring you that it is crispy yet still pliable in case you choose to fold it.

Hubba hubba..

The beauty of thin crust pizza is that the crust lets the topping shines, no matter how simple it is, yet still shines on its own.

Oh the cheeesse..

This pizza will feed 3 polite people or two hungry people. 

Or one savage known as a husband. 

So, remember that we still have one ball of dough left? You can bake it right after you bake the first pizza or you can keep it refrigerated in a container. It will keep well for around 3-4 days. That means when the hunger strikes, you'll have no need to knead and you can have delicious pizza in less than 30 minutes. How convenient is that?

That's the one I baked with two days old dough. Taste even better. I had some blanched broccoli in the ziplock bag so off they go as the topping. If you use your cold half cooked veggies for your pizza topping, just toss them on the tomato sauce that you spread on the dough. You definitely do not want hot pizza together with icy cold veggies. After that, proceed in the same fashion.

Happy pizza baking,
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  1. no use of dry yeast? at all? -meong

  2. Lol! My bad, I'll edit it right away :p