Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pizza Night or the Search for the Perfect Crust

If you follow this blog at all you know we like to make pizza at home. It's a fun way to play with different flavor combinations or use up small amounts of things in the fridge. That has lead us to a search for the perfect crust for homemade pizza. I'm embarrassed to say when we first started making pizza at home we used the crust that came in a tube from the grocery store. It was quick & easy but nothing like real pizza crust, more like pizza toppings on bread. So, we started trying lots of different recipes we found around the web.
Pizza with Apricots, Red Pepper & Prosciutto
Our go-to crust for a long time as been this recipe from Wisebread. It was pretty easy to make though, you have to remember to get it rising 2 hours before dinner. We've found the recipe calls for way too much liquid & cut it down by a third. It's not very easy to work with when it came to making the pizza, very hard to spread out. It is an easy recipe to play with flavor-wise though, we've done a honey wheat version & a wheat bran version as well as adding different flavorings like roasted garlic. A good crust but almost too crispy (or some might say hard).
Sausage & Grape Pizza with Balsamic Reduction
Then we tried the Easy-At-Home Pizza Dough from Serious Eats. Talk about a basic dough, it doesn't even have olive oil in it. It needs to be made 3 - 24 hours before you plan on using it. We had to press it out very thin to get the size pizzas the recipe said it made. It got quite crispy & even stayed crisp with a good drizzle of balsamic on it. The texture was good, especially at the edge (my favorite part) but, it was boring on the flavor front.
Search for the Perfect Pizza Crust
This week we tried the New York Style Pizza also from Serious Eats. This recipe called for you to make the dough in a food processor 24 hours up to 5 days before using. Apparently, using a food processor keeps the dough from over-oxidizing which affects flavor. I did 2/3 of the recipe & I want to know how big a food processor the author had! I thought even this reduced amount was going to blow out the motor on mine. I ended up having to knead it a lot more than the 1 or 2 times the recipe called for (probably adding more of that evil oxygen). The end result though, was a dough that was a delight to work with once its time to make your pizza, so easy to get that thin crust we like. It cooked up a little more bread-like than cracker crisp still, it stood up fine to the toppings. It had a nice flavor which I think would only get better if we'd left it in the fridge for more than one day. Matt liked the way the crust had air pockets like a lot of the crust you get out. This my be the winning crust so far though I'll need a bigger food processor to make it again.

Maybe it's time to take what I've learned from all the crusts we've tried & create my own "perfect" crust recipe. Do you have a favorite pizza crust recipe? Share it with us in the comments & tell us why it's your favorite.

Pizza's pictured above Apricot, Red Pepper & Prosciutto on Wisebread Crust, Sausage & Grape on Easy-At-Home Crust and this week's Salami, Mushroom, Red Pepper & Smoked Mozzarella on New York Style Crust.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at OR at then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at katbaro AT yahoo DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted. © 2007-2011 Kathy Lewinski


Unknown said...

The one from The Bread Baker's Apprentice - is really good. It stopped my own search for the perfect crust.

Peter M said...

Kat, love me a good pizza and now I make it at home....mostly...cause I make it the way I like it. Yours is tops too!

LaDue & Crew said...

I was in search of the perfect one, until I found Peters! It's a quick and easy mix, and I substituted Agave nectar for the honey. Using the sea salt really makes a difference, I think! This makes 2 thin crust (or one thick).

vanillasugarblog said...

yeah everything in the fridge must go pizza night! lol we have that a lot around here too.

Squeaky said...

The recipe in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything is quite good.

Lo said...

We really love using our sourdough starter to make pizza crust. Lately, I've been adapting one of my foccaccia recipes to use as pizza dough, and it's working out really well.

Anonymous said...

I'll go further than Kris and say you just need to pick up / buy / check-out Peter Reinhart's American Pie.

The man is such a bread genius, but my favorite part of his American Pie and Bread Bakers apprentice are his personal stories of exploring for recipes and culture around food.

Anyways. Long post short - You'll find lots of dough variations and reasons to use those variations in American Pie, with very specific, clear recipes.

I've only noticed one glaring mistake in the recipes I think - one of the sauce recipes called for 1 tbs of oregano followed by 1 tbs of oregano. I'm guessing one of those was meant to be basil. Well, the gold is in the methodology more than the quantities really.


Lindsay said...

I almost always make Jamie Oliver's pizza crust from Jamie at Home. It makes a big batch and I can freeze several balls for later.

Amy @ A Little Nosh said...

We use the one from Pioneer Woman's cookbook and I love it. So easy. We just mix it together and stick half in the fridge, and half in the freezer. It's the perfect texture and has a great flavor to it.

Elle said...

We're still in search of the perfect crust, too. We keep trying new ones, but always end up going back to our local pizza joint. We buy 2 balls of dough for about $3 each and easily feed our family of 6. It's got something so special about it-perfect flavor and texture. I may have to beg for the recipe.

Michelle said...

Great choices for comparison and trying one after the other is the only way to really get a good read on each recipe.

A few years ago I did something similar with sugar cookie recipes and was so surprised at how different each recipe was even though the recipes were very similar. After working with the dough and the taste test, I threw out 2 of the recipes!

Maris (In Good Taste) said...

Still looking for that perfect crust but definitely got some good ideas from you.

Jenny Sunshine said...

We use this recipe for pizza crust-It's never failed me since I've found it. Makes 2 perfect size pizzas and I've had success freezing half if needed.

I cut parchment paper circles out slightly (1/2") larger than our pizza stones, let the stones warm up in the oven, roll out the crusts on the paper, top, and when the stones are warm, I slide the pizza topped paper circles onto the stone. I also use my Misto and spray the edge of the dough with olive oil and sprinkle on some garlic salt before I toss it back in the oven - yum! I know the paper isn't enviromentally friendly, but it does make it so much easier!

It took me a while to get it right, but with this recipe- I always do!

Deborah said...

Pizza crust is one of those things I really struggle with, and I've turned to buying a pizza dough that my grocery store sells. (It's actually really good!) But I still want to master crust - I should give this one a try!

Alicia Foodycat said... Tony Gemignani's is superb! Thin, crisp and gets lovely big bubbles around the edge.

Lori said...

All of your crusts look amazing and have me so hungry for pizza even though we just had it! My go too recipe is the Spelt Pizza Dough Recipe from Off Her Cork. I sub white whole wheat or whole wheat for the AP in it. My next pizza adventure will be trying to make a Chicago-style crust. I have a few recipes, but haven't tried it yet.

Natasha @ Saved by the Egg Timer said...

I love a good pizza, great idea to people add their recipe or go to spot for a great dough. My dough needs work too so I do not have a suggestion but I will happilly be checking out all the suggestions.

grace said...

air pockets in the crust are a big draw for me, but more than anything else, i'm interested in the toppings. your pictures have made me a happy gal and given me some great ideas. :)

Edith said...

I use a recipe I found in Harrowsmith magazine a long time ago. It uses quite a bit of olive oil and semolina flour (2 cups semolina flour to 1 1/2 cups white flour). This dough is silky smooth, easy to stretch thin, and when baked it is crisp and oh-so-good-tasting. The semolina flour is really what gives it all these good characteristics. You can find semolina flour at your local co-op (I've bought mine at Seward).

Jenn @leftoverqueen said...

Oh man, I feel you! I think I tried at least 20 different versions until I found our absolute favorite - and when an Italian born in Rome tells you that it is his favorite crust, you know it is the real deal. It is so flavorful and actually easy to digest and better for you because it is sourdough.

In that post I also talk about our adventures in coming up with the perfect crust! LOL

If not that one, my other favorite was using the Artisan Bread in 5's Olive oil dough as a base.

Tangled Noodle said...

Marvelous, marvelous pies!! We transferred our Pizza Night Thursdays from Minnesota to Manila, but with some adjustment - I just commented on your mac-n-cheese post that certain ingredients, particularly cheese, are hard or more expensive to come by here. As a result, we haven't had homemade pizza since moving here (not to mention my pizza stone doesn't fit in the oven - waahhh!). But as I find good local cheeses, I'll be sure to come back here for the links to the crust recipes. 8-D

Unintentional Housewife said...

I've been making my own pizza dough for as long as I've been cooking. I use the America's Test Kitchen food processor recipe, and then I hand-toss the dough to make my crusts. Here's the post I wrote about making pizza dough: Slow Rise Pizza Dough Enjoy!

Deeba PAB said...

Wow...great post. Wish I'd seen this earlier and had got my dough going yesterday. Will try tomorrow morning. I'm HUNGRY for pizza!

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