Pizza

Pizza is one of those foods that there are lots of strong opinions about.  I now have three different types of pizza that I make, with very different recipes.  (I’m not going to post a lot about carb counting pizza, because my little one with diabetes won’t eat pizza.)

The pinacle of pizza-ness is the Chicago style stuffed pizza.  I do mean stuffed pizza, not deep dish pizza.  A stuffed pizza has a crust on the bottom, followed by cheese and lots of fillings, then a second crust, and only then the pizza sauce.  It’s very rich and filling because it’s about 2 inches thick.  If stand mixers could talk or have feelings, I would be sure than my Kitchenaid is angry every time I make this pizza.  My old Kitchenaid got too hot to touch every time I made the dough.  I have a recipe for the crust that works well, but am still looking for a sauce recipe.  For those who have access to one, the pizza chain Giordano’s is what I strive to match here.  This pizza is far too rich and time consuming to make very often.

I also like using Alton Brown’s pizza recipe.  It works well, and the crust has a pleasant flavor and is very chewy.  This pizza is made using a pizza peel and pizza stone.  However, the crust needs to be made the night before, so this also is too much for weekly pizza.

I’ve just recently discovered how to make a thin crust pizza that reminds me of what I grew up with in the Chicago area.  It’s a thinner crust than Alton Brown’s.  Also, the flavor of the crust is rather bland, which is good, because I don’t want to emphasize the crust here.  The secret was to make a crust type that I used to make, but much thinner.  This has become my weekly pizza, because it’s less than two hours from start to pizza.

Tonight I’m only going to post the recipe for the Chicago thin crust pizza.  If you’re a fan of ‘New York style’ pizza, this is probably not the pizza for you.  This is an adaptation of the pizza crust recipe from the Kitchenaid stand mixer manual.

Chicago thin crust pizza
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Serves: 2 pizzas
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups King Arthur bread flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2¼ teaspoons SAF red instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1½ cups pizza sauce of your choice
  • 1½ lb mozarella cheese
  • pizza toppings of your choice
Instructions
  1. Combine all dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook. Mix on low speed, then raise speed to knead dough. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour, up to 1 cup. Continue to knead the dough until a grape sized doughball can be stretched so thin you can see through it. I often like to finish up the kneading by hand.
  2. Round the dough into a ball, put back into the mixer bowl, cover bowl with a cloth, and allow to rise for about 45 minutes. After about 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 500 degrees with a pizza stone on the lower rack, the upper rack removed. About the time the oven claims it's done preheating, the dough should be done rising, so that the pizza stone can continue to preheat as the pizza is assembled.
  3. When the dough is ready, grease a thin pizza pan with a little olive oil. Punch down the pizza dough, and divide it in half. Use your hands to shape one piece of the dough into an even disk about ½ inch think, and put this disk into the center of your greased pizza pan. Starting at the center of the pan, use the heel of your hand to press and stretch the dough very thin. A few little rips that you can squish back together are OK; I've never gotten the dough thin enough without them. Leave a very small collar of dough that is a little thicker at the edge of the pizza. You don't want it very thick because it puffs up a lot. The dough should be almost transparent, and reach almost the edges of a 16 inch pizza pan.
  4. Now spread sauce over the entire pizza, except for the collar. It's a matter of personal taste exactly how much, but you do want to be able to see the crust a little through the sauce. On top of the sauce put half the cheese and your choice of toppings. I sometimes put the toppings above the cheese, sometimes under.
  5. Put your pizza pan onto the pizza stone and bake for about 12 minutes, until the crust is golden and the cheese is just barely starting to brown. You may need to rotate the pizza half way through baking.
  6. As the first pizza is baking, assemble the second pizza. When the first pizza is done, let it cool for about 3 minutes on the pan, then slide onto a large cutting board. Put the second pizza into the oven when you take the first one out. Let each pizza cool about 5 minutes after removing form the pan before cutting. Cut into squares or rectanges, about 3 inches per side.

 

I plan to post later the recipe for stuffed pizza and a homemade pizza sauce that works well in this pizza.

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