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Thin-Crust Pizza

NOTE: our preferred brand of whole-milk mozzarella is Dragone. you can shape the second dough ball while the first pizza bakes, but don’t top the pizza until right before you bake it. if you don’t have a baking stone, bake the pizzas on an overturned and preheated rimmed baking sheet. it is important to use ice water in the dough to prevent overheating the dough while in the food processor. semolina flour is ideal for dusting the peel; use it in place of bread flour if you have it. the sauce will yield more than needed in the recipe; extra sauce can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to a month. for our free recipe for thin-crust white pizza, go to www.CooksIllustrated.com/feb11.

Dough

  • 3 cups bread flour, plus more for work surface (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/3 cups ice water (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for work surface
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

Sauce:

  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and liquid discarded
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black paper

Cheese:

  • 1 ounce finely  grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 8 ounces shredded whole milk mozzarella (about 2 cups) (see note)
  1. FOR THE DOUGH: in food processor fitted with metal blade, process flour, sugar, and yeast until combined, about 2 seconds. with machine running, slowly add water through feed tube; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. let dough stand 10 minutes.
  2. add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 30 to 60 seconds. remove dough from bowl, knead briefly on lightly oiled countertop until smooth, about 1 minute. shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
  3. FOR THE SAUCE: process all ingredients in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. transfer to medium bowl or container and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. TO BAKE THE PIZZA: one hour before baking pizza, adjust oven rack to second highest position (rack shout be about 4 to 5 inches below broiler), set pizza stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. remove dough from refrigerator and divide on lightly oiled baking sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray; let stand for 1 hour.
  5. coat 1 ball of dough generously with flour and place on well-floured countertop. using fingertips, gently flatten into 8 inch disk, leaving 1 inch of outer edge slightly thicker than center. using hands, gently stretch into 13-inch round. using back of spoon or ladle, spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce in thin layer over surface of dough, leaving 1/4 inch border around edge. sprinkle 1/4 cup parmesan evenly over sauce, followed by 1 cup mozzarella. slide pizza carefully onto stone and bake until crust is well browned and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pizza halfway through. remove pizza and place on wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. repeat step 5 to shape, top, and bake second pizza.

Topping tips:

we like our thin-crust pizza simply dressed with tomato sauce and handfuls of shredded mozzarella and parmesan, but additional toppings are always an option-provided they’re prepared correctly and added judiciously. (an overloaded pie will bake up soggy.) here are a few guidelines for how to handle different types of topping:

HEARTY VEGETABLES

aim for a maximum of 6 ounces per pie, spread out in a single layer. vegetables such as onions, peppers, and mushrooms should be thinly sliced and lightly sauteed (or microwaved for a minute or two along with a little olive oil) before using.

DELICATE VEGETABLES AND HERBS

leafy greens and herbs like spinach and basil are best placed beneath the cheese to protect them or added raw to the fully cooked pizza.

MEATS:

proteins (no more than 4 ounces per pie) should be precooked and drained to remove excess fat. we like to poach meats like sausage (broken up into 1/2 inch chunks), pepperoni, or ground beef for 4 to 5 minutes in a wide skillet along with 1/4 cup of water, which helps to render the fat while keeping the meat moist.

Technique

Baking the pizza on the top rack-rather than the usual approach of placing it near the bottom of a home oven-means heat will hit the top of the pie, browning the toppings before the crust overcooks.

source: cook’s illustrated February 2011

article by: andrew janjigian

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