This pizza was made with a crust recipe that I got out of the most recent issue of Cooks Illustrated. As soon as I read the article saying that they had come up with a way to replicate the light, crisp crust of pizzeria pizza in a home oven, I knew I needed to try it.
Let me just say that I was not disappointed at all. This was definitely the best pizza crust I have ever made - and better than many that I have had in restaurants. It was light, crisp and delicious - not to mention that the outside edge was full of delightfully airy holes. I may never use another crust recipe.
There are a couple of things (beyond ingredients) that you need to have to make this recipe work, something that is not surprising for a Cooks Illustrated recipe, as they tend to be quite specific. You will need a food processor and a baking stone. The food processor is used to produce a silky, supple dough in a very short period of time and the baking stone is vital to getting an evenly cooked crust. I used a scale to weigh my ingredients, but the recipe gave alternate measurements, which I have included here.
The other important thing is cake flour, a low protein flour. According to the test kitchen, using a standard pizzeria crust will not work as well in a standard oven because it is incapable of replicating the 700/800F temperatures of commercial pizzeria ovens. Make sure to find cake flour for this to ensure optimal results.
This Cooking Live entry is a combination recipe/photo essay. The instructions follow the pictures and, hopefully, they will help you stay on track while cooking.
(from Cooks Illustrated)
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 cup water, room temperature
1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 oz) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 cup (4 oz) cake flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
Preheat the oven to 500F with your baking stone on the oven rack. This gives the stone about an hour to heat up while the dough rises.
Measure the ingredients. Dissolve the yeast in the water. Combine flours, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse flour mixture several times to combine it, then gradually pour in the yeast mixture with the motor running. Keep blended for about 2 minutes, until the dough is supple and elastic, as shown in the two photos below.
If the dough sticks to the sides of the mixer and doesn't come together, add an extra tablespoon or two of flour. If it is too dry to come together, add an extra tablespoonful of water.
Once your dough is smooth and supple, take it out of the food processor and divide it in two. Shape each piece into a tight ball by gathering the edges and pushing them into the center, as pictured above. Pinch the edge to seal.
Place dough balls on a lightly floured surface and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap or a clean dish towel. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Take the risen dough and, working with one ball of dough at a time, place on a lightly floured surface. Flatten the dough into an 8-inch disk, then stretch the edges gently until the dough is about 12-inches in diameter (pictured below). You can also gently stretch the dough by placing it on the backs of your hands, but take care that is does not develop weak spots.
Once the dough has been shaped, place it on wooden peel that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. If you do not have a peel, use an edge-less baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal instead.
Spread dough with a thin layer of pizza/tomato sauce and fresh mozarella that has been cut into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces. Do not overdo the toppings, as pizza margherita is meant to be thin and crisp.
Slide the pizza off of the peel/baking sheet and onto the preheated baking stone in a 500F oven. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until crust is browned and cheese has melted.
Slide peel under pizza to remove if from the baking stone. Serve immediately and repeat with remaining dough ball for second pizza.
[All Photos by Nicole Weston]