Battle Pizza Crust: Smitten Kitchen’s Rushed Crust

I know what you are thinking–does this girl make anything other than pizza and baked goods?  I do–really–but dinner is often a rushed affair after school and work. Midday baking is so much more luxurious and blog worthy…  I promise though–I do feed my children things other than muffins and cookies.

Most nights are busy but sometimes they are extra busy.  We had parent teacher conferences at 5:30 and someone (me) forgot to make a pizza dough ahead of time. Oops.  Smitten kitchen to the rescue!  I’d seen her two doughs in her book last time I flipped through it. A rushed dinner seemed the perfect opportunity for the rushed dough recipe. With just 30 minutes of rise time, I could have dinner done in under an hour.

The dough was perfect–I made it in about 3 minutes as my mom and I chatted before she left. Just a few basic ingredients in this one.

After the rise, I was able to stretch this dough out into an amazingly thin crust. There weren’t any breaks though I did have some very thin spots that I patched a little.  Mine was a little on the wet side but I didn’t want to add any flour and gave a sad dry crust, so I just let it be.

Top and bake!  I always bake my pizzas on the cast iron pizza pan I keep in my oven. I use it for breads and pizzas to help give them a nice crust on the bottom.

This pizza was…amazing. Chewy, super thin, crispy in the right places. And fast!  If you are in the mood for a thin crust pizza–this is your dough.   Now I’m super curious to try out her other crust option that allows for a longer, less rushed rise time.

 

Rushed Pizza Crust

From Smitten Kitchen’s Cookbook

 

1/2 cup warm water

1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for rolling

1 tsp salt

olive oil, for coating bowl (I used cooking spray)

 

Turn your oven up to 200 degrees (or a warm setting if you have it) for 5 minutes. Then, turn it off.

Add water to large mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes or until foamy. Add flour, followed by the salt, and stir with a wooden spoon until dough begins to come together. It will look sort of shaggy and rough but that is ok.

Turn dough and any loose bits out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it comes together and forms a smooth dough.  It will only take a few minutes.

Coat the inside of a large mixing bowl with olive oil or cooking spray and then place dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and place in your oven (which you heated in step 1) and let rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Once doubled, take it out of the oven and start preheating for your pizza baking temperature (I like 450).  Remove the dough from bowl and roll dough out into your desired shape, top and bake.

Battle Pizza Crust: No Knead Bread Dough

I usually have a bucket of the basic no-knead recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day in my fridge. It is super easy to mix up, lasts a long time, and is my back up bread dough for those days when the fancy bread is stale and I need to make sandwiches for school lunches. Its a good, solid bread dough and really helped launch me into a love of bread baking.

  
Could it be a decent pizza crust?

I have tried this a few times now and come to the conclusion that its “pretty ok” It is better than a frozen pizza or most chain pizza delivery places. I’d put it solidly above the dominoes/papa johns type delivery but below a really great local pizza place. What it lacks in amazingness, it sure does make up for in speed. I had a pizza assembled and ready to cook before my oven was even preheated!

This isn’t my favorite pizza dough by any means but, if you already have some in the fridge, it makes a great speedy dinner option. Its a little bland and could probably greatly benefit by either brushing some melted butter on the edge or sprinkling some Parmesan cheese on it before baking. It was a little hard to get it stretched into a thin enough crust so mine was extra thick. This dough doesn’t have the same elasticity as a good pizza crust has so you have to kind of mush it and stretch it into shape rather than stretch it in the air. This inconsistency in thickness also meant there were some bulges and bubbles in the crust as it baked, so my toppings slid around a little.

  
Overall, I’d give it a B-. Its ok for a quick meal during a football game but its not a crust I’d break out if I had company over.

No Knead Bread Dough

24 ounces lukewarm water
2 pounds AP Flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast

Combine all ingredients in a large (very large) bowl. I use a 6 quart dough bucket. Mix until the flour is all incorporated, then allow to rise for 2 hours. Either bake from it then, or refrigerate until ready to use.

To use, lightly flour the surface of the dough. Grab a large handful (about a grapefruit size makes a nice loaf) and lop off or tear it. Gently shape into a loaf and allow to rise on the counter for 40 minutes. About halfway through the rise time, heat the oven to 450. Slash the top of the loaf and put it in the oven on a baking stone, if you have one. Bake until golden brown (time will depend on size of loaf).

To use as pizza crust: lop off a similar amount and shape into a circle on a piece of parchment paper. Gently stretch and work the dough into a vaguely pizza like shape, trying to maintain an even thickness. Top and bake immediately for a thinner crust or allow to rise for 40 minutes before topping for a thicker crust.

Battle Pizza Crust: Beer Crust Part 2

Straight from the freezer–to my piehole!

When I originally made the Beer Crust Pizza, I froze half of the dough since one pizza is really plenty for us.

After a week or so of waiting in there, I pulled it out in the morning and let it thaw in the fridge for dinner that day. It thawed easily and was, as most pizza crusts are after being frozen and thawed, a little wetter/stickier than it was when it was fresh. It was a little more difficult to shape given the stickiness. I ended up stretching it on the sheet pan rather than my usual in the air using my knuckles method.

You’d never know there was any difference in the feel of the dough after it baked up–crispy on the bottom and super flavorful with the beer and Parmesan cheese in the dough. It is the kind of crust that has enough going on that I–a naked crust hater–ate them up!

Next time I make a batch of this, I may try a double batch so I have three portions in the freezer. It seriously is faster than making a frozen pizza and much more delicious!

Battle Pizza Crust: Beer Crust Pizza

It’s FOOTBALL TIME! Though my beloved Lions are probably going to be terrible again this year, I can still celebrate the season with the perfect football delicacies: Beer and Pizza.

But wait–why not combine these two??

 

Oh yes. Sign me up.

This dough came together in a snap with only a few ingredients:

I’m so smooth and easy to work with.

 

As for flavor, this was really delicious. The Parmesan cheese in the dough added a lot and the beer added a certain level of tang to the crust that I haven’t gotten from a more traditional yeast dough. This crust wasn’t chewy like some of the others I have tried but it wasn’t really a negative, just different. I think this would make a really fantastic deep dish pizza crust. I saved half of the dough in the freezer and I will use it to try a deep dish pizza in a cast iron skillet.

Beer Crust Pizza
2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups semolina
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I only had shredded and it was fine!)
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cups room-temperature beer (I used Shiner Bock but anything you have will work)

Mix all the ingredients together and knead by hand until you have a soft, smooth dough. Cover the dough and allow to rise for 30 minutes to 2 hours. I put mine in the fridge overnight.

Divide the dough in half and shape into a roughly pizza shaped object. If you want a thinner crust, top and bake immediately. For a thicker crust, allow to rise for 30 minutes before topping and baking. Transfer to a heated oven with a pizza stone (or a large cast iron skillet) and allow to bake until the cheese and bubbly and the crust is done.

 

Battle Pizza Crust: The Alton Brown Follow Up

pizza

Remember when I froze half of my Alton Brown Pizza Crust?

It lived in the freezer for about a week until I was ready for more pizza. It defrosted in the fridge over night and was perfect by the next day. Unlike the leftover Bobby Flay Crust, this didn’t have any dry patches on it.

I let the dough come up to room temperature and then stretched it out as I had with the fresh dough. It baked up as crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside as it had the first time.

I can see myself making large batches of this dough and freezing it in portions for quick dinners. I bet it makes a great garlic bread to go alongside other dishes as well instead of just limiting it to pizza.

Battle Pizza Crust: Part 2–The Alton Brown Recipe

Pizza

Its time for part two of the showdown! I planned ahead for the pizza-making, so I opted for Alton Brown’s Pizza Crust. Going in, I have high expectations since I’m pretty much an Alton Brown devotee.

My difficulties in mixing up Bobby Flay’s dough were completely non-existent with this recipe. The dough went from start:

dough1

to well-formed:

dough2

in the time it took me to put the yeast and sugar away. I let the machine knead the dough as instructed (I even set a timer!) and then put it into a bowl to work its magic in the fridge overnight. Stretching it out was a cinch and the resulting pizza was delicious! The dough was chewy, buttery, and crisp on the outside. I may try a few other recipes but I’m pretty sure this will be the eventual champion of the pizza dough battle.

I have another portion of this dough in the freezer for later experimentation. There is some discussion of par-cooking the pizza crust and then freezing it but I opted for freezing it in an uncooked ball out of sheer laziness. Only time will tell if this was a terrible strategy!

Battle Pizza Crust: Part 1

Pizza

I make a fair amount of pizza at home since it is something I can assemble quickly during a busy evening. Usually, I use my favorite no-knead bread dough as a crust since I always have a batch of that in the fridge. lately though, I’ve been wanting more. The no knead boule is great bread but…it just lacks something for a pizza crust.

dough

All of my cookbooks are currently packed up for our upcoming move, so off to google I went. I came across a few different options but settled on Bobby Flay’s Pizza Crust. The dough came together easily though it did take longer than I anticipated. I ended up using all of the 4 cups of flour plus about 3 tablespoons of bread flour to get the dough to finally begin coming away from the side of the stand mixer bowl.

garlic

While the dough was rising, I mixed up a chunky pizza sauce.

Chunky Pizza Sauce
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion
1 large can of whole tomatoes
herbs (basil, oregano, thyme)

Saute the onions and garlic until translucent, add the can of tomatoes and crush. I use a tomato masher though I know some people prefer to crush by hand in the can.

Add the herbs and simmer until it cooks down and thickens. I let my simmer for 45 minutes or so to get it nice and thick.

sauce

Once the dough had risen, I divided it in half and assembled the first pizza. Top as you wish, I did a basic pepperoni.

slice

I reserved the other half of the dough for later in the week. After 5 days waiting in the fridge, the dough didn’t suffer at all. There was one small dry patch on it that I plucked off before shaping. The taste was very similar–perhaps a little more sour (it smelled faintly like my sourdough starter) but it wasn’t a bad quality at all.

Overall, this was a good dough–crispy and chewy. I have a few other recipes to try out before I commit to this one and it doesn’t delivery everything I want in a crust. I’m still looking for a buttery crust that would be suitable for a thick crust/deep dish pizza. I have a feeling this recipe would just taste like a thick lump of dry bread.

Next try: Alton Brown’s Pizza Dough. I probably would have started with his but it required an overnight rise and my pizza needs couldn’t wait that day.