We’ve tried making pizza from scratch before, but never were really satisfied with the crust (Sarah’s sauce is awesome, however). It was always too flimsy, messy and difficult to move around or bake completely. So we stopped trying for a while.
But then we got inspiration from Food52. I’d heard of the concept of no-knead bread before — thanks to my trusty How to Cook Everything app (same dude, Jim Lahey, is mentioned there, too). The big deal here is that you’ve got to have enough foresight to give it time. 18 hours advanced planning sounds pretty tough on the face of it. But, think about it: when do you want to eat pizza? Figure dinner at 6pm, and maybe 30 minutes preparation (if you’re really slow — probably less!). 18 hours prior to 5:30pm is 11:30pm the night before. If you go to bed earlier, it’s no big deal to let the dough rise a little more, particularly if the ambient temperature where the dough is rising is a little cooler than average. So it’s really no stretch to decide late the night before that we’re having pizza for dinner the following night.
Then, over night all the magic happened. Leading up to this, it was really nothing more than 1) mix up the dry ingredients together, 2) add in the water, and 3) use your hands to ensure consistency, and form the sticky, shaggy dough into a lump. 18 hours and thousands of tiny yeasty burps later, looks like this.
A few months ago, we got a Pampered Chef stoneware baking tray and were excited about it, but it didn’t last long. On the second or third use while baking a loaf of bread, we heard a loud, ominous POP! and were dismayed to find it had split right down the middle. The real bummer here: no refund, just a replacement, and guess whose responsibility the shipping is?
So, Sarah surprised me one day with this model — only she scooped it up from our favorite local kitchenware store (our favorite place to browse, anyways…much of it is overpriced), where she found it on sale at an even better price).
Very simple ingredients:
- 500 grams (17 1/2 ounces or about 3 3/4 unsifted cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
- 1 whole packet (about 7g) of German dry yeast (the yeast in the U.S. appears to be stronger, so you need more in Germany)
- 16 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt, or less — you might find 16g too salty
- 350ml (1 1/2 cups) water
Very simple instructions:
- Mix the dry ingredients together, then add in the water.
- Cover the bowl, and leave it alone at room temperature for 18 hours (longer in a cooler room, not so long in a warmer room).
- Put your pizza stone in the oven about 8″/20cm from the broiler (Germans: the overhead grill thingie in your oven) and heat it up 500°F, or as close to that as you can get (ours only goes up to 250°C/482°F) for 30 solid minutes. Then, 10 minutes before you’re ready to put a pizza in, set the oven to broil (Germans: this means the overhead grill function in your oven).
- Separate the dough blob into two (thicker crust) or three smaller blobs (thinner crust).
- Form it into pre-baked pizza shapes. Make sure to leave the crust just a little thicker at the outer edge, so it’ll poof up nicely and even be a little soft and chewy underneath the cracker crust surface. Forget all that business of stretching, shaping, and folding if it doesn’t work for you innately. Just roll it out with a rolling pin if you can’t get the dough to stretch into shape by hand; there’s no shame in that. And for Pete’s sake, don’t waste any time trying to make it round.
- Dress your pizza with your sauce and toppings. Don’t forget to leave a little exposed crust at the outer edges. You can brush a little olive oil on those exposed edges to give them a nice golden brown color.
- Carefully get your pizza onto that hot stone. We dressed the pie on a sheet of parchment (Backpapier) for easier transfer. You could also use one of those giant baking spatula peel things, or fake it with a cookie sheet. Broil that pie until it looks done — probably no more than 7 or 8 minutes (faster under a gas broiler).
- Get it out of the oven before it chars. I recommend the cookie sheet as an improvised peel here as well and wouldn’t trust the integrity of a broiled piece of parchment paper. Eat it hot!
In a near-future post, we’ll show you what kind of peetsperiments we tried out using this crust technique.