Make a Perfect Pizza Crust - Part 1 - Something in the Water
Secret #1 for a Perfect Crust
Learn how to make a pizza crust that will rival ANYTHING you've ever tasted in a pizzeria. Making a great crust isn't difficult; you just have to know what to do. You are about to join an elite group of "upper crust" pizza makers. No more soggy or cardboardy crusts for you!
P.S. See below for Secret #2 and stay tuned for Secret #3 for a Perfect Pizza Crust!
My Long Struggle
Photo courtesy of Flickr and cowbite
I've been trying to make the perfect pizza crust for over twenty years. I've come close a few times, but it's never a sure thing. I've found that there are some things I can do to improve my chances of making a delicious pizza with a beautiful, just-crunchy-enough crust. This series of suggestions will work on any dough recipe and any crust, whether it's thick, thin, deep-dish and double-crust. Give them a try and enjoy the compliments next time you make a pizza. Read on for the first Secret of Perfect Pizza Crusts.
The Basics of Making Pizza Dough
You'll need these ingredients for your crust
Photo courtesy of Flickr and Sarah and Jason
The following ingredients are the basis for most standard white-flour dough/crust recipes. Some people like to use olive oil. You can put lots of other things into the dough too. Try herbs like basil, oregano, or rosemary. Put in some minced garlic or garlic powder, but be a little careful here; too much garlic can retard the action of the yeast. I'll bet some chopped sun-dried tomatoes would be yummy. Don't get too fussy about the exact amount of water or flour; you may need to add more of one or the other while you are mixing the dough.
1 package active dry yeast (2 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (105Â° to 115Â°, no more)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
(optional) 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little for coating
What does each ingredient do for the dough?
Should I use all-purpose flour or bread flour?
The traditional directions for pizza dough as are follows. After we've gone through the basics, we'll talk about those secrets I promised.
1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water (takes maybe 5 minutes).
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and liquid.
If making your dough by hand, stir until the mixture forms a ball, then turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for about five minutes.
If you have a mixer with a dough hook, knead the ingredients on low for about five minutes with the dough hook.
3. Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover loosely and let the dough rise until about doubled in volume, an hour or two.
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and move it, by hand or with a rolling pin, into the desired shape and thickness. Make sure your edges are a little thicker than the rest of the pie crust.
5. Transfer carefullly to baking sheet and add the desired toppings. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is melted and lightly browned." />
Should I put Viagara in the Pizza Dough Next Time?
Photo courtesy of Flickr and Thomas23
That recipe is fine as far as it goes, but it won't give you that fabulous slightly-crispy crust that is necessary for a wonderful pizza. So what do you do? Pay very close attention, because you are about to learn something amazing. Are you ready?
Something's in the Water
Photo courtesy of Flickr and miss kris
Folks in New York and Chicago swear that their pizza crusts are superior because of the water. I was skeptical about this until I did some research and discovered that qualities of the water really do affect pizza crusts and other baked products. So should you have the water for your pizza dough imported from New York or Chicago?
The hardness of water has a big effect on the outcome of baked products. Hardness is a measure of the amount of dissolved minerals, mostly calcium and magnesium, present in the water. A moderate amount of these minerals strengthens the gluten in the dough, giving it "body." That's good for your crust. Too much hardness makes the crust tough. That's bad. You want to find water that has a moderate hardness (amount of dissolved minerals).
Treated or filtered water have most of the minerals removed, so they are soft, and therefore not really optimal for making a great pizza crust. You'll get a spongy or soft crust. Try making your pizza crust with bottled spring water. If you want to try other waters and you're not sure about the hardness of your water, you can request a free water-testing kit.
For more information on the effects of hardness and acidity of water in baked products, visit this article from Baker's Journal.
You Can Buy Water Hardness Testing Kits on Amazon
They're not very expensive. If you're really serious about your pizza crust, you can test and experiment with different waters (bottled, spring....)
Making Pizza on YouTube - A quick and easy thin-crust pizza.
These Books Are Especially Good - And you can buy them from Amazon
See the forum discussion about this book at 101 Cookbooks.
What Do You Think?
Does the Kind of Water You Use Affect the Pizza Crust?
When Good Dough Goes Bad
Photo courtesy of Flickr and mandydale
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Cook a Pizza with Amazon - Cool kitchen gear to help you make pizza
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Pizza Recipes on the Web
Pizza Books on Amazon
I always like to get your comments.