I could say a lot about pizza. I’ve definitely had my fair share. The only important thing to know is that if done right, it’s freaking delicious. Thick crust, thin crust, stuffed, meat lover, plain cheese. Itsallgooood. I have to say my favorite is thin crust. New york style. Crunchy yet chewy crust, extra cheese, a little ‘roni and you’ve got my ticket. But I love the versatility of it too. There are infinite amount of options.
Every homemade pizza crust that we beta tested turned out how you basically think it would. Hot bread with sauce and cheese. I was determined to get the pizza crust that you get from pizza places.
Then one day, it hit me. It hit me like a dang bug flying against traffic. Why wouldn’t the artisan bread dough that we make work? I ran it by The Chef and he seemed kind of skeptical. (I think he was just jealous he didn’t think of it first) ;). I was out on a mission. I started polishing my research on the best way to make my desired crust. Oven stones.
Just like the dutch oven in the artisan bread, pizza stones/bread stones/whatever stones, retains the heat and sears the crust of the bread/crust. It makes the outside crunchy and the inside nice and soft and chewy.
So I’m going to give you the low down. Go to Menard’s and buy non glazed, terra cotta/ quarry stone bricks. We bought ours in a case for about $12?? But we have more than we need. When you go to make your pizza you only need roughly 12. 6 laid out, double high. (This will depend on your oven and cookie sheet size, but it should be around that.) Preheat your oven as high as it will go. Ours goes to 550˚. Set the stones on a cookie sheet that fits them all and shove them in the oven. Preheat them for about 45 minutes to an hour. You want those suckers hot.
With your artisan bread dough, already risen overnight, take the dough and divide it into four equal parts. Each ball will be one pizza crust. Depending on how many pizza’s you are making (we’ll just say one for now), put the other three in a ziplock bag and pop it in the refrigerator. They will basically be cold rising from here on out. If you leave them in the fridge, use within a week. Anything after that, place in the freezer. The day your ready to bake, allow yourself several hours for thawing.
With the dough that you are using immediately, roll into a tight ball and cover with a kitchen towel, *spray lightly with cooking spray to prevent a crust from forming*. Allow to rise for 1 1/2-2 hours. — Same process that the recipe calls for except the light spray.
Place the dough onto a well floured surface, pressing the dough into the flour–on both sides. The surface and dough cannot be sticky at all. And it works better if it’s a counter or something that doesn’t move when working with the dough. With the dough being properly floured, place one hand on the outside of the dough, like your shielding it from… something… With your other hand directly on top of the dough and perpendicular to the shielding hand, press firmly into the dough, making the crust. Continue all the way around the dough.
With a good crust formed, using your fingertips, dimple the dough. Start from the top and work your way down, then up the right side, really driving your fingertips into the dough. Get mad at it! When you’re back at the top, give the dough a quarter turn and start again. Repeat a few more times.
Then take the dough and place your hands right together. Slowly push your hands apart, stretching out the dough. This is done is almost a circular motion. When you have a nice level mid section, gently pick up the dough and hold them over fisted hands. Again, slowly pull your hands apart, stretching out the dough. Watch out for holes. If you do get them, pinch and twist the dough together again.
You’re dough should be pretty thin by now, which is exactly what we’re looking for.
Using a pizza peel, or a cookie sheet without sides, gently scoop up and move the pizza dough onto the “transition” piece. You want to do this before putting the sauce and toppings on just in case of small holes tearing.
Which leads to leaks and stuckness. Not what we’re going for.
Take your favorite marinara, we make our own, but I apologize, I don’t have the recipe. The Chef does that one (he’s working right now) and it’s so gosh darn good. He basically eyeballs it and it comes out fantastic. Every. Time.
But we are focusing on the pizza crust right now.
Spread the sauce out evenly, but don’t overload it. Take mozzarella and cover the pizza. We use fresh mozzarella, and slice it up. Use whatever toppings you want, we used pepperoni. And by we, I mean The Chef completed this task. He likes his pepperoni…
Make sure the pizza still slides around on the “transition” piece, open up the rip roaring oven and gently, carefully slide the pizza onto the stones. Hear the sizzle! Bake it for 6-7 minutes. If the cheese needs to be more brown, put the oven on broil. Seriously watch it closely though. That darn thing will turn on you faster than Jeff Gordon makes those left turns.
Let it rest so you don’t burn the roof of your mouth. Pop open an ice cold pop (or soda if you’re anywhere other than Michigan) and you just made a nice hot ‘za for only like $3. Go you.
If you’re looking at these pictures and staring at the grease, it’s because of the loud amount of pepperoni. Lord love a duck though, it was gooood.
I’m convinced that pizza makes the heart feel better. Until the heart attack.
‘Scuse me while I go wipe my mouth and mow down another piece.