Test Kitchen – The Tale of Two Doughs…

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I hit the test kitchen the other day to test two different styles of pizza dough recipes, Jim Lahey’s (Sullivan Street Bakery) famed No Knead Dough (Jim Lahey’s No Knead Dough Recipe) and a thin crust recipe that I have been tweaking over the years.  I was making pizza for two different people and knew one liked a more substantial crust (Lahey’s) and the other was in the endless pursuit of the best homemade thin crust recipe.  I am happy to report that I managed to please both.  I’ll start with Lahey’s (Jim Lahey’s No Knead Dough Recipe) and get to my thin crust later.

Just as the name of the states, Lahey’s recipe calls for no kneading, which is a beautiful thing because this dough comes together pretty quickly.  Throw a few ingredients into a bowl, mix one, two, three times – boom, you’re done.  Cover and let rise.  Speaking ofthe rise, the only minor drawback – and it is minor – I see is the long rise time.  The recipe calls for at least 18 hours, so some planning ahead is required.  Trust me, it is a small price to pay.  Another interesting point about Lahey’s dough is that he doesn’t use very much yeast but is able to achieve a good bubbly crust with a deep flavor due to the long rise time.

After rising for a little over 18 hours, dough is portioned out and each dough ball makes one 10 - 12 inch pizza.  Looks just like dough that has been kneaded!

After rising for a little over 18 hours, dough is portioned out and each dough ball makes one 10 – 12 inch pizza. Looks just like dough that has been kneaded!

 

Use a scale to measure your dry ingredients - it is the most accurate.

Use a scale to measure your dry ingredients – it is the most accurate.

Use your hands to stretch and shape dough.  A rolling pin crushes tiny little air bubbles that give the crust is chewy, airy texture.

Use your hands to stretch and shape dough. A rolling pin crushes tiny little air bubbles that give the crust is chewy, airy texture.

I used a pretty simple sauce.  Canned whole tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand.  Two tablespoons of olive oil, big pinch of salt and pepper.  About a teaspoon of sugar.

I used a pretty simple sauce. Canned whole tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand. Two tablespoons of olive oil, big pinch of salt and pepper. About a teaspoon of sugar.

Apply a thin layer of sauce...

Apply a thin layer of sauce…

I used a mixture of fresh and shredded mozzarella...

I used a mixture of fresh and shredded mozzarella…

Hot out of the oven - perfection!  This is the cheese only pizza.

Cheese pizaa hot out of the oven – perfection!

 

Second pie hot out of the oven - bacon, radish, feta, mozzarella...

Second pie hot out of the oven – bacon, radish, feta, mozzarella…

Bacon, Radish, Feta

One thing to point out:  my pizza stone is currently out of commission, so I followed Lahey’s recipe in terms of how to cook the pizza without one.  Needless to say, I was very pleased with the results.  However, with a stone I believe I would have achieved a more bubbly crust.  Overall, a great recipe for delicious homemade, artisan style pizza.

Now let’s take a look at the thin crust recipe.  This crust features a much shorter rise time and more yeast. That’s the odd thing about yeast – more leads to a faster rise and sometimes more flavor.  However, less yeast and a longer rise time leads to similar results.  It is not that simple, but you get the idea.  This recipe calls for about 5 minutes of kneading, but again, the crust is formed by hand, not a rolling pin.  I am a big believer in not over-handling the dough; which can make it tough and brittle.

Thin crust dough before rising.

Thin crust dough before rising.

I used a little thicker sauce for the thin crust.  Canned tomatoes, drained and crushed.  Tomato paste, sugar, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and crushed red pepper.

I used a little thicker sauce for the thin crust. Canned tomatoes, drained and crushed. Tomato paste, sugar, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and crushed red pepper.

 

I used uncooked Italian sausage, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella and shredded mozzarella.  Baked at 400 for around 12 - 14 minutes on an inverted sheet pan.

I used uncooked Italian sausage, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella and shredded mozzarella. Baked at 400 for around 12 – 14 minutes on an inverted sheet pan.

The finished product!  Thin crispy crust, with a nice depth of flavor and balanced toppings.  I was very pleased with how this turned out.

The finished product! Thin crispy crust, with a nice depth of flavor and balanced toppings. I was very pleased with how this turned out.

 

As I said earlier, I was very happy with how the thin crust turned out.  The recipe produce a thin, crispy crust, with a nice depth of flavor and balanced toppings. Of course – I cut into squares.

 

Test Kitchen – The Tale of Two Doughs…

  • Prep time:
  • Cook time:
  • Total time:
  • Yield: 4 individual pizzas
  • Difficulty: medium

Ingredients:

  • Dave’s Thin Crust Pizza
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm (not hot) water
  • 3 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cool (tap) water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Thin Crust Sauce
  • 28 ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • Put tomatoes in a large bowl and crush with a potato masher, until most of the big chunks are broken down. Add remaining ingredients, mix well to combine. Set aside until ready to use. Freeze any leftover.

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, add yeast and warm water. Stir to dissolve yeast.

  2. Add remaining ingredients.  Mix with a wooden spoon until ingredients come together to form a loose mass and then dump it out onto a floured surface.  Knead by hand for 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.

  3. Shape into a ball, tucking the four corners underneath and place into a bowl that has been lightly greased with olive oil and cover with a kitchen towel.

  4. Let dough rise for 6 hours, covered at room temperature.  After 6 hours, remove towel, punch down dough.

  5. Cover and let rise for another 2 hours. After 2 hours, divide dough into four portions.

  6. At this point, the dough can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 3 days.  Allow dough to come to room temperature before using; otherwise it will be difficult to shape.

  7. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Let it heat at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

  8. If using immediately (which is what I recommend), using your hands, shape dough on a lightly floured surface into a 1/4″ thick, 10 – 12 inch round crust. It is important to use your hands during this step to shape, stretch and form the dough. If you use a rolling pin, the dough may become tough after cooking. This is also why it is important that the dough is at room temperature before you begin to form it.

  9. Place dough on a lightly floured, inverted sheet pan (no holes in the pan!), add desired toppings (go easy on the toppings; too much and the pizza will become limp). Bake for 10 – 14 minutes, until crust and cheese are golden brown.

  10. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

  11.  

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