For many years I have
been trying to learn the secrets of making a good thin-crust pizza. I've
had this type of pie at various pizza parlors such as Shakey's Pizza
Restaurant, Pizza Inn, Pizza Hut, and the Village Inn Pizza Parlor. I have
been told that this type of pizza is officially known as an "Original
California-Style" pizza and is also found at such restaurants as Straw Hat
and Round Table. To quote the folks at Straw Hat, "California crust is
special, it's a layered, flaky crust. It's airy and crispy on the bottom,
yet bubbling on top. It has a cracker-like crunch, and is never soggy or
here to see what I mean.
Here are some of the
secrets that I have learned so far:
The whole concept
of the thin crust is more than just the flour or dough recipe, it is
the method of sheeting the dough into the pizza pan. Most
restaurants employ the use of a special machine known as a dough
sheeter (or roller) which rolls out the dough quickly and evenly.
They typically run the dough through the sheeter about 5 or 6 times,
dusting the dough with flour each time, to get it down to the
paper-thin thickness. The function of the dusting flour is to
actually incorporate more flour into the dough during the sheeting
process. The dough is typically short a little flour in the mixing
process so that it will sheet easier, so the dough reaches its final
flour content during the dusting and sheeting process.
Acme Dough Roller
Thin-crust pizza dough
is somewhat dry and dense after sheeting. You will need to dust the
dough with flour several times as you roll it out in order to
incorporate more flour into the recipe. This also helps ensure that the
dough will not stick to the countertop and your rolling pin.
It is important that
you use flour with a high gluten content (12% protein or higher) in
order to make the crust crispy. The
Flour Company manufactures a high-gluten flour that contains 14%
protein which is excellent for this recipe (see their "Sir Lancelot"
brand). If you don't have Sir Lancelot handy then use a quality
bread flour that contains at least 12% protein. Do not use
Retard dough a full day
(24-hours) in the refrigerator (38 °F to 40 °F). This allows the yeast
to work long and hard which develops the dough's characteristic texture
and, more importantly, its unique flavor. Allow dough to warm to room
temperature for about an hour or two before rolling out and docking.
I have worked long and
hard developing this recipe and it is by no means perfect. I have eaten
more test-pizzas than I care to admit. I hope you enjoy the fruits of my
labor and I hope that you share your pizza making experiences with me.
1 pound (or about 3 1/2
cups) high gluten flour
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
In a heavy-duty stand
mixer (e.g., KitchenAid) fitted with dough hook, add the water,
oil, yeast, salt, and sugar. Mix thoroughly until yeast has fully
dissolved. Add flour and mix on low speed until all of the flour and
water have mixed and a stiff dough ball forms, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Stop mixing as soon as the dough ball forms as this type of dough
should not be kneaded.
Place the dough ball into a large bowl and
cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 24 hours in
the refrigerator before using. Please note that I cannot
over-emphasize the importance of a 24-hour rising time since it is
absolutely essential for the dough to develop its
signature texture and, more importantly, its unique flavor! Do not
skip this step!
Thin-Crust Pizza Sauce
28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes in
heavy puree (RedPack
1 tablespoon fresh green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Place all ingredients in
a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and simmer over low
heat for 20 minutes (do not allow the sauce to boil). Allow to cool to
room temperature before using.
Preheat your oven to 500
°F about one hour before you plan to bake the pizza.
Turn the dough out onto a
large surface and dust with flour. Using a heavy rolling pin (or dough
sheeter), roll the dough out very thin to form a 24-inch or
larger circle. If you're using a cutter pizza pan
(recommended), dust the pan lightly with flour, place the dough in the pan
and dock. Use the rolling pin to trim off the excess dough drooping over
the sides of the pan. If you wish to cook the pizza directly on a pizza
stone (not using a pan), then place the dough on a dusted pizza-peel,
dock, and fold the edge over 1-inch all the way around and pinch it up to
form a raised lip or rim.
Photo courtesy of
Optionally, pre-cook the crust
for 4 minutes before adding any sauce or toppings. Remove the crust from
the oven and pop any large air pockets that may have formed. Add the
sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, and your favorite toppings. Continue
baking, on the lowest oven rack, rotating the pan half way through so that it cooks evenly, until
crust is sufficiently browned and crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove
the pizza from the oven and slide pizza out of cooking pan onto a large
wire cooling rack or cutting board. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before
transferring to a serving pan. This step allows the crust to stay crisp
while it cools, otherwise the trapped steam will soften the crust.
Once cool, use a pizza
cutter to slice the pie into pieces and enjoy! Please share your results
Also see the following posts
on the forum which contain more photos and details.
Best ever thin "cracker" crust pizza!
DKM's Thin Crust w/Pictures
mention: I owe a great deal
of my thin-crust pizza making success to Scott Erb, Tod Livingston, and
Deven Mercer, all who have
worked at pizza parlors in the past and have pointed me in the right
direction in developing a thin-crust pizza. I have also received some
useful information from Fisher Mills
who manufactures a thin-crust pizza dough mix for use in restaurants.