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June 13, 2011

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I have been on the search for the perfect thin pizza crust recipe for, oh about 5 years now…no longer than that. I have tried the no-rising needed crust recipes, the semolina flour recipes, the whole wheat recipes, the no wheat recipes…you name it, I think I have tried it. Problem is, I am just never satisfied. I love pizza, but let’s be honest…there are very few places that make really good thin crust pizza. Yes I know there are many different versions of thin crust. I do not plan on getting into the argument of New York Style versus everything else here. To me, good pizza is good pizza. It doesn’t need to be one style or another. (Unless of course you are talking about Chicago style deep dish which is in a category by itself).

To me, the most difficult part of a pizza is getting the crust right. It can’t be thick and chewy (though this pizza, mainly Gumby’s of Madison, Wisconsin, has it’s place at 3:00 in the morning just after bar time). It can’t be dry and carboard-like. There are a few different styles that are delicious in my book. I am no expert and really cannot tell you the exact subtle differences between a Roman and Napolitao Pizza but Italian Pizzeria pizza is on the top of my list. It can be cracker crust thin or slightly more doughy with just a hint of chew to it. The toppings are simple and usually used sparingly. Best of all everyone gets their own pizza with whatever they like most on it.

As I lost my phone with all of our Italian pizza pictures, I combed the web and found this smattering of samples of the kind of pizza that I love most.

The first two pictures are from the Spiaggia Restaurant website. Spiaggia has been heralded as one of the best Italian restaurants in the United States and is owned by the woman, Cathy Mantuano, who hooked me up with good places to eat in Rome and a balsamic vinegar connection in Reggio-Emiglia. I must admit, I have not had the fortune to eat at Spiaggia…it is a bit out of my price range, but I have had lunch in the Cafe a couple of times and their pizza, as well as most anything on their menu is to die for.

So why am I going off about pizza like this…what I took from my trip to Italy is that pizza should, like everything else, be simple. It is afterall peasant food. Use what you have laying around and keep those ingredients fresh. Last night we had some friends over for dinner. We made 4 pizzas…sorry I don’t have pictures of them from last night…just my pics of the leftover slices I had for lunch today.

Clockwise starting from the bottom left: crushed tomatos (I used Pomi brand that comes in a little box), dried oregano, mushrooms and dollops of fresh mozzarella. Top: thinnly sliced potatoes (potato pizza is very popular in Italy and one of my new faves), fresh rosemary, olive oil and dollops of fresh mozzarella. Right: Thinnly sliced onions, tossed with a touch of heavy whipping cream and thyme.

I finally found a crust recipe that I love. It comes from Jim Lahey’s book, my bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method. I bought the book for Jeff a couple of years ago for his birthday and our house has not been the same. His bread recipes are easy to make and the best I have had outside of bakeries with steam ovens…but that is a subject for another post. This dough recipe makes enough for two 13×18″ cracker crust thin pies…though we made one a little smaller and it had a delightful chew to it, like the pizza from Napoli. I measure by weight, but am including the volume as well.

bread flour 3 3/4 c or 500g

instant yeast 2 1/2 tsp or 10g

salt 3/4 tsp or 5 g

sugar 3/4 tsp plus a pinch or 3 g

toom temp water (72 degrees) 1 1/3 c or 300g

extra virgi olive oil for the pans

Mix together dry ingredients. Add water and mix until blended, at least 30 seconds. Cover and let sit at room temp until doubled, about 2 hours.

Oil two cookie sheets. Scrape the dough onto the sheet and using your fingers, gently press it out evenly to the edges of the pan (or not if you want a thicker crust). pinch any holes together and add more flour if dough sticks to your fingers (not a problem in this dry climate)!

Top as you like and heat at 500 degrees F for 20-30 minutes or whenever it is finished.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2011 11:18 pm

    Mel, it looks AMAZING! I want to eat with you!
    I’m so sorry you lost all of your pictures. That would KILL me. Ugh.

    • thesinglechef permalink*
      June 14, 2011 6:37 pm

      thanks carrie…you can come to idaho and eat with me anytime!

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