no-knead thin-crust pizza dough

I LOVE this pizza dough recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. It’s a no-knead (or maybe just a tiny knead) dough, so you don’t develop the gluten structure, which means that it creates a tender yet crisp crust.

You don’t have to have a baking stone/pizza stone to make this, but I like the way the crust turns out so much better on the stone. If you don’t have one, just use a flat baking sheet in its place. Also, I usually substitute half of the flour with whole wheat flour. Honestly, I think it tastes better made with all white flour, but I prefer the health benefits of whole wheat. It’s still amazing as a whole wheat crust – just a bit denser.

Although making any bread means a lot of waiting time, this isn’t too bad. I usually mix the dough the day before I want to serve the pizza, and put it in the fridge until 1.5 hrs before I want to serve dinner. Then, it’s just a few steps within that 1.5 hours, and you can do other things while the dough rests and rises. It’s a perfect meal for a night when I have other responsibilities.

The recipe makes a 10-inch pizza or 2 7-inch pizzas, and making them bigger can make them impossible to handle. I’ve hosted a few dinner parties of individual pizzas for up to 10 people, and I still recommend making the 7-inch pies – it works well if people can each take a quarter of a pie as they come out.

Ingredients:
3/4 cp plus 1 tb all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cp water at room temp
4 tsp olive oil

1. 1 hour before shaping, mix the dough: in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, and sugar. Whisk in the salt (doing it this way keeps it from killing the yeast). Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the water into it. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to gradually stir the flour into the water until all the flour is moistened and a dough just begins to form, about 20 sec. It should come away from the bowl but stick to it a little, and be rough looking, not smooth. Do not overmix or the dough will get sticky.

2. Let the dough rise: Pour the oil into a 2-cup or larger bowl. With oiled fingers, place the dough in the bowl and turn it to just coat it with the oil. Let it sit at room temperature for an hour or until doubled. For best flavor development, make the dough at least 6 hrs or up to 24 hrs ahead of time, and let sit for 30 minutes, then refrigerate until an hour before you want to use it.

3. Prepare your toppings.

4. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees 1 hr before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone directly on it before preheating.

5. Shape the pizza and let it rise: With oiled fingers, lift the dough out of the bowl, and pour the leftover oil onto the pizza pan, spreading it with your free hand. If this makes a skimpy layer of oil, add more (this is what keeps your pizza from sticking to the pan). If you are making 2 7-inch pies, divide the dough now. Set the dough on the pan and press it down gently to deflate it. Shape it into a smooth round by tucking under the edges. If there are any holes, knead it VERY lightly until smooth. Allow the dough to sit for 15 minutes, covered, to relax it. Using your fingertips, press the dough from the center to the outer edge to stretch it to a 10-in or 7-in circle, leaving the outer edge 1/2 in thicker to form a lip. I like to lightly tap my fingers from center to outer edge, barely stretching the dough, and more moving it. If it resists stretching, you have over-mixed it – cover it and let it sit for a few minutes. Brush the dough with any remaining olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 45 minutes, until light and slightly puffy.

6. Set the pan directly on the hot stone and bake for 5 minutes.

7. Add your toppings, and place pizza on stone to bake for 5 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned across the bottom.

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