I am always experimenting with making Pizza dough. My husband is a big fan of Roman style cracker thin dough while I like mine thin but toothsome more Neapolitan style. We built a Pizza Oven in our outdoor living space at our Beach house and love to invite people over for a day of Pizza and Beer. For Labor Day this year, I decided to try making Pizza in my home oven and found a recipe for cracker thin dough that did not require rising. Although it did use a little yeast, about half what I would normally use in a dough that I let rise, the emphasis was on how it was cooked. First off, the dough was rolled on a piece of parchment paper and put into the oven with the paper. The paper allows you to roll the dough very thin and although the paper burns and practically disintegrates while cooking, it is easy to slide the pizza into the oven and get it out. You cook the dough first for about 8 minutes in a hot 500 degree oven, with just a little olive oil and/or sauce, then add the cheese and other toppings and cook for about 2 minutes more. The result was a perfectly cooked Pizza that did not have a very flavorful crust in spite of my adding dry herbs to the dough. This recipe is good if you are in the mood for Pizza and don’t have the time to let the dough rise to develop its flavor profile.
makes TWO 12″ pizzas
3/4 cups (6 ounces) of water
1/2 teaspoon of active-dry yeast (if using instant yeast, you don’t need to dissolve it during the first step)
2 cups (10 ounces, by weight) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
optional: 1/2 tsp italian seasoning (or any dried herbs of your choice) – i like to work herbs into the dough, but it’s wonderful without the herbs, too – your choice!
1/2 cup marinara sauce (1/4 cup per pizza), either homemade or store-bought
3 cups of cheese (1.5 cups per pizza) – i used a blend of mozzarella + asiago
1 thinly sliced tomato, about 6 slices on each pizza
12 basil leaves, chopped, divided between the two pizzas
Making the dough:
About 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. if you have a baking stone, put it on a rack in the lower-middle part of the oven before preheating.
In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, heat the water until it feels barely lukewarm when you test it with your finger (if the water is so hot that you can’t leave your finger in it, wait for it to cool down). add the yeast to the water + use a fork or whisk to stir it into the water. set this aside for a few minutes + allow the yeast to dissolve. it’s ok if the yeast doesn’t bubble, but it should be entirely dissolved.
Measure out the flour into a large mixing bowl. add the salt + dried italian seasoning/herbs (if using) + use your hand or a whisk to combine.
Make a well in the center of the flour + pour in the water-yeast mixture. use your fingers or a wooden spoon to combine everything together.
When it comes together into a cohesive ball, turn it out onto the counter along with any extra flour in the bowl that hasn’t yet gotten worked in.
Knead the dough until all the flour is incorporated + the dough is smooth/elastic to the touch–about five minutes. the dough should still feel moist + just slightly tacky. if it’s sticking to your hands + counter-top like bubble gum, work in more flour one tablespoon at a time until it’s smooth + silky.
Divide the dough in two.
Shaping the dough:
Tear off two pieces of parchment paper roughly 12-inches wide. work one piece of the dough in your hands + form it into a large disk. lay the disk of dough on the parchment paper.
Working from the middle of the dough outwards, use the heel of your hand to gently press the dough outward until it’s about 1/4 of an inch thick or less. you can also use a rolling pin for this part. we like to make free form pies, but if you’d like a circular pie, you can trace a large circle on the back of the parchment to use as a guide.
Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Note: The dough will stick to the parchment paper, making it easier for you to roll out. you’ll bake the pizza right on the parchment paper. as it cooks, the dough will release from the parchment, + you can slide the paper out before serving.
Topping + baking the dough:
Spoon ONLY the sauce into the center of each pizza + use the back of a spoon to spread it out to the edges.
Using a pizza peel or the backside of a baking sheet, slide your pizza (still on the parchment) onto the baking stone in the oven. if you don’t have a baking stone, just bake it right on the baking sheet.
Bake for about 5 minutes, then rotate the pizza 180-degrees (most ovens have ‘hot spots’ + your pizza will bake unevenly if it’s not rotated). bake for another 3 minutes, then sprinkle the cheese + any other toppings over the top. bake for another 2-3 minutes until the edges are golden brown and crispy. if you like your cheese browned slightly, broil for a minute or so.
Remove your pizza from oven + let it cool on a wire rack. at this point, you can slide the parchment paper out from under the pizza. repeat with second pizza.
Let both pizzas cool for about five minutes + serve.