The Pizza Doughly Grail

I’ve been trying to make pro quality pizza dough at home for years using various recipes from cook books, TV shows and the web. Many of them call for a fifteen minute spin in a stand mixer, which I don’t have. Cook’s Illustrated has delivered me from dough frustration. I like their stuff because they test the heck out of every recipe to find the best possible outcome. This recipe takes a couple of minutes to make in a food processor with no hand kneading. It then goes into the fridge for a day or two. I have taken to making a couple of batches so there’s always some dough in the fridge ready to go. I use a pizza peel and stone, but have found that a metal pizza pan works just fine with this recipe.

Here’s a link to the Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but I’m copying it below because they sometimes move the recipes behind a pay wall.

From Cook’s Illustrated:

Why this recipe works:

Kneading our pizza dough’s ingredients in the food processor was quicker and just as efficient as using a stand mixer. To keep our Thin-Crust Pizza recipe from puffing as it cooked and to infuse it with flavor, we let it proof in the refrigerator for up to three days. Finally, placing our pizza stone as close to the upper heating element as possible crisped our Thin-Crust Pizza and browned it. (less)

Kneading our pizza dough’s ingredients in the food processor was quicker and just as efficient as using a stand mixer. To keep our Thin-Crust Pizza recipe from puffing as it cooked and to infuse it with flavor, we let it proof in the refrigera…(more)

Makes two 13-inch pizzas

Our preferred brand of whole-milk mozzarella is Dragone. You can shape the second dough ball while the first pizza bakes, but don’t top the pizza until right before you bake it. If you don’t have a baking stone, bake the pizzas on an overturned and preheated rimmed baking sheet. It is important to use ice water in the dough to prevent overheating the dough while in the food processor. Semolina flour is ideal for dusting the peel; using it in place of bread flour if you have it. The sauce will yield more than needed in the recipe; extra sauce can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to a month.

Ingredients:

Dough
3 cups (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour, plus more for work surface
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/3 cups ice water (about 10 1/2 ounces)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil , plus more for work surface
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

Sauce
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes , drained and liquid discarded
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cheese
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
8 ounces whole milk mozzarella , shredded (about 2 cups) (see note)

Instructions:

1. FOR THE DOUGH: In food processor fitted with metal blade, process flour, sugar, and yeast until combined, about 2 seconds. With machine running, slowly add water through feed tube; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand 10 minutes.

2. Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl and knead briefly on lightly oiled countertop until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.

3. FOR THE SAUCE: Process all ingredients in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to medium bowl or container and refrigerate until ready to use. (I tried this but it tasted more like a salsa to me, so I simmered it. I added balsamic vinegar and red wine to give it a more smoky flavor.)

4. TO BAKE THE PIZZA: One hour before baking pizza, adjust oven rack to second highest position (rack should be about 4 to 5 inches below broiler), set pizza stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide in half. Shape each half into smooth, tight ball. Place on lightly oiled baking sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray; let stand for 1 hour.

5. Coat 1 ball of dough generously with flour and place on well-floured countertop. Using fingertips, gently flatten into 8-inch disk, leaving 1 inch of outer edge slightly thicker than center. Using hands, gently stretch disk into 12-inch round, working along edges and giving disk quarter turns as you stretch. Transfer dough to well-floured peel and stretch into 13-inch round. Using back of spoon or ladle, spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce in thin layer over surface of dough, leaving 1/4-inch border around edge. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan evenly over sauce, followed by 1 cup mozzarella. Slide pizza carefully onto stone and bake until crust is well browned and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pizza halfway through. Remove pizza and place on wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Repeat step 5 to shape, top, and bake second pizza.

TOPPING TIPS: We like our Thin-Crust Pizza simply dressed with tomato sauce and handfuls of shredded mozzarella and Parmesan, but additional toppings are always an option–provided they’re prepared correctly and added judiciously. (An overloaded pie will bake up soggy.) Here are a few guidelines for how to handle different types of toppings:

HEARTY VEGETABLES Aim for a maximum of 6 ounces per pie, spread out in a single layer. Vegetables such as onions, peppers, and mushrooms should be thinly sliced and lightly sautéed (or microwaved for a minute or two along with a little olive oil) before using.

DELICATE VEGETABLES AND HERBS Leafy greens and herbs like spinach and basil are best placed beneath the cheese to protect them or added raw to the fully cooked pizza.

MEATS Proteins (no more than 4 ounces per pie) should be precooked and drained to remove excess fat. We like to poach meats like sausage (broken up into 1/2-inch chunks), pepperoni, or ground beef for 4 to 5 minutes in a wide skillet along with 1/4 cup of water, which helps to render the fat while keeping the meat moist.