Lois asked me to "guest blog" here, and I was more than happy to oblige, as I certainly haven't been posting much over at www.beerbybike.com lately.
Many months ago, I decided to make Friday night "pizza night." The idea was based on happy childhood memories of skipping out on boring Friday dinners at home to beg at the backdoor of a neighbor. This neighbor was lucky enough to have a weekly pizza night every Friday. And my brother and I were lucky enough to get a slice of the action. The neighbor would always order from one the local shops (Trevose Pizza or Brothers Pizza, if you're from Lower Bucks County, you may know how good floppy, greasy pizza can be), so at first, we tried the same. The local shop here is good, but buying a pie every week is an expense that we didn't need to have. So I decided to try to make my own.
I started with a basic no-yeast pizza dough recipe (like this one). This was fine, though merely a step above white bread with ketchup and Velveeta. The dough it yielded, combined with my lack of understanding of the process, led to a part biscuity, part gummy crust. Not recommended, to say the least. I played around with ingredients, flours, moisture levels, etc, but the dough didn't get much better.
But thanks to the internet, and a google reader shared item (thanks Bryan P!), I think I finally perfected it. Or rather, I've found the perfect dough recipe. Using the info and recipe shared at Brew.Cook.Pair.Joy, I succeeded in making perhaps the best dough yet. I'll let you click over there for the recipe and the proper credit. I will, however, offer some tips that I've found that can help you make the best crispy thin crust pizza you've possibly ever had.
Some things that you may not have lying around, that seriously help the process: A pizza stone, parchment paper, and corn meal. If you have these, you're in for a treat.
The first trick is getting the oven hot. No, really hot. As hot as it can go. Mine goes up to 500, and it works like a charm. And LEAVE THE STONE IN THERE. This was my first mistake. I would roll the dough out on the cold stone, and then put it in the oven. This is no good. The cold dough needs to be slide onto a hot stone, just like in the pizza shops. And the trick to making this happen, unless you have a fancy wooden pizza putter-inner, is the parchment paper. Roll the dough out on paper, and then slide the paper on the hot stone. I use an upside down cookie sheet to help with the transfer.
The other trick is the corn meal. Before you roll out the dough, sprinkle the cornmeal on the paper. It helps the loaded up dough slid without warping, and it leads to a nice crusty coating one the underside of the pie.
And once you've put it in the oven, watch it closely! It should only take 5 minutes or so. And the mozzarella will scorch easily, so hover over that oven!
As for ingredients, I haven't play around with much yet. I just use spaghetti sauce (made by Lois, of course) and shredded mozzarella. (Though we did try a mexican pizza that was very interesting.) The point is, once you have a perfect crust, put whatever you want on it. Because now you're building on a solid foundation! Enjoy!