Monday, February 28, 2011

Thin Crust Pizza & Sauce

I did something crazy on Saturday...

Had 16 middle school girls in my house!

And to make it more fun... we did this:

 Made our own pizzas!

We all had a blast and it went really, really smoothly!  No pizza crusts stuck to the ceiling, nothing smashed on the floor (aside from one grape), no burnt pizzas or fires, and no shortage of food or fun!

Anticipating the entire volleyball team including all 4 coaches to come, I prepped enough dough (5 batches) and sauce (2 batches) to make 22 personal-size pizzas.  It was incredibly easy, quick to make (two days before the party), and wonderfully scrumptious!  I would like to try it with whole-wheat crust, similar to my previous posting of Herbed Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough, but for the palate of 11 and 12 year olds, this was perfect.

The recipe I used is of course, from Test Kitchen (technically Cook's Illustrated Magazine), and make 2, 13" pizzas.  The dough can always be frozen if you want to save one for later!

3 c. bread flour, plus more for the work surface
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. instant or rapid rise yeast (I used 1 tsp regular)
1 1/2 c. ice water
1 T. vegetable oil, plus more for work surface
1 1/2 tsp. table salt

In food processor fitted with a metal blade, process flour, sugar and yeast until combined, about 2 seconds.  With machine running, slowly add the water through the feed tube until no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds.  Let dough stand for 10 minutes.
Add oil and salt to the food processor and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears the sides of the workbowl, 30-60 seconds.  Remove dough and knead briefly on a lightly oiled countertop until smooth, about 1 minute.  Shape dough into a tight ball and place in a large lightly oiled bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or up to 3 days.

1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and liquid discarded
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. table salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper

Process all ingredients in the food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds and refrigerate until ready to use.

*NOTE*: I baked at 425 (since parchment paper can't go in a 500 degree oven) on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper so that the transfer for each individual pizza was cleaner... it worked just fine, but did not give a crispy crust like following these directions will.

One hour before baking, adjust oven rack to second highest position and set pizza stone on rack, heat oven to 500 degrees.  Remove dough from fridge and divide in half.  Shape each half into smooth tight balls and place on lightly oiled baking sheet, covering loosely with plastic wrap coated with oil.  Let sit one hour.
Coat 1 ball of dough generously with flour and gently flatten into an 8" disk, leaving 1" of outer edge slightly thicker than center.  Using hands, gently stretch disk into a 13" round, working along edges and giving the disk a quarter turn as you stretch.  Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce over surface of dough, leaving a 1/4" border.  Add on cheese and desired toppings, making sure not to add more than 4-6 ounces.  Bake 10-12 minutes on preheated pizza stone.