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Pizza Crust Recipes

The nearest pizza delivery option is an hour from my home. The local supermarket isn’t much help, either, for a family with my necessarily low budget, so I often rely on this recipe to satisfy my family. Even after a long, chilly, outdoors workday, it is possible to put a couple of medium-sized pizzas together without much fuss.

This dough, though yeast-based, requires no rising time, and can be completed in fewer than twenty minutes. It is versatile enough to be converted into small loaves of bread, or bread sticks, and is cooperative with add-ins such as herbs, grated cheese, or vegetable bits. It is responsive to different proportions of whole wheat versus white flours, in varying degrees of fineness.

1 cup blood-warm, filtered water (95* to 100* F.)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt (unprocessed sea salt is best)
2 cups flour
Various toppings

Warm the water in a small saucepan over medium heat, until it feels neither warm nor cool when you dip a clean finger into it. Pour water into a medium sized mixing bowl, and sprinkle in the yeast, then let partially dissolve a few minutes before stirring. (Yeasts vary in texture and performance, with some getting sticky if not stirred right away, and others lumping together if not allowed to dissolve before being stirredso know your yeast.) Add flour and salt, stirring thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Depending on humidity levels and the kind(s) of flour you have chosen, a little more flour or a few drops of water may be in order. When the water-to-flour proportions are right, the dough should feel slightly sticky, yet you should be able to handle it lightly and quickly with slightly floured hands.

Whole-wheat flour takes longer to absorb liquid than does white flour, so stir a mixture including whole wheat a few moments longer than one without, before deciding if it is too wet.

Now, for the kneading. This does not have to be an arduous process, and if you enjoy kneading by hand, then sprinkle a little flour over your table, turn the dough out onto it, and have at it. I do not own a food processor, and do not always have time to knead properly the traditional waybut a friend shared an 1800’s trick of the trade that cuts minutes off the process, and gives beautiful results. Slash your lump of dough 400-500 strokes with a sharp knife, then proceed to shape it as usual.

I normally stretch and pat out two medium-small crusts on a jellyroll pan or large cookie sheet, rubbed thinly with oil and sprinkled with cornmeal. (With a fairly high proportion of whole grain in the dough, you can usually skip the oil and cornmeal.) This gives medium-thick crusts, but you can make yours any way you please. Prick at intervals with the tip of a knife, to prevent any air bubbles from expanding during baking. Bake the crusts, without toppings, for a few minutes at 400* F., until they are a light golden brown. This will prevent their absorbing much liquid from the toppings.

Arrange your toppings as desired, and bake for several minutes at 350* to 400* F., depending on the nature and amount of toppings. A pizza with sparse toppings does better at the higher temperature, while one piled thick with a sampling of many things generally appreciates the lower temperature. The average baking time is fifteen minutes.
When arranging toppings, you may wish to begin and end with cheese, as this will help cement the rest of the toppings to the crust.

Any leftover pizza re-heats nicely at low temperatures in a conventional oven (microwaving makes it tough and soggy), and partially baked, plain crusts freeze conveniently, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or freezer bags.