I love having the luxury (and I know that it is a luxury) of time for my foodie explorations. But when we have visitors, I don’t want to spend all my time in the kitchen. So sometimes I have to come up with something good that’s also expedient. (We can’t have barbequed chicken from the grocery store EVERY night!)
A couple of days ago I wanted to make pizza for dinner, so I started the dough 2 hours ahead of time, like you would. We like thin crusts, so I used the recipe from my Turkish Pizza post. After an hour, no rising. I had proofed the yeast, so I knew it wasn’t that. It was a bit cool in the house, but I would still expect SOME action. I was upset for 2 reasons: One, my dough ALWAYS works; and two, we were going to a 7 pm movie and I was on a timeline! (Since you ask, it was The Monuments Men.)
I recalled that I had a recipe for a quicker dough recipe, specifically for a thin crust pizza. I found it (I save recipes to PAGES on my ipad, but that’s another post) and, sure enough, pizza in about a half hour. Here’s the recipe. I think it is from Food.com, but I’ve had it a while so I’m not positive.
2-1/4 tsp. yeast (one envelope)
1/4 tsp. sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Set the oven to preheat to 500F, slide the rack into the topmost position, and put your pizza stone or other baking pan on it. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Mix the salt and flour in a bowl. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix until dough forms a ball. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let the dough rest under a clean linen towel or a bowl while you prepare the toppings. We grated some fresh mozzarella, julienned a few sun-dried tomatoes and sliced a small log of chêvre cheese.
Now, here is my method for baking pizza. Many recipes recommend dusting your pan with cornmeal so that your crust doesn’t stick. Mostly I end up with a baked on crust studded with cornmeal. Instead, I cut out a circle of parchment paper the size of my pizza stone. I roll out the dough onto the paper on the counter, and arrange my toppings.
The jar of pizza sauce in the back of my fridge bit the dust a while ago, and I was out of homemade, so I opened a jar of tomato-based pasta sauce (the only bottled sauce I use is Classico), spread a thin layer of it onto the dough, then arranged the toppings on top. (Don’t put the sun-dried tomatoes on top. They turn into burned blistery things!)
By this time your oven should be up to or near temperature. When it is at 500F, carefully remove the stone or pan and put it on a heatproof surface. THEN, I use a big cake spatula and my hand (if I had a pizza peel I would use that, or you can use a rimless cookie sheet) to put under the pizza and transfer it onto the stone or pan. Put it back on the top rack of the oven and set your timer for 8 minutes.
After about 8 minutes, open the oven and carefully lift an edge of the dough. If it is browning, slowly pull the parchment paper out from under the pizza. If it isn’t browning yet, leave it another minute or so. After the paper is out, continue baking the pizza another 3-5 minutes or until the toppings look done.
Obviously this is not one of those thin crusts with big airy pockets, like at some better pizza establishments. But pretty good for half an hour!
PS: Apologies for the huge font in the title. Can’t seem to change it.