Getting a pizza crust with a crisp exterior and tender interior in a home oven. Commerical ovens, brick-fired ovens or tandoors can go upto 900 degrees F. The pizzas bake for a very short span of time – three to four minutes, and come out just right.
The flours used are usually high-gluten (like bread flour, which is all purpose flour with added gluten). Gluten fibers are what make the dough ‘stretchy’ and the bread ‘chewy’. A high-gluten flour takes longer to cook than a low-gluten one. In a home oven that can range from 10-15 minutes, yielding a tough crust.
Cook’s Illustrated magazine has a series where they test variations of the same dish in their kitchen and come up with the “best recipe”. They are the folks who host the fabulous TV show America’s Test Kitchen on PBS.
Find ways to hamper gluten formation.
1. Knead it as little as possible.
Our tests proved that a great pizza crust depends more on tenderness and crispness than crumb structure, so we didn’t need to spend much time kneading the dough to develop gluten (which gives bread chew). In fact, we found that a food processor made quick work of our dough, mixing it in just two minutes. We also found we could shape the dough right out of the food processor, eliminating one of the two rises most bread recipes require.
2. Use low-gluten flour. They used a mixture of all-purpose flour and cake flour. Cake flour is all purpose flour plus cornstarch.
Our solution was to use 1 part cake flour to 2 parts all-purpose flour, a combination that made the dough more tender. Our pizza also stayed light and tender after baking for 10 minutes in a 500 degree home oven (pizza in a commercial 800-degree oven cooks in less than 4 minutes.
3. Use a baking stone (or get unglazed quarry tiles really cheap from the home improvement store or a tile store). It gives a crisper lighter crust.
We copied the recipe from The Best Recipe at the bookstore, and adapted it to make a whole wheat version. We shouldn’t have bothered, ‘cos Nic @ Baking Bites had posted the regular pizza crust on her blog.
Plus, we found the whole wheat recipe from Cook’s Illustrated‘s March 2007 issue with step by step instructions HERE.
Swiss Chard and Fava bean Pizza with Provolone cheese on one half.
Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
From Cook’s Illustrated - March 2007.
Makes two 12-inch Pizzas
FOR THE CRUST
1.25 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup water (8 ounces), room temperature
0.5 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (2.5 ounces), plus extra for dusting work surface and peel
** we usually replace this with whole wheat pastry flour
0.75 cup whole wheat flour (3.75 ounces)
1.5 cups cake flour (6 ounces)
** or 3 tablespoons cornstarch and all purpose flour to total 1.5 cups
1.5 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, set pizza stone on oven rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees.
2. In liquid measuring cup, whisk yeast into water to dissolve. In food processor fitted with metal blade (or bread machine bowl), process flours, salt, and sugar until combined, about 5 seconds. With machine running, slowly add liquid through feed tube; continue to process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. (If after 1 minute dough is sticky and clings to blade, add 1 to 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and continue processing. If dough appears dry and crumbly, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water and process until dough forms ball.)
3. Divide dough in half and shape into smooth, tight balls. Place on floured counter or baking sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray and let rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
4. TO SHAPE AND COOK THE PIZZAS: When dough balls have doubled in size, dust dough liberally with flour and transfer balls to well-floured work surface. Press one ball into 8-inch disk. Using flattened palms, gently stretch disk into 12-inch circle, working along outer edge and giving disk quarter turns. (Since this dough is not
stretchy, we find it easier to roll it out. If it bounces back, cover and let it rest for a few minutes.)
5. Pierce crust with a fork and add toppings (for topping ideas and sequence, see THIS post)
6. Lightly flour pizza peel, then transfer pizza to peel. Slide onto stone and bake about 10 minutes.
Or bake for 5 minutes, add cheese and bake five more minutes.
If using a convection oven, reduce the baking time by a couple of minutes.
(If you don’t want to burn yourself while putting it in and taking it out with a peel, put the pizza on a perforated pizza pan and place it on the baking stone. As in this picture.)
7. Repeat to shape, top, and bake second pizza.
Wicked Whole Wheat Pizza Crust goes to Zorra @ 1x umrühren bitte for World Day of Bread, which is today.