Pizza 101: The Perfect Crust
Pizzas are believed to have originated in Naples, Italy as a simple breakfast snack for laborers, with the original form very close to what today call Pizza Margherita. These flatbreads topped with locally available veggies, cheese, and a whole variety of other items have taken the world by a storm. Today, you can order a pizza with every topping imaginable, including anchovies and pineapple.
Pizzas are now found on the menu of every self-respectable restaurant. 13% of Americans eat pizza every day and around 350 slices of pizza are eaten every second in the USA.
The crust is one of the essential components of pizza. There are hundreds of ways how crusts can be made, all depending on whether you want it crunchy or thin. Similarly, there is no end to the permutation and combination of toppings that go with the crust. This means that there are hundreds of pizzas out there and finding the perfect one can be quite a task for a non-gourmet.
But, pizzas are no more a restaurant delicacy and you can always make your very own pizza at home according to your preferences. People have mastered the art of making the perfect homemade pizzas without the large commercial ovens and talented chefs. You should start with the most important component — the crust. Here is how to make the perfect one.
For making the perfect crust that satisfies your pizza cravings, here is all that you need.
- Three-fourth cups of warm water. Ensure that the temperature is not more than 100 F
- Two tablespoons of granulated sugar
- One tablespoon of active dry yeast
- One tablespoon of olive oil (also some oil for greasing)
- One tablespoon of salt
- Two cups of all-purpose flour. You can also use plain flour.
Making the perfect crust involves four major steps: forming the mixture, kneading the dough, letting it rise, and spreading it on the pizza pan. Let us see in detail each step and its significance in the process.
Forming the mixture
- Add the warm water to a bowl and add two tablespoons of granulated sugar to it. Swirl the mixture well so that the sugar doesn’t sit at the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle one tbsp of active dry yeast on top.
- Once the mixture becomes foamy, add one tbsp of salt and one tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. You can also use butter or even vegetable oil instead of olive oil.
- Then add two cups of all-purpose flour to the mixture. Note that two cups of flour is enough for one pizza crust.
- Use your fingertips to swirl and mix the mixture in the bowl until it all starts coming together and forms a dough. Clean the side of your bowl and make sure that everything is well mixed.
Kneading the dough
- Once it forms the shape of a loose dough-like structure, turn the mixture on your countertop and start kneading the mixture. There is no set time for which this has to be kneaded, just make sure that it forms a smooth dough.
- Keep kneading until all the small pieces are incorporated into your dough. If you feel that it is getting dry, you can use some dry flour or a little bit of oil to grease your palms. Make sure that you do not knead it too slowly, otherwise, it would stick to your hands and the countertop.
Let the dough rise
- Spread some olive oil in the same bowl in which you had mixed your dough. Then, put the dough inside and coat the dough with olive oil. This is done so that it does not dry as it rises. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and place the bowl in a warm spot to rise. This might require between 90 and 120 minutes.
- Once it rises to almost double its size, it is ready to be spread on the pizza pan. You can use any pizza pan you can get your hands on. If you do not have it, you can always use a cookie sheet.
Spread the dough
- Pour two tbsp of olive oil on the pizza pan and spread it evenly all around the pan so that there is an even coating of oil.
- Then place your risen dough at the center of the pan and start spreading out the dough using your fingertips to make sure that it covers the entire pan. Make sure you do not tear the dough or stretch too much, forming holes. You can keep spreading the dough until it is around 15 inches in diameter.
- Press it gently around the edges so that it is not uneven. The edges should not be too thin or too thick. A thin edge might not hold your toppings well, whereas a thick one would become chewy and not blend well with the toppings. Thus, you have to be careful about the edges so that they are ideal in thickness.
- You need to fork your spread-out crust to form a bunch of holes in the crust. This is done to ensure that the dough does not rise when baked.
All you have to do next is to add some pizza sauce (or other sauces that fancy your taste buds) along with your favorite toppings — capsicum, tomatoes, corn, olives, jalapeños, and others. Choose your favorite cheese, and although mozzarella cheese is widely used, you can also use cheddar cheese, pepper jack, or something more exotic. Shred or grate it on a plate and spread it evenly over the dough.
Bake the pizza for about 15 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit and you will get a homemade pizza with the perfect crust. Make sure you do not char the crust. If the crust is thin, you can reduce these 15 minutes to 10-12 minutes to ensure it’s just the right doneness.
The advancement of home cooking technology has made the perfect pizza crust available in every part of the world. You don’t need anything except very simple ingredients and some know-how to make crunchy, tasty pizza crusts that will keep you salivating.
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