Pizza is one of, if not my favorite food.  I could eat it daily…  Actually, I WOULD eat it daily if I wasn’t trying to maintain a decent level of physical condition.  My wife and I relocated a few years ago and we have not been able to find a really good local pizza shop.  I mean… there aren’t many “bad” pizzas BUT, there are FAR fewer GOOD pizzas and I’m tired of spending $25+ on so-so pizza.

So, I’m on a mission to learn how to make my own crust based solely on ingredients found at Aldi’s. I’ve tried making crusts many times and I typically end up with some dense, doughy brick.  It wouldn’t piss me off so much if I didn’t spend an exuberant amount of time making the dough and then ending up with some inedible monstrosity.

Today, I’m trying a new method and it can be found here: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/homemade-pizza-crust-recipe/.  This method is totally different than any previous failures… So, it has to work… right?  (Note) I’m pulling the directions directly from Sally’s site.

Ok… Here. We. Go!

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons Yeast (1 standard packet).  We are Aldi’s shoppers so, we used “Bakers Corner” yeast,
  • 1 and 1/3 cups (320ml) warm water (105-115F degrees)  (We used this EXACT amount and tested the temperature and it was perfect)
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (440g) unbleached all-purpose flour.  (We did not have “unbleached” so, we used regular old bleached. We also used this EXACT amount and it was perfect)
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon (13g) granulated sugar
  • cornmeal, for dusting pan (I didn’t have any cornmeal, used regular flour as a light dusting on the stones)

 

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, combine the yeast and warm water. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is foamy and dissolved. This is called “proofing” the yeast. If the yeast doesn’t dissolve, your yeast is dead. Start again with active yeast. Add flour, olive oil, salt, and sugar. Mix by hand or with the dough hook on low speed for 1 minute.

How we did:  This was pretty straight forward. Once I figured out (Ok, my wife showed me) how to use the damn mixer, it went as directed.

  1. Once all of the ingredients are mixed, knead for 7 minutes by hand or with your dough hook on low-medium speed. If your dough is too wet, add up to 1/4 cup more flour. After kneading, your dough should be smooth and elastic. Poke it with your finger – if it slowly bounces back, your dough is ready to rise. If not, keep kneading.

How we did:  Dammit, I forgot to poke the dough to see if it slowly bounced back…  Too late!  It’s been rising for an hour.  This step was also pretty straight forward (assuming you remember to poke the dough with your finger).

  1.  Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large mixing bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. Turn it over to coat all sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm environment (about 75F-80F).

2.  For the warm environment, I heat up my oven to 200F. Then, I turn the oven off and keep the door slightly ajar (I opened it wide for this picture). This will be a warm environment for your dough to rise. After about 30 minutes, I close the oven door to trap warmish air inside with the rising dough.

How we did:  I really liked the oven idea (good one Sally!). 

3.  Depending on your type of yeast, your dough will have doubled in size in about 1 – 2 hours. I use Red Star Platinum and my dough took 1 hour, 20 minutes.

How we did:  Our dough doubled in size in just about 60 minutes.  I only was able to close the oven door for about 15 minutes as the dough rose really fast. 

1 Hour Later

4.  Punch the dough down to release the air.

5.  Divide the dough into two. Roll each half into a ball and let rest in two separate bowls lightly covered for 15 minutes. You may freeze one of the dough balls at this point to use at a later time. Please read above in the post for freezing instructions.

6.  Preheat oven to 475F degrees. Allow to heat for at least 30 full minutes. Every inch of your oven needs to be very, very hot. Grease and dust 2 baking sheets with nonstick spray or with olive oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal (preferred for flavor and texture) or flour (not preferred). Please read above in the post for why cornmeal is preferred.

7.  Prepare your favorite toppings.

                           Our toppings of choice:

  • Appleton Spicy Bit Size Dry Salami (diced)
  • Happy Valley Mozzarella Cheese
  • Hot Banana Peppers (I think I bought these at the dollar store)

8.  After 15 minutes, flatten each ball of dough 1 at a time on a lightly floured surface or on a silicone baking mat. You could also do this directly on your cornmeal lined pizza pan. Flatten into a 12-inch round circle, flattening and stretching the dough. If using a pizza stone, place the dough directly on baker’s peels dusted with cornmeal.

9.  Lift the edge of the dough up to create a lip around the edges. I simply pinched the edges up to create the rim like this. To prevent the filling from making your pizza crust soggy, brush the top lightly with olive oil. Using your fingers, push dents into the surface of the dough to prevent bubbling. Let rest for 15 minutes before topping.

How we did:  We didn’t use a rolling pin to flatten our dough.  I gently moved the dough with my fingers to the circle(ish) shape.  I think it’s worth the time to go slow and not push out the trapped air within the dough.  The dough then has to rest AGAIN for 15 minutes. 

“Boy, that dough gets tired easily”  – My Wife’s dough humor.

10.  Top with your favorite toppings and bake for 12-15 minutes. For the last minute, I move the oven rack to the top rack to really brown the edges. That’s optional.

How we did:  We made 2 pizzas and only wanted to bake 1 at a time.  I’ve read that in small ovens this is best to ensure the high heat is not decreased rapidly between 2 items.  Easy Peasy.

11.  Slice hot pizza and serve immediately. Store leftover pizza covered tightly in the refrigerator and reheat as you prefer. Baked pizza slices may be frozen up to 1 month.

 

The Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 – 8oz cans of Great Value Tomato Sauce
  • Garlic Powder
  • Ground Cayenne Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Reggano Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 T Sugar
  • Salt to taste

The sauce is really made to taste and I did not measure the ingredients other than the sugar.  We really like a spicy sauce so, we go heavy on the Cayenne.  Also, can you really ever have TOO much Parmesan?  Don’t be silly.

So, how did it turn out?

O.M.G. This is possible the best pizza crust I’ve EVER had…  It’s incredibly light and fluffy with a crispy exterior.  Holy cow, I don’t know that we will be needing to order pizza out again any time soon!!

(I think I’ll do a future post on the cost breakdown of these two pizzas. It has to be incredibly cheap.)

          

Sally, you’re a BAD lady!!