Monday, April 18, 2016

Cracker-crust pizza

It's amazing to me how pizza varies so much from region to region, and how much I love each and every type. While Chicago is famous for its deep dish, the Midwest is also known for another pizza on the complete opposite spectrum: cracker-crust pizza.

If you've never had cracker crust it's exactly what it sounds like--super thin and crispy pizza that holds up to its toppings and snaps like a cracker. I'm relatively new to this style of pizza as well, but man I love it.

Not only is it delicious, it's also the easiest dough you'll ever make and comes together in minutes! The yeast-less dough needs only a short rest before you're ready to roll it out. And yes, I said "roll" it out. Unlike other pizza dough, which can be difficult to handle, you roll this one out between 2 pieces of parchment paper to an exact diameter. That makes it 100% easy and 100% idiot proof.

Rolling out your ball of dough between 2 pieces of parchment. Drawing a 12" circle directly on the parchment paper makes it super easy to make your pizza the exact size. Your dough will be super thin, but that's the way we roll!

Lift off the top piece of parchment, then lightly roll up the sides to create a small rim.

Once you've rolled out your dough, top it with pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice. You keep the dough on the bottom parchment paper, since you'll use this to transfer your pizza directly onto your pizza stone. (Yes, you keep the parchment on the pizza--I promise it won't burn in your oven and it makes it a million times easier to transfer your pizza to the oven!)
Salami and onion
What's amazing to me is not only how thin the crust is, but how crispy it remains no matter what you top it with. Sure, it got a touch soft when we put fresh tomatoes on top, but it was still delicious. I've made a ton of different flavor combinations, and they all work really well with the cracker crust.
The salami pizza cooked--crispy and delicious!
Fresh heirloom tomato and basil

Artichoke hearts and green olives (and a few pepperonis)

So if you've never had cracker-crust pizza before, I can't stress enough how awesome it is. And while I love me a deep dish oozing with cheese, this pizza just hits the spot sometimes.

Buen Provecho,

Cracker Crust Pizza, from Lottie + Doof (adapated from the cookbook The New Midwestern Table)

Note: I love using Trader Joes fresh pizza sauce (not the canned one, the one in the refrigerated section). I always keep a container of sauce and a block of mozzarella in the freezer for when a pizza craving hits. If you want a recipe for fresh pizza sauce, the Lottie + Doof link has you covered.

Also, make sure to check out my previous post (with a recipe for quick pizza dough). It has a bunch of great little tricks when making pizza at home.

Cracker-Crust Pizza (from The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen)

Pizza Dough - makes three 12" pizzas
3/4 cup cool water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

pizza sauce (I like 1/4 cup sauce per pizza)
mozzarella (I like 3 to 4 ounces of cheese per pizza)
extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

Topping ideas
fresh basil leaves
onions, sliced
mushrooms, sliced
green or black olives, sliced
artichoke hearts
banana peppers
heirloom tomatoes (though it'll make your crust a bit softer)

  1. For the pizza dough: pour the water, oil, salt, and sugar into a large bowl. Add 1 cup of the flour and whisk until smooth. Switching to a wooden spoon, gradually add the remaining flour, stirring until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead until it is smooth and supple, about 5 minutes. Divide the dough into three equal pieces, shape each one into a rough disk, cover with a cloth, and let rest on a board for at least 30 minutes (and up to 3 hours) before rolling.
  2. Set a pizza stone on a rack on the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 500°F (I like to heat it for at least 30 minutes, longer if possible.)
  3. Cut out 6 pieces of parchment paper. Draw a 12" circle on 3 of them.
  4. Roll the pizza dough: once the dough has rested, roll one portion of dough between two pieces of parchment paper, making sure the top piece has the 12" circle facing up. Roll your dough very thin until it reaches 12" in diameter.
  5. Peel off the top layer of parchment. Fold over the edges of the crust and pinch the edge into a small roll, as you would crimp a pie (see pictures above).
  6. Brush the dough lightly with olive oil, and then spread the top with sauce (1/4 cup), cheese (3-4 ounces), and toppings.
  7. Slip a pizza peel beneath the paper and transfer the pizza to the pizza stone in the oven (keeping the parchment on the bottom of the pizza!). Bake until browned on top and slightly charred on the edges, 15 to 18 minutes.
  8. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board, swiping the paper out from underneath the pizza. Cut the pizza into small squares and serve immediately. Repeat the process to make two more pizzas.


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