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Pizza Crust (One 12-inch or 14-inch Pizza),
or One Deep Dish Pan Pizza

Copyright © April 2, 2018 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.


The following Gourmet Recipe is included in my book: Grandpappy's Gourmet Cookbook.

Introduction

Pan Pizza If you make your own homemade pizzas, then you can create pizzas that appeal to everyone who will be eating it. The pan pizza on the right was divided into thirds because each person eating the pizza had their own preferences. One person did not want any toppings, and two people wanted their own unique combination of toppings. Therefore one-third of the pizza was dedicated to each person, and that person decorated their third of the pizza exactly the way they wanted it. When it was sliced, each person received one-third of the pizza and each person cut their third into three equal slices for easy eating. Therefore the pan pizza in the picture was sliced into nine equal pieces. The same concept can be used for two people, three people, four people, five people, or six people. Or you can make two pizzas and allocate them to each person based on how much pizza each person wants. (Note: The cast iron skillet in the picture has a bottom diameter of 11 inches and a top diameter of 13 inches.)

The crust of a pizza is one of the three critical parts of a pizza (crust, sauce, cheese).

Pizza toppings, on the other hand, may not be a critical ingredient because:
  1. Some people do not want any type of additional toppings on their "cheese" pizza.
  2. Some people can enjoy a pizza with or without any additional toppings.
  3. Some people will not eat a pizza unless it has the toppings they desire.
The crust is critical because its flavor significantly impacts the taste of the pizza. The crust needs to have a pleasant flavor that compliments the sauce, the cheese, and any toppings that may be on the pizza. The crust cannot be too sweet, like a piecrust, or too soft, like a yeast roll. The crust needs to be just firm enough to support the slice of pizza, and the crust needs to provide a chewing sensation that enhances the sauce and the cheese. This maximizes a person's pleasure as the pizza is eaten.

One easy way to evaluate the quality of a pizza crust is whether or not everyone eats the entire crust. If the crust does not have a delightful flavor all by itself, then once the sauce, cheese, and toppings have been eaten, and there is only a thin outer ring of crust remaining, many people will put the crust down and not eat it because it has no real flavor of its own. On the other hand, a gourmet pizza crust will be completely consumed by almost everyone who eats the pizza because the crust has its own delightful flavor that cannot be ignored.

If you decide to experiment with my gourmet pizza crust recipe, then please use the above test to see how well your family members like the crust. If there are no pieces of crust left on their plates then you will know that you have created a "gourmet pizza."

However, I have also included information on how to modify my gourmet crust recipe so that it is similar to some of the pizza crusts used by some of the popular pizza restaurants in the USA.


Pizza Crust (One 12-inch or 14-inch Pizza),
or One Deep Dish Pan Pizza

Instructions for a Deep Dish Pan Pizza

Follow the instructions below for a "Deep Dish" crust, and for a 12-inch pizza, but instead of using a round pizza pan, use a 10-inch to 12-inch diameter cast iron skillet. Use 1 teaspoon of canola oil to grease the bottom of the skillet and 1/2 inch up the sides of the skillet (do not use any cornmeal). Lay the rolled dough (after the first rise) completely across the bottom of the skillet until it touches the sides of the skillet, but do not press it up the sides of the skillet. Then follow the instructions below except bake the final pizza in the cast iron skillet. When the pizza is done, let it cool 4 minutes inside the skillet and then slide it out of the skillet onto a cutting board before slicing the pizza.

Instructions for a Traditional Round Pizza

Thin Medium Thick Deep Dish
Crust Thickness (pre-rise) 3/16 inch 1/4 inch 3/8 inch 1/2 inch
Crust Ingredients:
yeast (not instant rise) 1 pkg. 1 pkg. 1 pkg. 1 pkg.
warm water, 110°F 1/2 c. 3/4 c. 1 c. 1 c.
bread flour 1 1/2 c. 2 1/4 c. 3 c. 3 1/4 c.
granulated sugar 2 1/4 tsp. 3 tsp. 3 3/4 tsp. 4 tsp.
iodized salt 1/2 tsp. 3/4 tsp. 1 tsp. 1 tsp.
vegetable oil 3 tsp. 4 tsp. 5 tsp. 5 1/3 tsp.
Baking Information:
cornmeal, for dusting pan 1 1/2 T. 2 T. 2 1/2 T. None
oven temperature 450°F 450°F 450°F 500°F
minutes pre-bake crust 2 3 4 5
minutes baking pizza 10 - 12 12 - 15 13 - 16 12 - 14


Pizza Pan Data: 10-inch 12-inch 14-inch 16-inch
square inches 78.5 sq.in. 113.1 sq.in. 153.9 sq.in. 201.1 sq.in.
number of slices 6 slices 8 slices 12 slices 16 slices
square inches / slice 13.1 sq.in. 14.1 sq.in. 12.8 sq.in. 12.6 sq.in.
Toppings:
Pizza Sauce 1 c. 1 1/2 c. 2 1/8 c. 3 c.
Shredded Cheese 2 c. 3 c. 4 1/4 c. 6 c.

Pan Pizza Crust Pizza Crust Thickness: There is no standard for the final thickness of a pizza crust. Pizza crust thickness depends on how the dough is kneaded, and how long the dough is allowed to rise at each step in the process, and how the dough ball is made into a flat pizza crust (machine rollers, hand rolling pin, hand flattening, or tossing in the air). Medium thickness pizza crusts made by different restaurants will not be of the same exact average thickness and the thickness of those crusts can vary by as much as 25% from one restaurant to the next. However, this thickness is usually not visually obvious because the average medium pre-rise crust is 0.25 inches thick with a range between 0.20 inches to 0.30 inches. The above recipe will make a 12-inch pizza crust that will be about 15% thicker than the average restaurant pizza crust of the corresponding thickness. It will make a 14-inch pizza crust that will be about 15% thinner than the average restaurant pizza crust of the corresponding thickness.

The above recipe will yield one medium 12-inch crust or one medium 14-inch crust. Or the dough can be divided in half to yield two medium 10-inch crusts. Or the dough can be spread thinner to yield one thin 16-inch crust.

Pizza Crust Options:
  1. Grandpappy's Gourmet Pizza Crust: Use the above quantities of all the ingredients and follow the instructions below.
  2. Domino's Imitation Pizza Crust: For a medium crust pizza, increase the sugar to 3 1/2 teaspoons, and use cornmeal to dust the kneading surface.
  3. Little Caesar's Imitation Pizza Crust: For a medium crust pizza, increase the sugar to 5 teaspoons, and increase the salt to 1 1/2 teaspoons, and use cornmeal to dust the pizza pan.
  4. Papa John's Imitation Pizza Crust: For a medium crust pizza, increase the sugar to 4 1/4 teaspoons.
  5. Pizza Hut Imitation Pizza Crust: For a medium crust pizza, decrease the sugar to 1 teaspoon and use "Buttered Flavored Pam" spray to coat the top of the pizza crust to add flavor and to keep the edges of the crust from becoming too dry during baking. Thoroughly grease the pizza pan with oil instead of using cornmeal because the oil contributes to the “greasy” flavor of this pizza that Pizza Hut customers prefer.
Bread Flour: 100% bread flour is recommended. Bread flour will yield a crisper crust. If you use all-purpose flour then the crust will be chewier. If you desire a cornmeal crust then 1/4 of the bread flour may be replaced with cornmeal. If you desire a whole wheat crust then 1/2 of the bread flour may be replaced with whole wheat flour.

Rising: If you do not allow the raw dough to rise on the pizza pan before baking then huge air bubbles may form in the dough during baking and they will appear on the top crust of the pizza. Using a fork to prick the crust after rising and before baking can also help to minimize the problem of big air pockets on top of the cooked pizza.

Oil: Vegetable oil is normally used to make a pizza with a taste that is popular in the USA. However, extra light olive oil can be used instead.

Pizza Sauce (separate recipe on my website): The above recommended amounts of sauce are based on the diameter of the pizza and those amounts will yield a layer of sauce about 1/16 inch thick over the crust of the pizza to within 1/2 inch of its edge. The 1/2 inch edge provides a place to pick up the pizza with the hands without getting pizza sauce on the hands.

Cheese Topping: The type and amount of cheese is entirely a matter of personal preference. Some restaurants use a cheese blend ratio of between 1/2 to 2/3 finely shredded mozzarella cheese along with 1/2 to 1/3 finely shredded muenster cheese. A small amount of grated Parmesan cheese may also be added. The type of cheese and the amount of cheese is up to you. The above recommended amounts of shredded cheese are based on the diameter of the pizza and those amounts will yield a layer of melted cheese about 1/16 inch thick on the crust to within 1/2 inch of its edge. This is approximately the thickness of one slice of cheese. You may double the recommended amount if you prefer "double cheese" on your pizza and this will be a thickness of about two slices of cheese. (Note: Double cheese is usually used on deep dish pan pizzas.)

Other Toppings: Meat toppings should be cooked separately before putting them on the pizza. The amount of each topping will depend on the total number of toppings on the pizza. The toppings should not be piled up on top of the pizza. The toppings should be evenly mixed on top of the pizza and you should be able to see the cheese between some of the toppings. This allows the pizza, the cheese, and the toppings to cook evenly. Some optional other toppings include pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, ham, bacon, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, bell peppers, jalapeños, onions, tomatoes, olives (green or black), pineapple, or whatever appeals to you.

Pizza Pan: A round pan or a rectangular pan may be used. A perforated pan is recommended because it allows the oven heat to cook the bottom surface of the pizza.

Instructions: Crumble the yeast into 1/4 cup warm water with a pinch of sugar added and stir until the yeast is mixed with the water. Good yeast will become foamy and creamy in about 10 to 12 minutes. (Note: Some pizza crust recipes simply mix the yeast and the water with the flour and they omit the step of activating, or proofing, the yeast in warm water. A gourmet cook will not omit activating the yeast.)

In a large bowl mix one-half of the flour with all the sugar and the salt. Stir until the dry ingredients are blended together. Add the rest of the water, the oil, and the foaming yeast solution. Stir for at least 5 minutes. Gradually add more flour and stir until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a flat floured (or cornmeal) dusted surface, or onto wax paper. Gradually add flour and knead by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic and it does not stick to your fingers. Put in a bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place (such as inside your oven with the oven light on) for about 60 minutes or until doubled in size.

(Note: Instead of kneading the dough some pizza crust recipes recommend slapping the dough. Put the dough ball in your left hand and use your right hand to slap down on the dough. Turn your hands over while holding the dough and take control of the dough ball with your right hand and use your left hand to slap the dough. Repeat many, many times, on both sides of the dough, holding the dough in one hand and slapping with the other hand.)

(Note: Some pizza crust recipes recommend putting the dough in an airtight container in the refrigerator for between 1 to 3 days before proceeding to the next step.)

Punch the dough down. Use a rolling pin and flatten the dough on a floured (or cornmeal) dusted surface, or on a piece of wax paper, until it is 1/4 inch thick (more or less depending on the thickness of crust you like) and the approximate size of your pizza pan. Lightly dust the pizza pan with cornmeal (or oil the pan for a “greasier” pizza). Transfer the dough to the pizza pan and adjust its size by hand until it covers the pizza pan. Form a slightly raised outer edge all around the crust to help keep the sauce and toppings on the crust. Cover the pizza pan and let the dough rise 30 minutes in a warm place. After the dough has risen brush the top of the crust lightly with oil. Prick the dough every 1/2 inch with a fork to help prevent air bubbles.

Bake in a preheated 450°F oven for the number of minutes shown in the table at the beginning of this recipe. The crust should turn a light tan color. Pre-baking, or par-baking, helps the dough to set and it helps prevent the sauce from soaking into the dough which can result in an unevenly baked crust.

Remove the crust from the oven and spread pizza sauce evenly to within 1/2 inch of the outside edge of the dough. Then add the cheese evenly over the sauce. Finally add the other toppings that you like.

Bake in a preheated 450°F oven for the number of minutes shown in the table or until the cheese is melted and turns a golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 3 to 5 minutes and then cut into slices with a rolling wheel pizza cutter. (Note: If you do not allow the pizza to cool for a few minutes before cutting and eating then you may cause pizza burns on the roof of your mouth.)



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Grandpappy's e-mail address is: RobertWayneAtkins@hotmail.com