Easy no-rise pizza crust (anytime)

March 26, 2008

My kids are no fans of Boboli — when I suggest pizza for supper, M. invariably asks if we can make the crust ourselves. This conversation usually takes place around 5:30 p.m., which would make a traditional pizza dough out of the question. There wouldn’t be enough time for the yeast to do its business. Luckily we live in St. Louis, land of the thin-crust pizza, and this recipe (modified from an old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook) is fast and easy and very versatile. Best of all, it makes enough for two 12-inch pizzas, so it’ll feed a hungry family. Or, if you’re a not-so-hungry small family, keep the extra half in the fridge (in a lightly oiled, covered container) for a few days until the urge for pizza strikes again.

M. prefers his pizza with cheese only, no sauce; his dad likes a white pizza with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses and zucchini. Whatever your preference, be sure not to overload the crust with toppings, as it will get soggy in the middle.

Thin-crust pizza

Crust:

1 pkg (2 ¼ tsp.) active dry yeast

1 cup warm water (105-115° F)

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

Dissolve the yeast in warm water in mixing bowl. With a wooden spoon, stir in one cup of the flour. Add the olive oil, sugar and salt and stir until smooth. Add the remaining flour and stir vigorously 20 strokes. Let rest, covered with a damp towel, for 5 minutes.

Topping:

Shredded mozzarella cheese (the amount is up to you — we use roughly 1 1/2 cups)

1 8-oz. can tomato sauce

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Optional toppings: A small scattering of two or three of these: prosciutto or Canadian-style bacon, browned ground beef or sausage, pepperoni, sliced artichokes, olives, fresh basil leaves, diced tomato, sliced onion, sliced mushrooms, chopped red pepper, goat cheese, pineapple, etc.

Grated Parmesan cheese or Provel cheese (just enough for a thin layer over the toppings)

Preheat the oven to 425° F. Sprinkle cornmeal on a heated pizza stone and place it in the cool oven (or grease a 12-inch pizza pan or cookie sheet, but don’t put it in the oven). With oiled hands, divide the dough in half and shape one half into an 11-inch circle on a floured wooden pizza peel or on the pan. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Spoon on half the sauce. Top with the other ingredients and sprinkle with Parmesan or Provel cheese. If using a pizza stone, slide the crust from the peel onto the hot stone. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the toppings are cooked through.

If you’re making two pizzas, repeat the steps above; you’ll have enough sauce to cover both crusts. If you’re only making one pizza, the extra sauce will keep alongside the dough in the fridge for a couple of days.

To make calzone, press out the dough as above, but cover half the dough with cheese, sauce and toppings, using slightly less than you would for a pizza. Carefully fold the empty half over, sealing the edge with a fork. Bake 25-30 minutes.

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