Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cripsy Dough Pizza

Italians have their pizzas thin and crispy, and the topping simple. Yet it is that simplicity that carries the freshness, and the taste of the ingredients, and the skills of the chef through.

The bread-dough kind of pizza is, I believe, a little too Americanized. Pizza Hut is one example. It has become the main culprit & has cleverly positioned itself to be the generally accepted version of what a pizza should be. Actually, it's also a matter of personal taste. Some people like the doughy-bready effect on the crust (like my parents), but for us, that is a no-no. We'd go for the thin crispy crust instead.

I've had many excellent cooks giving me their theories of how to make good Crispy Thin Based Pizzas. Some of them have strongly suggested to use high protein flour, while others insisted that it must be well proven for many hours, and Aunty Linda insisted on putting it in the fridge before shaping.

It's all too confusing for me as none of them really worked out well. Usually, it's either not thin and crispy enough, or it's too difficult to roll into a nice round shape. Besides, I get suspicious when theories are too complicated because I believe the basic underlying reason why humans cook is still just to eat and survive. So there should be some sense of simplicity in the process.

Granted, ingredients may be complicated because some may be unavailable in different parts of the world but the process in cooking & the recipes themselves should be much more simpler, since they originated from someone's simple kitchen a long time ago. And when the cooking process & recipes are commercialised for mass production, they become even more simpler to reduce cooking time.

Therefore, it is always a challenge for me to unravel the mystery of simplicity in every complicated dish.

I have actually thought of a simple rule to 'de-confuse' myself:

Bread dough type of pizza, which is classified more like a bread, is made differently and ingredients differ slightly from crispy dough ones. They have different recipes and of course different end products. Dont try making the bread dough type of pizza using thin crispy dough recipes and vice versa.

I had recently obtained some tips about making this dough from a well known Western cooking chef in Kuching, Chef Sarah, at her cooking demo. The results were excellent and the steps were simple, almost cooking-idiot prove. For the first time, Greg actually finished almost the entire 12-inch pizza by himself. His actual words, "I did not know that pizza can be nice." Pizza Hut had really traumatized him and spoilt pizzas for him.

Here's what you need:

400gm of plain flour
100gm of semolina
250 gm of plain water
25 gm of olive oil
12 gm of salt
3 gm of active yeast instant

1) Sift flour and mix all dry ingredients together.

2) Start beating on no. 1 with a dough beater. When ingredients are mixed, slowly add in water. Then finally oil. If you find that the dough is still dry and has not fully come together, add a little water (be very sparing).

3) Beat on speed no. 2 to 3 until the dough completely leaves the side of bowl, and if you lift from machine, it does not stick onto your hand at all.

4) Sprinkle a little flour on your work surface. And hand-knead the dough to release all air bubbles. The dough will feel tight as you knead, if there are little air bubbles. Knead into a big round tight dough as shown above.

5) Leave in a clean bowl, lightly flour for 20-30 min or slightly longer depending on humidity and weather.

Test for doneness:
Poke two holes in the dough with your fingers. If the holes become really shallow, it is ready.
You can also light press the dough: if it bounces back slowly, it is ready.

6) Divide the dough into 4 equal parts, about 200gm for each part. Lightly knead each part into a round tight dough. Put those that you don't need in the fridge in zip lock or airtight container. The dough can keep up to a week.

6) Lightly dust the dough, the work surface and rolling pin. Using the rolling pin, roll from middle out into a thin round sheet of 10 inch - 12 inch. Turn the dough over so that the rolling is done on both sides of the dough. Lightly flour surface after each turn. This method gives a very thin, easily rolled out dough that will not tear easily.

7) Preheat oven at 250 deg with your pizza pan. Place dough sheet on a pre-heat pan. Put on tomato coullis, mozarella cheese and toppings, followed back by some more mozarella cheese.

8) Bake at 250 deg celcius NO FAN FORCED for home oven, for 12-15 min (for my ovens) on the floor of the oven. Check the pizza base at around 8 min, and subsequent every 2-3 min to understand your own oven. If it is lightly browned with little batches of darker brown, it is ready. Results are guaranteed very crispy pizzas. Good Luck!


Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

looks good! my 11 year-old oven has a hole in the base, n when i read the instructions on my new oven, it clearly stated tt baking pans shld not be put on the base. tt's how i've been baking my pizzas bc i see the pizza places do tt but now i realise tt's prob what spoilt my oven. so pls use the lowest rack, not the base!

WoMbOk™♂ said...

mamma miaa!~

NEE said...

A terri: hehehe..if 11 year old it is about time to change too. yeah the recipe can be used for the lowest rack as well. just take slightly longer. i wish i have those proper pizza ovens, looks so cool, small and compact, bake so fast too. but cost as much as those normal home oven ie 2k and above. hai....

Wombok: hehehe....

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