The Secret to a PERFECT Homemade Pizza Crust (oh, and some Thai Chicken Pizza)
Let’s talk about weekends, shall we? Sleeping in, delectable brunches, leisure reading-time, downtown strolls sweetened by popping in and out of shops, and let’s not forget – nights out on the town! In and of themselves, weekends quite simply rock! But if you’re looking to kick it up a notch, all you have to add is pizza. Pizza is to weekends what Hollandaise is to an egg, some ham and an English muffin. On their own they’re pretty rad, but you add that extra little something something and it’s like whoa baby! You suddenly never knew life before it!
Call me a strange child (I’m ok with it; I was), but as far back as I can remember, I had always thought that there was something magical about eating pizza on weekends; a sort of über gastro-reward for a week well-done. Actually, I still believe that weekends beg of the consumption of pizza. So when Friday comes rolling around, you can probably bet on the creation of a pizza or two around here.
Pizza is one of those foods that has the ability to be so diverse it would be hard to find someone who didn’t like some variation of it. Picky eater? Cheese pizza please! Veg-head? Hold the meat! Hearty appetite? I’ll have the works! Can’t decide between pizza and take out? Get creative…
Enter: Thai Chicken Pizza.
Spicy peanut-hoisin sauce, moist grilled chicken, crisp Asian-inspired veggies, and lotsa mozza finished with toasty peanuts and refreshing cilantro – some may call it pizza, I call it art.
Speaking of art – how I make my pizza has become something of an art itself. Frustrated with trying pizza pans and stones of every sort that never delivered the “straight from the pizza hearth” results they always promised, I had relented back to a good old fashion cookie sheet. Then one day I stumbled upon this idea. Hello! Why hadn’t I thought of that! Little Miss “I-use-my-cast-iron-skillet-every-way-I-possibly-can” failed to think of its ultimate use… pizza!!
Don’t be put off by the long list of instructions. I just wanted to make sure the process was described in-full so you could be ensured success! It’s really quite simple – the basic idea is this: preheat the skillet using direct heat from your stove’s burner/element until it’s hot, hot, hot! Then carefully (very carefully; I’ve been known to burn a finger once or twice) slide your prepped pizza into the skillet (an extra set of hands is a bonus during this step!) and pop it into a blazing oven. Insta-pizza hearth!
What results is a pizza that boasts the highly coveted “crispy on the bottom yet tender and chewy throughout” texture. You even get those neat little bubbles popping up along the crust! Yahtzee! As for pizza flavours, that’s completely up to you! But you can bet you’ll probably see a few ideas kicking around the blog in the time to come.
Have a wild and crazy pizza flavour you might like to see on the blog? Comment my friend!
Have a fantastic weekend everyone!!
Basic pizza dough for two thin-crust pizzas
- 1 pkg (2-¼ tsp) active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water (105 to 115 F)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole wheat four
- 1-½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Cooking spray
- Pour yeast into large bowl. Combine warm water and honey in a glass. Pour over yeast. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, until mixture is foamy. Meanwhile, combine all-purpose and whole wheat flours. Set aside.
- Add olive oil and salt to yeast mixture. Mix well. Add 1 cup flour mixture. Using a wooden spoon or a stand-mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir until smooth. Add a second cup of flour mixture and continue to stir until dough forms a soft and sticky mass and comes away from the bowl.
- Continue to add flour, a little bit at a time, until the dough is smooth and elastic (if you are forming dough by hand, you may need to turn onto a floured-work surface and knead). Don’t worry if you don’t use up all the flour. How much flour you need will depend on the climate you live in. Shape dough into a ball. Spray a large bowl with olive oil spray and place dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes, until double in size.
- Have all the toppings grated, cut, and ready for extremely rapid deployment
- Preheat oven to 450°F
- Preheat the dry, ungreased skillet on the stovetop on the highest setting for approximately 5 minutes. (I know the article says 8-10, but this once resulted in a disastrously black pizza crust! So this may just depend on your stove!)
- Punch down dough and return to work surface. Divide dough into 2 balls, using a rolling-pin (or better yet hand-stretch!) form each ball into a disk, approximately 12 inches wide.
- Lightly flour a cutting board. Lay the disk of dough on the floured board and shake the board from side to side to prevent the dough from sticking. Immediately sauce it then add toppings.
- Slide the pizza into the skillet. You may find that having another pair of hands to guide the leading edge of the pizza onto the skillet helps.
- When your pizza is in the skillet, immediately pop the skillet into your blazing hot oven. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, at which point switch on your broiler to high and broil for an additional 2-3 minutes, until cheese and browned and bubbly.
- Bask in the glory of having prepared a pizza that will leave your dinner mates speechless and you exclaiming, “Who’s your Übermensch, baby?!”
Thai Chicken Pizza (adapted from Eat, Shrink & Be Merry)
- ¼ cup light peanut butter
- ¼ cup hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated gingerroot
- 1 teaspoon liquid honey,
- 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup chopped, cooked chicken breast
- 1 prepped 12” pizza shell (preferable a kickass one you made yourself using the recipe above, but if you’re using a pre-baked one I won’t tell anyone!)
- 1 cup packed shredded skim mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1/3 cup bean sprouts (you’ll notice my pizza is sans sprouts… that’s the beauty of cooking to-taste!)
- ¼ cup shredded carrots
- ¼ cup chopped green onions
- 2 tablespoons chopped dry-roasted peanuts
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
- Preheat oven to 450°F
- To make sauce, combine all sauce ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time, until smooth and bubbly.
- Mix 1 heaping tablespoon of peanut sauce with chicken cubes and set aside.
- Have all the toppings grated, cut, and ready for extremely rapid deployment and go ahead and begin to preheat your cast-iron skillet.
- Prep your crust, as described above, and get it situated on the floured cutting board (remember to slide it around a little just to make sure it won’t stick to the board on you!)
- To assemble the pizza, spread the remaining peanut sauce evenly over the crust. top with half the shredded cheese. Distribute chicken cubes evenly over the cheese. Top with bean sprouts, carrots, green onions and peanuts, in that order. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese over toppings. (**Note: in pictures you’ll see I transferred my crust to the skillet and then added toppings. Don’t do this. Follow the instructions and top your pizza first and then transfer to the skillet. Trust me )
- Slide the pizza into the skillet (those extra hands really do help, if you have a set handy… har har)
- When your pizza is in the skillet, immediately pop the skillet into your blazing hot oven.
- Bake for approximately 10 minutes, at which point you should switch your broiler on to high and broil for an additional 2-3 minutes, until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
- Enjoy, jumping up and down with pleasure both during and after each bite.