Make a Better Pizza Crust

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2011 • all rights reserved

The Secret to a Crispy Crust

I’ve been experimenting lately to try to make a better pizza crust and finally discovered the trick for having a crisp, crunchy crust instead of a limp, doughy one.

Tuns out, it’s not hard.  I just came up with one “trick.”

My past efforts weren’t satisfactory because no matter what dough recipe I used, and no matter what temperature I set the oven at, I still had what I’ll call “limp pizza.”  Basically, pizza that you can’t pick up in your hand because the crust just droops.  Pizza where the crust just seems underdone or soggy with the sauce.  I tried partially baking the crust before I put the toppings on, I tried pre-baking and then flipping the crust over, everything.  I couldn’t get the type of crust I wanted.

Then I got an idea when I was making some No-Knead bread — what if I used a heavy pan and preheated the pan in the oven, as I did with the no-knead bread?  This has turned out to be the real secret!

Note:  Since you’re working with a hot oven and hot pan, only do this in a calm anchorage or marina.  And if your oven has any hot spots, you’re likely to burn the crust — think about getting a baking stone, which will even out the heat for everything you bake!
Instructions

  1. Use any pizza dough recipe, or even bread dough with the gluten developed (so that the dough can be stretched out).
  2. About 20 minutes before you want to bake the pizza, put the pan you intend to bake it on in the oven and preheat the oven. The heavier the pan, the better the results will be as it will hold heat better.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. or as close as your oven will get – even if your oven will only get to 350 degrees F., this technique will produce much better results than what you’d otherwise get.
  4. While the pan is preheating, get all the toppings out and ready to go. It’s important to work quickly once the pan is hot, so having everything ready to toss on really helps.
  5. On a cutting board, counter, pan or even a plate if it’s large enough, pat the pizza dough out to the size and shape you want the finished pizza to be.
  6. When the pan and oven are up to temperature, take the pan out of the oven. Very quickly (and carefully!) transfer the pizza dough to it – you don’t need to oil the pan as there is a little oil on the dough from its rising. I find that it works best to just pick the dough up in my hands and lay it on the pan instead of trying to keep it flat. Just be careful not to burn your hands! The dough should sizzle a bit as it hits the hot pan – that’s what will make the crust crispy.
  7. Quickly spread the sauce over the crust, then add your toppings. In general, don’t use more than 3 or 4 toppings in addition to sauce and cheese. It’s important to work quickly, so that the pan doesn’t lose too much heat.
  8. Put the pan back in the oven and bake about 20 minutes. The exact time will vary, depending on the crust thickness, toppings and oven temperature. For a thin crust pizza with light toppings in a 450 degree oven, check it after 12 minutes. A thick crust pizza with numerous toppings in a 350 degree oven could take 30 minutes.
  9. If you have cheese on your pizza, the pizza is done when the cheese is melted and starting to turn golden. If you’re like us and not using cheese, look at the crust – when it’s turning golden/brown, the pizza is done.
  10. Enjoy!

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Comments

  1. Candy Ann Williams on Facebook says:

    Carolyn…..this is so funny….I am sitting in our galley with a pizza in the oven….I had a few minutes so I was looking at my Facebook ( I was expecting a message) and there was your pizza crust tips-ironic right? Have a good one.

  2. Great minds think alike??

  3. Hi Carolyn,
    I have been making pizzas for years at home and when we moved aboard I just kept doing the same thing except on a smaller scale. I use a pizza stone in my oven. I just leave it in to help regulate the oven temperature. So for my pizzas I just throw a thin layer of coarse corn meal right onto the stone and throw my pizza right on the hot surface. Like you mentioned, keeping it very hot and working quickly is the key. Once it’s on there don’t fuss with it or the crust may stick. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown on the bottom. I place the hot pizza right on my silicone cutting board to cool and cut to serve. Perfect every time. I “clean” up the stone the next day by wiping the crusty bits and corn meal right into the garbage. That’s it!

  4. Beer pizza crust is awesome too…3 easy ingredients and no raising necessary!

  5. I do the same thing as Dawn — but I have a porcelain tile instead of a baking stone. Fits the oven perfectly and cleans up easily with magic eraser or baking soda and water. I don’t have to get it too hot, but I do pre heat it a bit. Silicone oven mitts makes it easier to get it in and out of oven and to smooth out the dough. I put a sprinkle of corn meal on first, too, when I have it.
    Would love to get the Beer Pizza crust recipe!

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