I’m always looking for the ultimate pizza dough – one that will produce crispy pizza without having to use pizza stone or other professional gadgets.
I’ve tried a few good and tasty recipes, but still thought they lacked in crispiness and texture. So I’ve decided to experiment a bit with other types of flour and came up with this tasty and crisp version for thin crust pizza.
A bit about the flours used: the basis for the dough is white flour, as we need its gluten to help the dough rise. I prepared the dough once with all-purpose unbleached flour and once with bread flour (which contains more gluten), and actually liked the all-purpose one better. However, if you prefer thicker crust, use bread flour as your base. The semolina adds a crunchier texture, and the spelt flour adds extra crispiness, nutty flavor and a nice golden color.
The dough keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days, and is even easier to roll after a day in the fridge. So it makes sense to prepare a larger batch. Just remember to bring the dough to room temperature before rolling.
As for rolling, while many prefer to stretch the dough, using a rolling pin is quicker and easier, especially if you like thin crust. So here too, take your pick.
One thing I recommend not to change is using semolina when rolling the dough and on the baking pan, rather than flour.The semolina makes the rolling easier and adds even more crunchiness to the dough.
One last thing: make sure that the oven is really hot before you place the pizza in it. This is crucial if you want a crisp crust.
Spelt and Semolina Pizza Dough:
Makes: 4 x 11” (28cm) pizza
Prep time: 20 minutes
Proofing time: 2-3 hours
Baking time: 10-12 minutes
For the starter:
1 cup flour
1 package (1/4 oz, 7 grams) dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 Tbs sugar
For the dough:
1 ½ cups warm water
2 cups flour
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup fine semolina
1 Tbs salt
¼ cup olive oil + 2 Tbs for the bowl
Suggested toppings: Cherry tomatoes sauce (recipe below), sautéed onions and peppers, sautéed oyster king mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, sliced Andouille sausage
1. Mix the ingredients for the starter in a mixer bowl. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, until it foams.
2. Add the rest of the dough ingredients. Fit the dough hook and mix on low speed, scraping the sides occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Turn the speed to medium-high and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and playable. The dough should be fairly sticky, so add flour only if you think it’s really necessary.
3. Oil a large bowl with olive oil and place the ball of dough in it. Turn it so it will be covered with oil all over. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for about an hour. (Inside the oven always works for me.)
4. Take out, punch the dough and knead by hand for 1-2 minutes. Cover again and place in a warm place for about 2 hours.
5. Punch the dough again and knead by hand for 1-2 minutes. Cut into 4 equal portions and let rest for at least 15 minutes before rolling.
6. At this point you can roll the dough and bake your pizza, but if you have time, wrap each portion with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a day and up to 5 days. The dough will be easier to roll after refrigeration – just remember to bring it to room temperature before rolling.
7. To bake the pizza: have on hand the tomato sauce and toppings. Preheat the oven to 500F (260C). Sprinkle semolina on the work surface and roll one portion of the dough on it, to a round, thin disc of about 11” (28cm). Sprinkle some semolina on the baking pan and place the disc on it. Add a few tablespoons of sauce all over and add the toppings.
8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the bottom is golden-brown and crisp and the cheese bubbly and golden. Cut with a large knife to 6 and serve immediately.
Cherry tomatoes sauce:
Cherry tomatoes are great for a quick and tasty tomato sauce. I like to use a variety of colors and shapes, both for their flavor and for nutritious reasons. Since they have finer skins than regular tomatoes, it’s easy to process them whole, which will add an interesting texture and fiber to the sauce.
As tasty as the sauce is, try not to spread too much of it on the dough, so that your pizza will not end up soggy.
Makes: 2 cups. Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 10 minutes
In a medium size flat pot, mix 2 Tbs olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped and 1 sprig rosemary. Cook on medium-low heat until the garlic turns white. Add 1 lbs (450 grams) assorted cherry tomatoes, quartered, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper and pinch of sugar. Mix and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes are very soft. Take the rosemary sprig out, but leave a few needles in. Blend in a food processor to a thick sauce. Adjust seasoning if needed.
The sauce can keep, in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before using.