Part II of Tony’s tips for making the perfect thin-crust pizza
Last month I gave some pointers for making a great thin-crust pizza. But since there’s so much to the subject, we broke it up into two parts. Without further adieu, here is the second installment!
• Saucing your thin-crust pizza. If you sauce your pizza and cook it for two minutes before you add your toppings, you’ll have a much stronger pizza. At one of my pizzerias — Capo’s — we do it this way. That’s because we have one of the thinnest crusts I make there. And, let me tell you, it’s super delicious! This technique is used on my St. Louis-style and Chicago Cracker-style pizzas.
• Finishing toppings. Remember that your finishing toppings should typically be more than your cooked toppings. The more ingredients you can add post-bake, the stronger and crispier your crust will be. One example is a common Italian-style pizza called Prosciutto e Pomodorini. This is a cheese pizza that is cooked. After the bake prosciutto, arugula, shaved Parmigiano, cherry tomatoes and olive oil are added. A lot of pizza makers think that more ingredients need to go on before the bake. This is not correct!
• Aged dough. The older the dough, the crispier crust. Old dough performs and cooks much better than dough that was freshly made. A 24- to 48-hour dough is optimal for a thin crust. A dough that is older has less simple sugar content in it, which means a slower browning. The ultimate result is a slightly longer bake and a crispier crust. Yeast feeds on simple sugar. Therefore, the longer it has to feed, the better.
• Thin in a pan. You can actually achieve a crispier crust by cooking in a well-seasoned pan. And doing so also is great for texture and flavor. Different types of oils can be used if you settle on this method. Play around with olive oil, cottonseed oil, canola or fats such as Crisco, butter or lard.
• Oven. I’m not saying to toss your conveyor away, but typically you will achieve a much crispier thin-crust pizza in a gas or electric brick oven by cooking directly on the stones. Anytime a pizza is cooked entirely on a screen and never has a chance to cook directly on a stone you typically have a weak bottom. A thin crust pizza is optimal cooking between 525 to 600 F.
• Sheeter, press or rolling pin. From my experience, using a rolling pin or sheeter makes a much thinner pizza compared to a dough press. They can be much more precise. Most dough presses use oil and heat your dough, resulting in an odd residual flavor (for more on presses, see the Dough Doctor column on page 26). Some dough press models that don’t heat your dough are better for flavor, but they may not get the thinness you want. So you may need to give an additional stretch to the dough after the press and use some of the techniques I mentioned above.
RESPECTING THE CRAFT features World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani, owner of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco and Pizza Rock in Sacramento. Tony compiles the column with the help of his trusty assistants, Laura Meyer and Thiago Vasconcelos. If you have questions on any kitchen topic ranging from prep to finish, Tony’s your guy. Send questions via Twitter @PizzaToday, Facebook (search: Pizza Today) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass the best ones on to Tony.
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