September 1, 2016 |

Respecting the Craft: Thin is In

By Tony Gemignani

Tony’s tips on making the perfect crispy thin-crust pizza

Tony Gemignani World-champion Pizzaiolo and Pizzeria Owner

Tony Gemignani
World-champion Pizzaiolo and Pizzeria Owner

So many students ask me how to make a good, crispy thin-crust pizza. Is it the dough recipe or the technique? It’s a little of both, actually, but definitely more technique. One of my most popular thin-crust pizzas is my Chicago cracker thin. The dough has five percent cornmeal in the recipe and I use Ceresota Flour. This flour comes from the Chicago region and not too many operators know about it. It’s a very regional flour. Its bake, crispness and chew are the perfect example of how a thin-crust pizza ought to be.

If a dough is matured properly and cooked correctly, your thin crust should be pliable and strong. Many people think you need a dedicated thin-crust pizza recipe, but I can make amazing thin-crust pizzas from a standard New York or California type dough recipe as well. Here are some tips how:

  • Dough docker — This is a great tool that de-gases your dough by rolling over your pizza before it is sauced.
  • Trimming the perimeter — After your pizza is sauced close to the end of the crust, take your pizza wheel and trim a clean complete circle around your pizza. This will assist in making a thin crust even thinner. When you trim the dough you may notice that your dough is squared off. Press it down with your fingers for a cleaner, straighter rise.
  • thin-crust pizzaDusting — When dusting, use Semolina or cornmeal. This will strengthen your dough and is much better for carryout orders. Even substituting five to 10 percent of either semolina or cornmeal instead of flour to your dough recipe will assist with a crispier crust.
  • Higher hydration — Use more water in your dough recipe. The more water, the crispier your crust. Try adding two to four percent more water.
  • Warmer dough — Taking your dough out of the fridge before use will cause your dough to warm up. That’s a good thing! A good rule of thumb is to never put cold dough in a hot oven. One reason is that cold dough can scorch the bottom of your pizza in a brick oven, making it cook too fast on the outside and not enough in the middle. Cold dough can also bring out more bubbles, which isn’t the best when trying to make a super thin pizza.
  • Watch the sugar — Too high of a browning agent in your crust like sugar, malt or honey could make your dough brown too fast. This results in a weak pizza that isn’t cooked all the way through. A dough formula that calls for sugar at one to three percent of your flour weight will be fine as long as you allow your dough to mature for at least 24 hours and you bring your dough to approximately 65 F before use.

I have other great tips for thin-crust pizzas that I will be happy to share with you next month. Stay tuned!

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 and we’ll pass the best ones on to Tony.