I’m always on a quest for the best pizza crust recipe. Both Taylor and I love the thin and crispy kind, so at least we are in agreement of what the “best” will be. This pizza crust, adapted from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, (a book I should probably own), is the best we’ve made so far. Perfect would be the crust recipe they use at City House, one of Nashville’s most delicious restaurants and the gold standard for gourmet pizza (at least in my book). How I wish I could sneak in and steal their recipe for pizza crust, which tastes almost like a combination of puff pastry and pizza crust. This recipe is pretty darn close, which I attribute to the addition of olive oil for that rich and almost buttery taste.
I also realized that it is much easier to make two smaller thin crust pizzas than one larger one, especially when you don’t have a pizza peel (another item on the wishlist). Smaller pizzas are easier to stretch out thinner, and easier to move from pan/peel to pizza stone and back again.
Ever since we got our first bundle of garlic scapes, I’ve been thinking pizza would be a perfect way to use them. And with another bundle arriving this week, we had too many not to give it a try. We paired the scapes with a soft and creamy goat’s milk brie, and while the baked cheese stuck to the roof of your mouth like glue, it gave the pizza a rich and earthy flavor that played perfectly with the light garlic flavor of the scapes. While I racked my brain trying to think of additional toppings we could add to the mix, I think with pizza, less is truly more. Adding anything else to this pizza, whether it be sauce or meat or some other veggie, would have muddled the subtlety of the flavors. Simplicity is a beautiful thing.
2 1/4 cups unbleached bread flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
7/8 cup (7 ounces) water, ice cold (40°F)
Semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting
8 oz. soft brie cheese
8-10 garlic scapes, thinly sliced on the bias (about 2 cups)
freshly cracked black pepper
Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the oil and the cold water and stir on low speed until the flour is all absorbed. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky.
Transfer the dough to floured work surface. Prepare a baking dish by lining it with lightly oiled parchment paper. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Sprinkle flour over the dough. Gently round each piece into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, lightly dip your hands in flour. Transfer the dough balls to the prepared dish, Mist the dough generously with spray oil and slip the pan into a food-grade plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate overnight (or up to 3 days). At this point the dough can also be frozen; simply wrap each ball indvidually in plastic wrap and place inside a zippered freezer bag. Transfer to the refrigerator the day before you plan on baking them.
Remove dough from refrigerator and rest at room temperature for 2 hours. On a lightly floured work surface, gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter.
At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone either on the floor of the oven (for gas ovens), or on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven as hot as possible, 500 to 550 degrees F. If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.
Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal. Make the pizzas one at a time. Dip your hands, including the backs of your hands and knuckles, in flour and lift I piece of dough by getting under it with a pastry scraper. Very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion on your hands, carefully giving it a little stretch with each bounce, and continue to stretch/toss until the dough is approximately 7″ across and uniformly thin. If you have trouble tossing the dough, or if the dough keeps springing back, let it rest for 5 to 20 minutes so the gluten can relax, and try again.
Lay the stretched dough on the peel or pan, making sure there is enough semolina flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide. Lightly brush with olive oil, and poke it a few times with a fork so it doesn’t bubble.
Spread 2oz of brie cheese on each crust. You can also use slices if your brie is too firm to spread. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 of garlic scapes. Season with sea salt and pepper.
Gently slide the topped pizza onto the stone (or bake directly on the sheet pan) and close the door. Bake (two at a time) until the bottoms are lightly golden and the cheese is bubbly and just barely browned. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Repeat with remaining pizzas. Let rest for 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving.