Pizza is arguably the world’s most famous and popular fast food and can be found everywhere in one guise or another. Making thin crust pizza at home is essentially a simple process: flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water and oil, mixed to a smooth dough, unfolded to make a thin crust, topped with sauce and cheese and baked to (hopefully) perfection.
The main difficulty for the home cook when making good pizza is the relatively low temperature capability of domestic kitchen ovens (typically 240c maximum). With commercial pizza / wood burning ovens easily reaching temperatures of 350-400c+, (cooking an individual pizza in 90 seconds or less), it’s difficult if not impossible to achieve similar temperatures in our home ovens. Whilst there are many excellent products out there for pizza enthusiasts who want to achieve these high heats, essential for recreating authentic Neapolitan pizzas, they can be on the expensive side. The Burnhard Pizza Oven for outdoor use and the Royal Catering indoor pizza oven are just two examples of pizza ovens which have gained many avid fans over recent years and if you’re looking to recreate Neapolitan style pizzas then these sorts of ovens may be of great interest to you.
When it comes to thin crust pizzas (think New York City style slices) however, with the combination of a slow proofed dough, a lightly oiled pizza tray and a good quality pizza stone, we can easily recreate the kinds of pizzas we might enjoy from our local pizza restaurants. I’ve been tinkering with pizzas on and off for many years now and I’ve finally reached a point that I feel can’t be improved upon.
If you’re lucky enough to own or have access to a stand mixer, a 5 minute mix on medium speed gives excellent results to the finished dough. Using the dough recipe listed below, I hope you’ll be able to achieve excellent results in your own kitchen. If you’re like me and really want to add that takeaway touch to your pizzas (or deliver them to hungry friends), you can even use authentic pizza boxes!
This recipe makes enough dough and sauce for 2 10-12″ pizzas. If you have two trays and two stones, you’ll be able to bake both pizzas at the same time. Alternatively, bake the first pizza, allow the stone to reheat briefly and continue with the second. Both the dough and the sauce can be frozen for future use. Let me know how you get on in the comments below!
- 325 grams strong white bread flour
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 3/4 teaspoon caster sugar
- 1 generous teaspoon sea salt
- 200 ml room temperature water
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 175 grams crushed tomatoes (I use Cirio brand – see notes)
- Pinch dried crushed chilli flakes
- Pinch garlic powder
- Pinch dried oregano
- Pinch sea salt
- Pinch black pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 80 grams grated mozzarella cheese (per pizza)
- 40 grams wet mozzarella (mozzarella ball) (per pizza)
- 3-4 tablespoons prepared pizza sauce (per pizza)
- toppings (as desired)
- Pinch black pepper (to garnish the baked pizza)
- Pinch dried oregano (to garnish the baked pizza)
In the bowl of a mixer, add 325g bread flour, 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast, 3/4 teaspoon sugar, 1 generous teaspoon sea salt and 200ml water. Mix on medium (speed setting 5) for around 1 minute until the water is fully incorporated into the dough. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil. Mix again on medium (speed setting 5) for around 5 minutes. The dough should ideally reach an internal temperature of 25-26c. Alternatively, knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes.
Cover the prepared dough with a clean damp cloth and set aside for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, divide the dough into two equal pieces (each around 268g), shape into smooth balls and place each dough ball in separate lightly oiled plates or one large lightly oiled plate, leaving space between each dough. Cover lightly with oiled cling film and set aside at the back of the fridge for a minimum of 24 hours, ideally 48 hours. After this time the dough is ready to use, or can be frozen for future use.
In a bowl, add 175g crushed tomatoes, pinch of dried crushed chilli flakes, pinch of garlic powder, pinch of dried oregano, pinch of sea salt, pinch of black pepper and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Mix well, cover and set aside in the fridge until needed. The sauce will keep well for 4 days – the flavour will improve over time so it's best to prepare the sauce the same day the dough is prepared. This makes enough sauce for two pizzas and the sauce can be frozen if desired.
2 hours before you want to eat, remove the dough ball/s from the fridge, dust a work surface lightly with flour and place the dough ball on the floured surface. Cover with the cling film you used to cover the dough in the fridge and allow to come to room temperature / rise a little on the work surface. Meanwhile, preheat a pizza stone (or two if cooking both pizzas at the same time) in the oven at the highest possible temperature (typically 240c).
When the dough has rested at room temperature and the pizza stone has reached temperature (260c+), lightly oil the pizza tray. Dust the doughball thoroughly in flour. Unfold the dough by hand, taking care not to touch the crust of the dough too much in order to ensure the crust keeps its air and rises nicely. Pizza chefs often use a technique called 'walking the dough' which essentially involves lifting the dough at points where it feels thicker and allowing gravity to stretch it thinner. Take your time unfolding the dough, being careful not to have any thin spots in the pizza base. If you do have thin spots, simply avoid saucing / topping these sections heavily in order to ensure there are no spillages on to your pizza stone. Remember, practice makes perfect and it's more important to have a workable dough without any holes than it is to have a perfectly circular pizza. It tastes just as good no matter what shape it is!
Carefully lift the unfolded dough on to the oiled pizza tray. Top with pizza sauce, grated mozzarella and wet mozzarella. Remember, less is more when topping your pizza and it pays to arrange toppings mostly towards the edges of the base. As the pizza cooks, toppings will naturally shift a little towards the middle of the pizza base.
Wipe the underside of your pizza tray briefly with kitchen paper to ensure that no sauce or cheese will hit your stone. Place the pizza (still in its tray) on to preheated pizza stone. Bake the pizza for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, the pizza should move easily on the tray with a little shake. Carefully slide the pizza off of the tray and directly on to the pizza stone to ensure a nice browning on the underneath of your crust. Bake for a further 3 minutes and 30 seconds or so, rotating the pizza once or twice on the stone to ensure even browning.
When the crust is golden brown, the cheese is melted and the toppings are sizzling, remove the pizza from the oven. Garnish with a little black pepper and dried oregano, slice and serve.
Crushed tomatoes are also commonly labelled ‘passata rustica’ – I like Cirio brand passata rustica best.
If you like this Thin Crust Pizza recipe, you might be interested in buying my book: The Takeaway Secret (2nd edition) is packed full of over over 120 takeaway & fast-food recipes and is available to buy in kindle or paperback form here.