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FRONT BURNER: Perfect crust makes for perfect pizza

By Kelly Brant

This article was published May 17, 2017 at 1:57 a.m.

four-hour-pizza-crust-topped-with-peppers-onions-hamburger-pepperoni-and-lots-of-mozzarella-cheese

Four-hour pizza crust topped with peppers, onions, hamburger, pepperoni and lots of mozzarella cheese

I recently read an article that said the average American family eats pizza once a week.

I wouldn't say we eat it quite that often; every two weeks is more accurate for my household. We have a favorite pizza place for those too-tired-to-cook nights, but we usually make our own -- including the all-important crust. After all, you can't have good pizza without good crust. And let's be honest, those par-baked crusts sold at the grocery store taste like cardboard.

Over the years my husband and I have tried dozens of crust recipes and created a few of our own.

We have a handful of recipes that we turn to again and again, depending on our mood and how much time we have.

We recently added another to that file.

It is based on the focaccia recipe I wrote about a few weeks ago.

The dough needs about 4 hours to proof, so this isn't the kind of pizza you can make on the spur of the moment, but it is considerably faster than my all-time favorite 24-hour pizza crust recipe.

In semi-related news, my cousin recently became a Pampered Chef consultant, which gave me an excuse to buy a new pizza stone. The new one features handles and an exterior glaze, making it much easier to remove from the oven and more attractive for serving.

The drawback of the new one is it doesn't have the same heat resistance as my old one. This new stone is heat-safe up to 450 degrees, as opposed to my old stone that could withstand temperatures up to 550 degrees.

Testing out the new crust recipe seemed like the ideal time to christen the new stone. The stone's rim made shaping the crust into a perfect circle a cinch.

And the baked results were exactly what I wanted. The crust was hearty, but not too thick -- ideal

for pizzas loaded with toppings. Bread flour gives it that sought-after chew, while baking it on a stone helps to ensure an evenly cooked, crisp bottom. Adding a teaspoon of baking powder gave it a crisped, brown exterior.

The baked crust is kind of a cross between deep dish and hand tossed.

Four-Hour Pizza Crust

2 1/2 to 3 cups bread flour

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking powder, optional

11/2 cups water (between 80 and 110 degrees)

Olive oil

In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, baking powder and water. Mix, using a wooden spoon or your hands, until no dry flour remains. Lift dough from bowl and drizzle in about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Coat dough in oil. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for about 4 hours.

Generously coat dough with more olive oil. Press or pat dough into a circle on a pizza stone or a rimmed pizza pan. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

To bake:

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Top dough with desired toppings such as 1 cup pizza sauce, 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/2 small onion (very thinly sliced), 1/4 to 1/2 bell pepper (very thinly sliced), 1 cup cooked and crumbled ground beef or sausage, sliced pepperoni and more shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake 14 to 18 minutes or until crust is golden and toppings are piping hot.

Makes 1 (15-inch) pizza.

Food on 05/17/2017

Print Headline: Perfect crust makes for perfect pizza

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JPRoland says... May 17, 2017 at 9:11 a.m.

I make my own pizza, also and my recipe is almost exactly the same except I don't use baking powder. I always make sure my pizza stone is at least 450 degrees and that the stone is heated for at least an hour, which is something the late, Carol Grimaldi of the famous Grimaldi pizza family in New York told me. I make my pizza on a peel and then put the pizza on the hot stone. I can't imagine making the pizza on a cold stone.

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