When I was growing up we ate a lot of pizza. Let me clarify that. We ate a lot of Pizza Hut pizza (primarily). Perhaps because Pizza Hut is my first memory of pizza, I clung to the idea that I preferred thick-crust pizza over thin-crust pizza for the longest time. It was a few short years ago that it finally dawned on me that I really don’t care for thick crust pizza anymore. In fact, the last time we had a medium-crust pizza from Papa Murphy’s, I really didn’t care for the thickness of the crust.
That being said, I love to make my own homemade pizza. I’ve never made the perfect thin crust pizza before. Until now.
Making the perfect thin crust pizza is pretty simple. Use your favorite no-knead bread dough recipe that yields about four loaves of bread. (I used a recipe for Rosemary Olive Oil Foccacia Bread.)
When you’re ready to bake your pizza, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut off a hunk of dough approximately the size of large orange or small grapefruit. Dust the chunk of dough with flour and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the dough a quarter of a turn. Place on a 16-inch pizza pan dusted with cornmeal.
Use your hands to pat the dough out from the middle on outward. This will probably take quite awhile. You’ll need flour on hand because you’ll find that as you’re patting the dough toward the edges, you’ll hit some sticky spots. That’s OK. Just continue to dust with flour as you pat. It may seem like you’re really stretching the dough thin. You are! This is exactly what you want. If you happen to tear the dough don’t worry about it. Just pat the dough near the tear inward (toward the tear) to patch it up.
Once you’ve finally reached the edges of the pan, sprinkle with olive oil and then rub the oil into the crust. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (I prefer a lot of both.)
The secret to the perfect extra-thin pizza crust is to par-bake the crust before adding the remaining ingredients and baking the entire pie. I’ve found the necessary time for par-baking is 10 minutes. The crust should begin to brown very slightly around the edges and curl upward from the heat. If you have bubbles in your crust don’t worry about it. Even the best pizza joints around have bubbles in their crusts. If they really bother you, you can pop them with a fork or knife and try to pat them down before adding the remaining of the ingredients to the pizza.
Once you add the remaining ingredients, cook the pizza for another 15 minutes longer. The edges of the crust will be brown and the bottom will be crispy. Your pizza slice will not sag at all when you bring it up to your mouth for a bite. It shouldn’t! Mine didn’t.