One of the things that I love about pizza is its diversity. I’m not simply talking about throwing on some different toppings, though this can lead to some fun creations like the famous Mac-N-Cheese pizza at Ian’s Pizza in Madison, WI, which is known by practically every Badger undergrad. The foundation for any pizza, its crust, has many different varieties. I’ve already shown you one kind earlier, when I posted about Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza. Although I do love the flaky, buttery crust of a deep dish pizza, one of my favorite crust types is a thin, crispy crust. For me the thin crust allows me to enjoy the flavors of the toppings more than a thicker crust. Not to mention, a thin crust pizza, when eaten in moderation, can also leave you feeling less full. The sauce is another layer of the pizza that I enjoy experimenting with and trying novel ideas. Pizza sauce doesn’t have to be the traditional tomato-based spread that we’ve all grown to know. Experiment with other sauces like Alfredo, pesto, or even a vodka sauce. And don’t let your choice in sauce be relegated to Italian; try sauces from other areas of the world for a fusion of flavors and a new take on the pizza pie. The possibilities go as far as your imagination and adventure to experiment will take you.
Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Pizza Dough
I’m always keeping an eye out for ways to improve my recipes. I happened across this recipe for no-knead pizza dough a little while ago, and when I tried it, I was blown away. What I love about this dough recipe is that the recipe makes six balls of pizza dough, and you can freeze them so that you can use them at a later time. This recipe would also be great to use for a pizza party! Instruct your guests to bring their own toppings, while you provide the dough. I used my 16-inch round pizza pan and made pizzas about 14-inches in diameter, so it made for a pretty thin, crispy crust. If you don’t want to roll it out that thin, try making smaller pizzas. I even made a calzone with this dough, being cautious not to roll the dough out too thing, and it turned out great!
- 7 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 cups cup water, lukewarm
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, yeast, and salt. Gradually add the water, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the water is incorporated and a shaggy dough forms. You may need to use your hands to fully incorporate the water. Just remember, you don’t have to knead the dough. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to a clean large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature in a draft-free place until the dough is doubled in size. This may take up to 18 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is. At this point the dough will be super bubbly and when you pull it away from the side of the bowl, you’ll notice that it will look almost stringy like Spider-Man’s web or something. This stringy consistency is the result of the gluten that has formed, which will give your crust great body and texture. Transfer the dough to a generously floured work surface, dust with a bit of flour and gently shape into a rectangle. Divide the dough into six equal portions. Take one portion of dough at a time and gather four corners to the center to create four folds. Turn seam-side down and gently mold into an even ball. Dust with flour and repeat with remaining portions. Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour. If you are making the dough ahead of time, individually wrap each disc in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to three days. When you are ready to use the dough, unwrap and let rest at room temperature, covered in plastic wrap for two to three hours before shaping. If you are freezing the dough, individually wrap each disc in plastic and place in zip-top freeze bags for up to one month. Defrost the dough overnight in the fridge and then allow it to sit at room temperature as directed above before shaping. Roll dough out so that it is about 12-14 inches in diameter. Dough can also be stretched by hand using the knuckle method depicted in this video. Sprinkle a little cornmeal onto a pizza baking sheet and place dough on the sheet. Dress your pizza as you please and bake at 400 degrees until the crust is crisp and cheese begins to brown.
The King’s Thin Crust Alfredo and Spam Pizza
After being introduced to Spam by one of my close friends, I became hooked and started adding it to everything. I decided to experiment with Spam as a pizza topping and this was the result. The measurements in this can be adjusted based on your own tastes; dressing the top of a pizza isn’t meant to be a strict science, so have fun with it!
- 1 disc of Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Pizza Dough
- 2/3 – 3/4 cup Alfredo sauce, homemade or from a jar
- 2/3 cup Spam, cut into bite-sized cubes and pan-fried
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. When dough has been shaped and placed on pizza sheet as described in the recipe above, use a spatula to evenly spread Alfredo onto the surface of the dough. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese on top and then add the diced Spam, distributing pieces evenly. Add the remaining mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven until the crust is crisp and the cheese begins to brown a bit, about 10-15 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and sprinkle the top of the pizza with a bit of grated Parmesan cheese. Allow to cool slightly before cutting and serving, about 5 minutes.