Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thin Semolina Pizza Crust (and a Fun Times Bonus Pizza Recipe)

I am a freewheeling pizza maker. People just take this crap too seriously. They go about making sponges and god knows what else. Sometimes, I don't want to dicker w/ the intricacies of bread making. I want a gorram pizza! The semolina flour is a real nice touch which to me makes it much more like pizzeria pizza in texture.

Here is what you need for two of the above pizzas. They are maybe twelve to fourteen inches in diameter. Big enough for two people unless you are trying to put on weight before football tryouts.

1.5 cups all purpose flour
1.5 cups semolina flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp yeast
1 tsp salt
~1 cup warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
parchment paper

As I said, I am a freewheeling pizza maker. I barely measure this stuff. People act like bread baking is this intense science. It's not. It's a craft like all other kinds of cooking. You need to do it a lot to get the art and feel of it down. As I mentioned, this is all a pretty quick rise and I don't think it's necessary to go about making sponges and any of that. Just throw the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir together.

If it looks like a bunch of flour mixed up w/ some other things, you are on the right track. Next step is to add the water. I use the hottest tap water I can get. It helps things get rising faster. Use about a cup but you really wanna get a feel for the texture. It should be stretchy and fairly light but not sticky.

Now it is time to knead the dough. Most recipes call for you to do this on a flat surface. I do it right in the bowl. One less thing to clean up and it helps to incorporate that last bit of flour on the side of the bowl. There are a bunch of guides on how to properly knead. I just go at it. The longer you knead, the more chewy the dough. Use a consistent technique, whatever it is, and you will eventually get a feel for how it affects your crust. I knead mine for only about two or three minutes these days. I used to knead for up to eight. I am just starting to like a lighter crust is all.

Once you've finished kneading, drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil over it and in the bowl. Make sure the bowl gets a good coat. Mine looks about like this when I'm done.

Let the bread rise right in the bowl you made it in. This is another dish saved and really has no ill effect as far as I can tell. Cover it w/ a damp towel and put it on your stove while you preheat it to the very hottest setting possible (500 degrees Fahrenheit on mine). High temperature gets you the best and crispiest crust. I let it rise for about an hour. It takes almost this long for my oven to get to that temperature anyway. When the crust has risen, to about twice it's normal size, it's ready.

I forgot to take picture until after I pushed it down a bit when I was seperating it out into to balls but here is my crust after I let it rise:

For these pizzas, obviously, I divide this portion into two. That is a good size for me. It works w/ my pizza peel and my pizza stone. If you want you can make this all one big pizza on either once of those bigger pizza pans or any old cookie sheet. If you do use a peel and a pizza stone, I have a trick that makes life much easier: place a piece of parchment paper on the peel first and the pizza will slide right on and off.


Just plop the dough in the center and roll it out w/ a rolling pin. This rolls out to about 12-14" which is about as big as my peel. Most pizzerias use cornmeal to allow the pizza to slide off. That works too but every now and again it sticks. W/ the parchment paper, though, I never have a problem.However, I do like the texture the cornmeal adds so once it's rolled out, I sprinkle a little under there. I do it one half at a time like so:

So that is pretty much it for the crust. If you just want a flat bread, bake it at 500 degrees for about ten minutes. But who wants flat bread when you can have pizza?

Spread some sauce on it. I use maybe four tablespoons worth. You don't need a thick coat. That will just burn your mouth and make the cheese slide out.


This is actually a little more than I normally use. I had a very chunky homemade pasta sauce on hand that I used which made it a little hard to get a good coating w/o using a bunch.

Depending on what toppings I use, a lot of times I like to get them kind of mixed in w/ the cheese. I used some sliced up Italian sausage on this one. My favorite cheese for pizza is Asiago or maybe Parmesan but I use all kinds of stuff. On this one, I just had a bag of shredded mozzarella and that is a perfectly acceptable alternative. One mistake I think a lot of home pizza makers make is to use too much cheese. I know you like cheese and that's all in good fun but you don't need to have a quarter inch coating of it all over on a thin crust pizza. You should at least see the sauce over most parts of it. Because I used so much sauce, I used a little extra cheese on this one too. The key is balance. 

Here it is in the oven:

I think the pizza stone does wonders for the crispness of the crust. If you don't have one, don't sweat it. I still make larger pizzas on cookie sheets all the time and they turn out just great. The super hot oven and the crust will get the crust nice and crispy and the cheese wonderfully browned in about ten to fifteen minutes. Watch it like a hawk through the glass after about eight minutes though. Pizza can go from beautifully brown to charred pretty quickly.

This one didn't turn out half bad. The cheese is browned:

And the bottom of the crust is just a little crispy:


Probably would have had better results on the crust had I know used so much cheese and sauce (which seems to act as sort of a heat sink) but this was a very fine pizza indeed. Make up a couple yourself and let us know what you put on them in the comments. 


  1. Here is a theory that I have read and occasionally implemented: you avoid putting warm toppings on the pizza dough, you get a crispier and less floppy crust.

    Any thoughts?

  2. I have never heard of this before, actually. I could see how maybe if the sauce is warm it might be more readily absorbed into the crust or something. Interesting.