Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Suzanne Lenzer's Magical Pizza Dough

My obsession with pizza continues as I hunt for the perfect dough. Toppings come easily. But they need that thin, crusty base. And I know I have found the best. This crust is the most forgiving. And so giving. Having used the recipe a few times, I can honestly say this is the best damn crust I've made. This makes a wafer-then slice you can hold up like a cracker laden with all things pizza. You bite into a slightly doughy but crispy piece of pie. Bliss!!! The family repeats that mantra too.

It begins with a birthday present. Truly Madly Pizza by Suzanne Lenzer is a book with an adventurous palate. Filled with mouthwatering recipes and pictures, this drool worthy tome sits on my table. I haven't been able to put it away. Toppings are innovative, bold and exotic. Cheese and vegetables in inordinate combinations. Meats tucked into red and white sauces. The piece de resistance is the crust. Easiness personified, the dough comes together in a jiffy. I have used both the food processor and a stand mixer, both yielding a light stretchy dough. Haven't tried the hand method...I will when the other two devices break down!

This is magic dough. You proof it for a remarkably short period and you have a malleable base that pulls out thin and strong. And by strong I mean it doesn't tear. I mean you really have to stretch it paper thin to tear. My dough stretches thin enough for me to see through. Don't believe me?? Just try this super flexible dough. I usually cut the dough into thirds, then work each piece with my fingers. Once the dough thins out, you can pull it into any shape. Round is the norm, but rectangular pizza is much much easier to stretch. That's the way I go. Work it till the dough is as thin as you want. The edges should be thicker as this holds the toppings in place. They puff up, turn into golden bubbles, very deliciously crusty.

A pizza peel is a must. Or a wooden chopping board. Scatter semolina over the peel. Place the dough over semolina, shaking the peel so the dough moves. Shaking is VERY IMPORTANT as it ensures the dough will not stick to the wood. Top with your choice of meat, sauce, veggies or cheese. The sky is the limit. 

By now your pizza stone in oven or grill will be smoking hot. This is the optimum way to make pizza. If you do not have a stone, a very hot baking sheet should suffice. Come rain or shine, it always the grill for me. I heat the stone for fifteen minutes before I slide the pizza onto the hot surface. I have an redoubtable Emile Henry pizza stone but my latest toy is Baking Steel. Love it love it love it. Pizza crackles when laid on this surface. Two minutes later you have a delectable thin crust pizza. Yes! Two minutes!!! 

Enough advice.. Here's the recipe. Get to it. It's a keeper.

from Truly Madly Pizza by Suzanne Lenzer
Makes 3 8x4 rectangular pizzas or 4 8 inch rounds

2 3/4 cup Bread or All Purpose Flour 
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry Yeast
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 cup warm Water
2-5 tablespoons Semolina or Cornmeal

Put flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine.

Add olive oil and pulse a few times to mix.

Pour warm water into the bowl as you pulse every few seconds. Keep pulsing till dough comes together.

Pulse dough for about two minutes till it is smooth.

Lay the dough onto a 10x6  piece of plastic wrap.

Pat dough out into a 8x6 rectangle.

Press fingers into dough to make indentations. 

Fold the left third of the dough over and make more indentations.

Fold right third of the dough over and repeat indentations. These folds resemble a letter fold.

Wrap dough in the plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes.

Start grill. Or heat oven to 500F.

Place pizza stone onto grill or oven. Let stone heat for at least 30 minutes. 

Divide dough into 3 portions.

Start stretching one portion with your finger. Once you have a shape in mind either a rectangle or circle, follow the shape. Thin out the middle by laying it the dough on the counter top. Use your fingers to pull or stretch the dough till it is thin in the middle and thicker on the outer rim. 

Scatter semolina or cornmeal on a wooden peel. 

Lay pizza over semolina. Make sure there is semolina under the dough. Shake slightly making sure the pizza moves and doesn't stick to peel. If it does scatter more semolina under sticky part.

Spread pizza with your choice of toppings.

Margharita Pizza with Korean Steak

Brie Sweet Potato Delicata Squash and Shishito Peppers

Slide pizza into stone, close grill or oven door and let the stone work its magic. Two or three minutes on the grill is all it takes. The oven calls for at least six minutes. Pizza should have puffy rims and the underside should be flecked with brown specs.

Repeat process with other two mounds of dough. Or refrigerate dough for a few days. This recipe makes three long rectangles or four individual pies.

Remove crisp pizza to a wooden board, slice and eat. 

Margharita Pizza

Suzanne's recipe is perfection. She too is a fellow blogger who responds with alacrity to her messages!  I can't thank her enough for this extensively researched book. Using leftovers I layer Brie, Sweet Potato Pizza, Delicata Squash and Shishito Peppers on one pie. I make another simple Margharita with Korean Steak. (Florida companions..note the judicious use of leftovers) We make pizza assembly style seamlessly. In no time at all we sit down to pizza with a crackling crust. The underside browns perfectly. You can hear the rustle of browned crust as the pizza comes off the grill. Looks like a pie from Marta's. This restaurant style thin crust pizza has us eating out of our hands!


  1. this looks amazing! can't wait to make it.

  2. I have always used this recipe..but use an oven..as we don't have a grill...but when I found that the pizza peel wouldn't work...even with semolina...I just put baking paper beneath it...I even roll it out on the paper...then you just slide the pizza onto the stone..and pull it off when ready...works like a charm...the lady at the store actually told me to do this instead of buying an $80 pizza peel...she said she always used baking paper...so that was very nice of her and sooo true...so if using an oven..always use paper...semolina or anything else...just makes a big mess..and I found the pizza never just slid off the peel...it always stuck somewhere..give it a try!!

  3. I'm sorry the peel didn't work for you. It's an acquired art! Good to know that paper can be substituted. Btw, peels are not that expensive in the US. You could use a wooden chopping board as well. Use a lot of cornmeal or flour. Try not to keep the dough on the peel for more than 5 minutes. All this is redundant if you love your oven method! I will try the paper method too. Thanks.

  4. Looks awesome, thanks for sharing. :)
    Please also check Best Pizza Maker For Home Use as well.

    1. Thanks! I will, though I trust my Baking Steelimplicitly!