Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A terrific homemade pizza crust,
created without fuss (or yeast)

I must admit I’ve stayed away from making fresh pizza crusts because of the ever-present yeast component.
   After the failure of some homemade buns a couple of years ago, I’ve stayed away from making things with yeast.
   When flipping through a Cook’s Country magazine publication recently, Skillet Suppers, I found a recipe for an alternative to a homemade pizza crust that could be made without yeast: Thin-Crust Skillet Pizza (click for the recipe)..
   The recipe promised a thin, crispy crust that could be made quickly in a food processor. The active ingredient? Beer.
   You can bet I wanted to give it a try right away.
   My husband and I made it for the first time on Sunday, and were very impressed.
   The crust was indeed thin, crispy and super easy to make. The toppings were perfect.
   Cook’s Country recommends using Newcastle Brown ale, or any other full-flavored ale, for the crust.
   The recipe I linked to above is on a blog, but the dough/crust recipe is exactly the same as the one we used.
   The combination of toppings is the one primarily offered by Cook’s Country magazine and is very likely amazing, but we tried a delicious variation of four plum tomatoes tossed with ½ tsp salt, one cup of shredded fontina cheese, ½ cup crumbled goat cheese, two ounces chopped prosciutto and ½ cup finely-chopped fresh basil.
   The dough and toppings provide comfortably for two nine-inch pizzas.
   The dough is made by combining flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a food processor, then adding 1/3 cup beer and one tablespoon of oil slowly through the chute at the top.
   The dough is processed until it pulls away from the sides and forms a shaggy ball, about one minute (I found my dough formed three small spheres. I simply combined them into one with my hands.) The dough is covered loosely with plastic wrap and left to rest for 10 minutes.
   The dough is divided in half, and each half is rolled into a very thin nine-inch round.
   Olive oil is heated in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until just smoking. A dough round is transferred to the skillet and cooked until the bottom is deep golden brown and crisp, three to four minutes (air bubbles are poked out with a fork during cooking).
   The dough is flipped and sprinkled with toppings. The heat is reduced to low and the pizza is cooked, covered, until the second side is crisp and cheeses have melted, about five minutes.
   The pizza is transferred to a cutting board, and a second is made with the other half of the dough and toppings.
   To keep the first pizza warm while the second was being made, we put it on a plate and put it into the oven at a very low heat.

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