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How to Make Thin-Crust Pizza

Why this recipe works New York–style pizza is something special: It has a thin, crisp, and spottily charred exterior, and it’s tender yet chewy within. But with home ovens that reach only 500 degrees and dough that’s impossible to stretch thin, the savviest cooks struggle to produce parlorquality pies. In pursuit of the perfect crust at home, we made the dough fairly wet so it was easy to stretch. This also allowed it to retain moisture. This dough was the perfect candidate to knead in the food processor—wet but not too loose. The blade’s rapid action turned the dough elastic in just about a minute (after a brief rest). This dough was easy to stretch, but it puffed in the oven and was a little bland. The solution was to employ a slow, cold fermentation by chilling the dough in the refrigerator for a day or so instead of letting it rise on the counter. This kept the bubbles in the dough tighter, and it created more flavor via the prolonged production of sugar, alcohol, and acids. Adding oil and sugar to the dough encouraged more crunch and color, but the oven rack placement really gave us the crust we were looking for. Most recipes call for placing the pizza on the bottom rack, close to the heating element. That browns the bottom but dries out the crust. Situating the baking stone on the highest rack mimicked the shallow chamber of a commercial pizza oven, in which heat rises, radiates off the top of the oven, and browns the pizza before the interior dries out. Shape the second dough ball while the first pizza bakes, but don’t top the pizza until right before you bake it. If you add more toppings, keep them light or they may weigh down the thin crust. The sauce will yield more than is needed in the recipe; extra sauce can be refrigerated for up to one week or frozen for up to one month.

  • makes two 13-inch pizzas
  • resting time 1 hour 10 minutes
  • rising time 24 hours
  • baking time 16 minutes
  • total time 26½ hours, plus 5 minutes cooling time
  • key equipment food processor, baking stone, pizza peel

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dough

  • 3 cups (16½ ounces) bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1⅓ cups (10⅔ ounces) ice water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1½ teaspoons salt

sauce and toppings

  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated fine (½ cup)
  • 8 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 cups)

1). For the dough Pulse flour, sugar, and yeast in food processor until combined, about 5 pulses. With processor running, slowly add ice water and process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

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2). Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of bowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly oiled counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 3 days.

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3). For the sauce and toppings Process tomatoes, oil, garlic, vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper in clean, dry workbowl until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to 2-cup liquid measuring cup and add reserved tomato juice until sauce measures 2 cups. Reserve 1 cup sauce; set aside remaining sauce for another use.

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4). One hour before baking, adjust oven rack 4 inches from broiler element, set baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Press down on dough to deflate. Transfer dough to clean counter, divide in half, and cover loosely with greased plastic. Pat 1 piece of dough (keep remaining piece covered) into 4-inch round. Working around circumference of dough, fold edges toward center until ball forms.

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5). Flip ball seam side down and, using your cupped hands, drag in small circles on counter until dough feels taut and round and all seams are secured on underside. (If dough sticks to your hands, lightly dust top of dough with flour.) Repeat with remaining piece of dough. Space dough balls 3 inches apart, cover loosely with greased plastic, and let rest for 1 hour.

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6). Heat broiler for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, coat 1 dough ball generously with flour and place on wellfloured counter. Using your fingertips, gently flatten into 8-inch round, leaving 1 inch of outer edge slightly thicker than center. Using your hands, gently stretch dough into 12-inch round, working along edge and giving disk quarter turns.

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7). Transfer dough to well-floured pizza peel and stretch into 13-inch round. Using back of spoon or ladle, spread ½ cup tomato sauce in even layer over surface of dough, leaving ¼-inch border around edge. Sprinkle ¼ cup Parmesan evenly over sauce, followed by 1 cup mozzarella.

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8). Slide pizza carefully onto baking stone and return oven to 500 degrees. Bake until crust is well browned and cheese is bubbly and partially browned, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating pizza halfway through baking. Transfer pizza to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Heat broiler for 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough, sauce, and toppings, returning oven to 500 degrees when pizza is placed on stone.

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problem The crust lacks flavor.

solution Let the dough rise for a full day.

For crust as good as that found in New York City, we employ a cold fermentation and let the dough rise in the refrigerator instead of on the counter. Don’t take shortcuts; let the dough chill for a minimum of 24 hours or up to 3 days. This slow fermentation is essential for flavor development; it is during this time that more complex sugars, alcohols, and acids develop. It also keeps the air bubbles uniform.

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