Pizza night is sacred in my house and comes with a number of stipulations. It must be Friday, it must be thin-crust, and it must be really cheesy. There needs to be some pepperoni, but not too much. The crust should be browned, but definitely not charred. Some of us insist on extra red sauce for dipping; others clamor for a white pie.
Since we’re a high-maintenance bunch, we usually make our own pizza rather than order out (plus, it’s so much cheaper). Most of the time it’s the ATK staff favorite long-proof dough developed by test kitchen alum and pizza master Andrew Janjigian, which gets its complex flavor and supreme extensibility by hanging out in the fridge for a few days.
But when I don’t get around to making dough in advance, this recipe (another Janjigian classic) is my fallback. It’s a one-hour pizza, start to finish, and thanks to a handful of smart tricks, the dough is stunningly workable and flavorful.
Here’s a breakdown of how it works.
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Keys to Great Pizza in an Hour
Good pizza dough tastes subtly yeasty and tangy and is extensible enough to stretch easily—qualities that the dough develops as it ferments in the refrigerator, ideally for 24 hours or longer. It’s during this slow, cold rise that the yeast creates fermented and acidic flavor compounds (alcohols, aldehydes, and esters) while enzymes in the flour go to work on the gluten, snipping some bonds to make the dough supremely extensible.
Shortcutting the fermentation process usually makes for dough that’s harder to stretch (if you’ve ever experienced dough “snapping back,” you understand what I mean) and bland. But with the following adjustments, we were able to approximate the flavor and texture of long-fermented dough in a fraction of the time.
Add Extra Liquid and Yeast
More liquid makes dough more extensible. Whereas our typical thin-crust dough contains a moderately high 63 percent water (which means about 6.3 ounces of water for every 10 ounces of flour), we raise the hydration of this dough to 70 percent to make it easier to stretch.
More yeast makes the dough rise faster—but loading up on it can also make the dough taste overly yeasty rather than complex. This dough contains 2 teaspoons: It’s substantially more than we use in our conventional thin-crust formula so that this dough rises quickly, but not so much that its flavor is overt and overwhelming.
Use Warm Water
Yeast is dormant until it comes into contact with water, which activates it. At that point, it feeds on sugars in flour, building flavor and releasing carbon dioxide that leavens dough. But water temperature dramatically affects yeast activity: Hot (130 degrees and higher) water will kill it, while cold water will slow it down. To make the rise as speedy as possible, we use warm water.
Shortcut Fermented Flavor with Beer and Vinegar
The yeast in this dough doesn’t have enough time to create complex flavors, so we add beer and vinegar. Beer (a mild lager such as Budweiser or Stella Artois works well) contains some of the complex, acidic flavors created by yeast fermentation, and vinegar (which is also made by fermentation) provides subtle appealing tang.
Use a Combination of Bread and Semolina Flours
Bread and semolina flours are both high in protein, but they work differently: The former creates a strong, elastic gluten network that gives the dough good structure and chew; the latter’s gluten network is less elastic, so the dough doesn’t snap back as much. Semolina also holds a lot of water, which translates to more bubbles formed throughout the dough when the water turns to steam during baking and, in turn, a crisper, airier crust.
Proof Once After Shaping
Instead of proofing this dough twice as we typically would for a thin-crust dough, proof it once to save time. And to avoid deflating the dough by shaping after proofing, shape the rounds directly after mixing the dough and then let them proof for 30 minutes.
Roll, Don’t Stretch
The just-mixed dough is too sticky and tight to stretch by hand, so we force it into shape by rolling it with a pin. To prevent sticking and to keep the dough moist as it proofs, sandwich each dough portion between two sheets of oiled parchment paper.
Blast the Baking Stone with the Broiler
For a supercrisp crust, preheat the baking stone at 500 degrees; then, 10 minutes before baking, turn the oven to broil. As soon as the pizza goes into the oven, return the oven to 500 degrees.
How to Make One-Hour Pizza
1. Adjust oven rack 4 to 5 inches from broiler element, set pizza stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees.
2. While oven heats, process bread flour, semolina flour, yeast, and sugar in food processor. With processor running, pour warm water, lager, vinegar, and oil through feed tube and process until just combined. Let dough stand for 10 minutes.
3. Add salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and gently knead until smooth. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces and shape each into smooth ball.
4. Spray circle in center of large sheet of parchment paper with nonstick spray. Place 1 ball of dough in center of parchment. Spray top of dough with nonstick spray. Using rolling pin, roll dough into 10-inch circle. Cover with second sheet of parchment. Using rolling pin and your hands, continue to roll and press dough into 11½-inch circle. Set aside and repeat rolling with second ball of dough. Let dough stand at room temperature until slightly puffy, 30 minutes.
5. Top and bake pizza.