thin and chewy pizza crust

You remember what it was like when you were a kid and you hated to go to bed? You could have just had the best day in your life—a birthday party, playing with friends, swimming, riding bikes, building pretend houses, eating fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, whatever—but when the sun went down, you knew what was coming. No matter how great the last few hours had been, no matter how much joy you’d been offered—and especially no matter what anyone else had told you about thankfulness—there was only one thing on your mind when your mom said to put your pajamas on, and it was a disheartening thing indeed: all this fun had to end.

That’s a little how I feel this morning.

adding mushrooms to pizza

It’s funny to think about, really. I mean, we all look at a child throwing a tantrum before bed and see precisely what he doesn’t, the very factors that would take his fear away: Morning will come, we want to say to him. There’s more fun to be had. And besides, you have to rest; you need it. We know he doesn’t see these things yet, that to him, today feels like eternity, Right Now feels like all that matters. And we know too that he’s greedy, the way we all are, the way I am about many things. Give me a good, long weekend like this last one, for example, filled with pure enjoyment every step of the way, and come Monday morning, Right Now is all I see. It’s not gratitude I’m filled with; though some gratitude is there. What I most fight and what I most feel is the same thing a child deals with who keeps hopping out of bed: wishing I had more.

I also get greedy about food—certain types more than others. Like when I bake a fresh batch of cookies, it doesn’t matter if I’m full, it doesn’t matter if it’s 11 PM; I eat at least four. Really. Or garden vegetables: offer me something from your garden, anytime, and I will take it, gladly, arms wide open, whether or not I know what to do with it, whether or not my fridge is full.

neapolitan-style pizza

But mostly, there is pizza. Is it terrible to admit, in this world of gourmet recipes and expensive ingredients, that it’s still my favorite meal? I won’t eat just any kind anymore, but I’ll eat the kind I like every day of the week. I promise if you give me a slice from Spacca Napoli, I’ll want more. That’s just how me and pizza work.

In my opinion, the key to the right pizza is the crust: it should be thin and chewy, slightly charred around the edges, with dough so translucent you almost see through it and moist enough to fold in half like they do in New York. Toppings are flexible. There’s the classic: tomatoes with basil and mozzarella, also known as Margherita. Or you can go cutting edge with potatoes! or arugula! or a white bean pesto like I had at this restaurant Friday night. Yesterday, after making our crust with white spelt flour (why? results identical to all-purpose but better for you) and in a free-form shape (why? because why not!), we topped it with diced green peppers, thin wisps of onion and sauteed mushrooms, with large rounds of mozzarella throughout.

The idea came from a post at The Kitchen Sink Recipes, which I’d read last April (!) and not forgotten about, and Kristin draws her crust from The Fresh Loaf, where the instructions are so thorough, I really have to point you over there directly.

slices of homemade pizza

We set the oven to 500F, then 525F, then eventually to 540F (who knew my oven went that high?) for our second pizza. Don’t be afraid to do the same: high temperatures are key to getting that blistered, still chewy crust. Other keys I picked up from Kristin: paint the sauce on very thinly, use parchment paper beneath the pizza for an easy lift out, keep your eye on it after five minutes (our first one took 10 minutes at 500 degrees) to watch for golden cheese and browned bread.

I’d also add that vegetables work beautifully as toppings in this style of pizza because the high temperature essentially roasts them, right on the crust, and you know how much I love roasted vegetables.

And anyway, this Monday, while I work on remembering the things that children can’t (I am thankful for the weekend I had, other good weekends will come, today is also a gift and I probably need it just as much as children need sleep), I will do it with at least one reminder of what we just had: a few more slices of this pizza.





Neapolitan-Style Pizza Crust: Recipe here
Our adaptations: white spelt flour instead of all-purpose, an extra few teaspoons of dried basil to give more flavor, Sucanat instead of honey/sugar.

For more tips on this type of pizza, I highly recommend Kristin’s post at The Kitchen Sink.

The proportions of our toppings:

A couple tablespoons of roasted grape tomato sauce*
1/2 a green pepper, diced
4 ounces sliced mushrooms, sauteed in coconut oil
1/4 of a white onion, sliced
1/2 a ball of high-quality mozzarella

*Roasted grape tomato sauce
I made this sauce a week or two ago, when my friend Judy handed me a Ziploc bag filled with grape tomatoes from her garden (you know how I feel about that). I took them home and roasted the full lot with olive oil, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, I sauteed 1/2 an onion (chopped) and a couple cloves of garlic (chopped) with butter, added the roasted tomatoes, added 1/2 to 1 cup of red wine and pureed the whole thing, adding salt and pepper to toast. I know it’s not really a recipe since I didn’t measure the tomatoes, but it gives you a general idea of how to do something similar. So nice to have on hand!

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Maddie

    I am deathly afraid of turning my oven up that high, but if it could get me the kind of results that you got here, I’m all for it. Plus, roasted tomato sauce is the bomb.com, but until now, I’d never thought to use it on pizza! Love it.

    Here’s to many more weekends like the one you just had!

  2. heather @ chiknpastry

    i think i got a little freaked out the first time i turned an oven on that high too, but it’s totally worth it :). i’ll have to try white spelt flour – i’ve used the regular (?) kind for foccacia before with good results. you can’t get enough of pizza, that’s for sure!

  3. Dana

    I’m on a quest to find a good pizza crust recipe, maybe this one will be it? It looks just about right, and sounds like I wish it would be (thin and chewy). I’ll have to give it a try.

    Your pizza looks great!

  4. Angela@spinachtiger

    My husband could eat the “right” kind of pizza every day of the week too. We found a great pizza dough from Marcella Hazan’s book, but I’ll have to try this one too. We do use the hot pizza stone. There is nothing like making your own and this looks so good.

  5. Niki

    omg, I really want pizza now. And there is only beggars near here! eep!
    I will forever love this deep dish pizza form Nick’s Pizza in Chicago Ridge. IT’s not the deep dish that has the sauce on top, it’s thick and doughy w/ a thick layer of cheese on top and all the yummy ingredients underneath… oh man, I can go for some pizza like NOW!

  6. Angharad

    I am identical. With pizza being my favourite, that is. If ever there was a food to crave, pizza is it. I told my husband recently that if I ever am in the situation where a last meal is necessary…pizza it is. Complete agreement on crust too. Phew, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! Thanks for the links – I need to finally make my own!

  7. Shannalee

    Maddie, Do it! It freaked me out a little too, but nothing blew up or set on fire, and I didn’t even burn my hands (which, let’s be honest, I could do on an oven set to 200 degrees).

    Heather, If you liked the whole grain spelt, you’ll love the white kind. Whole grain spelt is even better for you than the white kind, but it tastes a little heartier.

    Rachel, Individual pizzas! I loved those when I was a kid!

    Becky, I love Judy! And if mentioning her in a post means you comment, tell her she’ll be in all of them from now on, ahahaha.

    Dana, And it’s so simple! Try it!

    Angela, Oh, I want a pizza stone so much. I bet that would make this even better!

    Niki, Listen, ME TOO.

    Angharad, Yep, I’d like it for my last meal, too! : ) I hope you try this!

  8. molly

    Indeed! This is exactly how we do ours, hot and heavy, on a baking stone, preheated for an hour as high as our oven will go. Oh, and parchment, yes, is the secret to clean and easy. Gets six people fed on pizza night, here. I’ve got a lovely, local bag of spelt flour. I’ll have to try it out on Friday night, thanks!

  9. Katy

    Shanna, I made this for dinner tonight and loved it!! I’ve attempted homemade pizza several times but this was, by far, the best yet. I had whole grain spelt, so I used that. I’m going to keep my eye out for white spelt though. I think it will help make the crust more chewy. Thanks for all the tips, especially the one about cranking up the temp on the oven.

  10. Shannalee

    Katy, That’s awesome! And the fact that you used whole grain spelt is even better for you, health-wise. I’d love to hear what you think by comparison if you’re able to find white spelt – check the bulk bins at Whole Foods or health stores – I almost always see it there.

  11. Pingback: Cheeseless Crustless Quiche (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free) | Food Loves Writing

  12. Amy Andrews

    Good posts keep on giving! Thanks – been working on pizza recently & love the changes from Reinhardt’s Bread Bakers Apprentice pizza dough to the one you linked. Will write up on my blog & link back. Happy pizza making everyone!

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