Earlier this month, Lea Richards wrote in with reminiscences of a pizza served at the Dakota Bakery in the 1990s, which she described as thin-crusted and (a bit) greasy. So far, that particular pizza is lost in time, but Jean Robinson did send in her favourite recipe for thin-crust pizza dough. I also sourced a recipe for basic pizza sauce for anyone looking to make their own homemade pizza.
This week, a reader named Monique is looking for a recipe for the seven-grain salad sold at Safeway delis. If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, fax it to 204-697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.
Thin Pizza Crust
250 ml (1 cup) lukewarm water (38-43 C, 100-110 F)
5 ml (1 tsp) granulated sugar
15 ml (1 tbsp) active dry yeast
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil or vegetable oil
675 ml (2 3/4 cups) sifted all-purpose flour (or see tester's notes)
Measure water into medium bowl, stir in sugar. Sprinkle in yeast, allow to stand 10 minutes, then stir. Add salt and olive or vegetable oil. Stir in 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) of the flour and beat until smooth. Add the remainder of the flour and stir well. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. (Exactly 10 minutes does it for Jean.) Shape into ball and place in warm greased bowl, brush top with additional oil. Cover and let stand at room temperature, about 21 C (70 F), until double in bulk. Punch down and divide into two. (This recipe makes two large pizzas.) Roll out using a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface until very thin. Preheat oven to 205 C (400 F). Bake the crusts for 3-4 minutes (on baking stones, Jean emphasizes) before adding any toppings.
Tester's notes: I managed to get a nice thin, crisp crust with this dough. (Because it is thin, be careful not to overbake once the toppings are on.)
Jean usually uses a mix of one-third whole-wheat flour and two-thirds white flour, and still gets a really crispy crust with great flavour. She always makes a double batch, and if you do the pre-baking, crusts may be frozen without losing that crisp quality.
Thicker pizza crusts are often stretched by hand, but Jean recommends a rolling pin for getting the crust thin. (Another reader told me he makes dough for flatbreads with a pasta roller attachment.) Jean also swears by her baking stones as the secret to a crispy crust. Most baking stones need to be put in the cold oven and allowed to heat up with the oven.
Simple Homemade Pizza Sauce
15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
15 ml (1 tbsp) minced garlic
5 ml (1 tsp) dried oregano
2 x 398 ml (14 oz each) cans diced tomatoes (undrained)
5 ml (1 tsp) granulated sugar
1-2 ml (1/4- 1/2 tsp) red pepper flakes
2 ml (1/2 tsp) kosher salt or a scant 2 ml (1/2 tsp) table salt
Pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and oregano and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper and increase the heat to medium. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 90 minutes. Allow the sauce to cool to a safe temperature and then, using an immersion blender or working in batches with a blender, blend until fairly smooth.
Tester's notes: This is a good all-purpose pizza sauce (adapted from kitchentreaty.com).Most recipes are better with fresh herbs, but the sharp taste of dried oregano might actually work better in this sauce. (If using fresh, increase the amount to 15 ml, or 1 tbsp, and add just at the end of cooking.) Add the red pepper flakes carefully if you're not sure how much heat you want. I used San Marzano tomatoes, whose low acidity is good for sauces. If you prefer a chunkier sauce, you can skip the puréeing.