The American style of pizza runs the gamut, from the thick Chicago crust to the thin New York crust to the latest keto veggie version. Pizza is a versatile main course that suits most tastes, though the topping choices can be a point of conflict. Please note that debates about pineapple will not be included.
Biscuits can be made with yeast or with baking soda/powder. While baking soda/powder biscuits are quicker to make in biscuit form, they’re rather crumbly. If you are not a confident baker when it comes to using yeast, you can make a serviceable baking powder crust.
Do be aware that baking powder dough doesn’t stretch; this generally won’t make a slice of pizza that you can pick up and hold. However, if you like skillet or Sicilian-style pizza, baking powder crusts can be quite tasty. The remainder of this article will refer to yeast-based doughs.
Yeast to Flour Ratio
Yeast biscuits and bread are made with the same ratio of yeast to flour. A yeast-based pizza crust will need less yeast; it doesn’t need to rise, but it does need to stretch. You can make a basic pizza crust with biscuit dough.
Yeast is a living thing and needs to be fed before it can go to work for you. To proof yeast, simply mix it into a solution of warm water and a form of sugar. About 100 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
One teaspoon of sugar is plenty; just make sure you mix the water and sugar well so the yeast doesn’t miss out on the available sugar energy.
If your water is too hot, you’ll kill the yeast; too cold and the yeast won’t get excited at all. Let the mixture stand for about 10 minutes and look for bubbles. If you get no bubbles, you may have old yeast.
Place your dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Do make sure to weigh your flour rather than measuring by cup, and follow all sifting instructions.
Create a well in the center for any recommended oil and your proofed yeast. Add the liquid slowly and mix with your hands so you can pull dough off the edge and keep it all blended into the dough ball.
Once mixed, you can knead the dough on a floured board for up to ten minutes. The goal is to build gluten bindings so the yeast, which is still bubbling, will generate gases within the gluten bindings for an even rise.
Poorly kneaded dough will create odd air pockets that will can lead to burns in your crust or your biscuits.
If you have a decent batch of biscuit dough that has gone through the first rising, tear off an 8-ounce chunk and put it to proof for an hour in a separate spot.
Next, oil your hands and your pizza pan. You need to stretch the dough without tearing it and that means letting your hands slide rather than stick.
Use a pale olive oil for this step. You don’t want an oil that is too dark as this oil may burn rather than toast your pizza crust.
Stretch it over the pan as far as it will go; if you notice tears, pull a bit of dough off the edges where it’s thicker and create a patch before letting the dough rest again.
After the final rest, do one more stretch to the edge of the pan. Prebake the crust as directed by the biscuit dough recipe, keeping an eye on the oven to avoid burns where the dough is thinnest.
If you’re not an experienced bread dough maker, consider making your first pizza dough creation in a dual wall sheet cake pan. First of all, the dough will be less likely to burn.
Secondly, if you didn’t get a good ridge on the edge of your dough, you will be able to add ingredients without spilling all over your oven.
Bread and biscuits are generally to be baked at about 450 degrees Fahrenheit for a basic white flour recipe. This temperature is good for pizza crust as well, but it’s a good idea to leave a decent gap between the top element and the dough.
Baking stones are lovely tools for those with some experience, but a stone with no edge can make a terrible mess if your toppings run amok in the baking process.
Again, a lipped sheet cake or jellyroll pan may be the best idea when starting out. If that makes too big a pizza for your clan, stretch out a smaller ball of dough in a cast iron pan.
Cast iron holds heat beautifully. Once you know that your crust is done and you’re ready to add toppings, have everything ready and load the crust immediately when you take it out of the oven.
The crust will continue to bake or at least brown inside the pan while you load it with sauce, cheese, and toppings. Leave your hot pad or pot holder on top of the handle so you don’t try to pick up the skillet bare-handed!