Finding the right hard pizza crust is like finding the perfect pair of jeans- you may not find one that fits all, but you will definitely find ones that fit well!
That is what it can be like trying to make your own homemade pizza. You start with dough, sauce, and sometimes cheese, then top it with some raw vegetables or fruits and bake!
Sadly, most recipes for making your own pizza only tell you how to make the toppings, but never mention what kind of dough to use nor do they talk about whether to warm up the oven before baking.
Mix and match ingredients to your taste
As mentioned before, having a hard or crispy crust is not necessarily a bad thing. Some people love it and it can be fun to experiment with different toppings and recipes to get that beautiful crunchy texture.
However, just because you like something doesn’t make it good for you.
Many of these high-crust pizzas contain very little olive oil or fat in general. And while cheese will always satisfy your hunger, too much saturated fat can increase cholesterol levels and cause heart problems.
So, if you are craving pizza but want to watch how much sugar and sodium you eat, then making thin-or even soft-bread pizza may be the better option.
You can also try baking the dough as close to the flame side of the oven as possible to achieve this.
In baking, oils play an important role in creating thin, crisp crusts. When baking pizza, there are two main types of oils that you can add into your dough.
Oils with milk as the base (like olive or melted butter) will help create a thinner, softer crumb- this is how most breads work! Oils with sugar as the base (like coconut or sunflower oil) will aid in browning, which gives some flavor to the finished product.
The trick here is to use just enough to achieve our goals, but not too much! Too much oil may result in greasy toppings and/or soggy crust. We recommend using around a teaspoon of oil per one batch of dough.
When baking pizza, what kind of crust you have depends largely on how much moisture is in the dough. If there are not enough dry ingredients, your pizza will likely turn out thin and crispy, which may be fine if you like that style!
If the dough seems very wet, however, then that mattercks little about whether it rises properly before collapsing. Since cheese usually takes up most of the space in the oven when cooking pizzas, this can sometimes result in some leftover cheese or even burnt bits.
To avoid this, we suggest adding a few tablespoons of water to the dough to help create a soft, fluffy crust. Mixing the dough with a spoon will also work well since the handle of the spoon acts as an additional source of liquid for the dough.
Roll out and bake
When it comes down to it, good pizza dough is pretty easy to make! Most recipes for homemade pizza dough contain yeast as an ingredient, which helps the dough rise and expand when mixed with warm liquid ingredients.
Yeast is most likely used in combination with wheat flour, water, and a rising agent such as milk or bread powder. When combined together, these three components will create the protein that helps the yeast grow.
After mixing the yeast into the liquid component of the recipe, you must let the mixture sit until the yeast activates and froths up. This takes about five minutes depending on the temperature of the kitchen!
Once this happens, you can mix the dry ingredients into the yeast and liquid mixture. Let the dough rest again so the yeast has time to settle and foam up before being kneaded to shape the dough.
When baking the finished pizza-ball shaped piece of dough, there are two main reasons why hard crusts occur. The first is if the oven is too hot! If the dough bakes at very high temperatures, the proteins in the dough may not fully combine and solidify correctly, creating a soft instead of crispy crust.
The second reason is if the pie does not get enough heat during cooking time! Because the dough is part cooked already, it needs additional time to brown and crisp properly.
This article will talk more in depth about how to avoid having a tough or flabby pizza crust.
Make sure the oven is properly calibrated
When baking pizza, there are two main things that can make your crust feel hard or fluffy. One is having an overcooked dough layer, and the other is using a drier or wetter topping material. If you notice that your pie is getting crunchy or lusciously soft when lifting up a piece, then check out how your oven functions!
Baking temperatures vary from place to place, and some recipes may not specify which temperature they want their pizzas to be cooked at. This could cause your pie to bake more quickly in some areas and/or less rapidly in others, resulting in either a tough or buttery crumb.
If you like thinner crispy toppings such as pepperoni or mushrooms, your pies might need additional time in the oven to achieve this.
Use a pan
In addition to using higher dough temperatures, another way to achieve soft or even crispy crusts is to use a baking dish that does not retain heat well. A non-stick pan is ideal for this!
A lot of recipes require crisp toppings like cheese or salami, so it is important to have a sturdy pizza shell to hold up under these conditions. Oven pre-heated dishes are your best bet as they do not retain heat very well. An oven safe glass pie plate works great for this.
Alternatively, you can bake the pizza in a cold oven with an insulated cover. This will take longer than baking in a regular oven, but will ensure it has enough time to set properly before taking out of the stove.
Use a peel
The most important thing to know about making pizza is that there are two main components of the dough-the soft, fluffy part and the hard crust or cheese layer. The soft, fluffy part comes from baking the dough in an open pan or plate for a certain amount of time. This oven temperature and timing is key, as it determines how thin the pizza will be!
The hardest part of the pizza pie comes after this stage, when the breading (to give it its classic crunch) is added onto the pizza. If you have seen videos where people suggest using a fork to add the toppings, that’s because of this hard crust.
What they don’t tell you is that this trick only works if you like very crispy pizza. Because if you like your pizza more melted and creamy, then never use the word “fork” again! 😉
So what are these professionals use to get past this hard crust barrier? A peel! A simple tool used mostly for fruit lifting, a handheld grill/spoon combo is ideal for adding the toppings to a baked good such as pizza.
A universal piece of equipment, you can find ones made of different materials and colors, but all work similarly. You push the spoon into the bottom of the pizza, leaving enough space for the toppings to stick before pulling up the spoon with the top half of the pizza.
Know how to bake with yeast
When baking with yeast, it is important to know what temperature you should be working with your dough. Yeast loves warm temperatures, and when ingredients containing salt also have excess salty ions, this creates an ideal environment for growth.
When baking pizza, there are two main reasons that hard crusts occur. The first is lack of heat- these ovens stay cold due to either not enough energy being transferred into the dough or too much cooling occurring along the length of the cooking chamber. This has a limiting effect on softening the dough down and creating a sturdy base for the pie.
The second reason happens because after the dough dries out, it takes longer for the moisture in the bread to evaporate, leaving thicker layers of dry, tight gluten which then stick together instead of forming softer, thinner strands.
To avoid having crunchy, hard crusts like we mentioned before, make sure to bake the pizza at a moderate temperature for a consistent amount of time. In our case, we recommend setting up a thermometer to ensure that your oven reaches its highest temperature quickly and then lowering the temperature slightly as needed to let the dough cook through.