Craftsy

Cracker-crust pizza: you’ll need this French dowel rolling pin giveaway WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN

Cracker-crust pizza is so thin the light shines through it

This pizza is so thin and crackly that light shines through it!  It’s much easier to achieve perfection with this Tuscan specialty than you might think. You will need a good rolling pin, and the good folks at JK Adams in Vermont have a terrific French dowel rolling pin that we like (especially the thinner 1 1/2″ model), and they’re providing five of them  to give away in a drawing here. We prefer these tapered handle-less pins to the handled straight rollered versions–seems that you get better control of thinly-rolled items…

To enter the drawing for the rolling pin: anyone posting a comment to this post will automatically be entered–we’re giving away one of these pins to five lucky winners. Contest closes and winners will be selected seven days after this original post. Usual rules apply (we’ll need your e-mail to notify you, we’ll only ship to a U.S. address, only one entry allowed, and you must respond within 24 hours if you’re a winner). Winners have been chosen and notified…

Everyone knows that cracker-crust pizza needs to be stretched and rolled really, really thin in order to get a crunchy and super-thin result.  But before you even start with that, two things to do:

  1. Pre-heat your oven for 30 minutes or longer, with a glazed or unglazed baking stone in the bottom third of the oven, and use the highest heat your oven allows (for me that’s 550 degrees F). It actually takes my stone about 40 minutes to completely preheat–guaranteeing a great crust.
  2. Prepare all your toppings before you start stretching the dough:  Otherwise the dough will glue itself to the pizza peel while it’s waiting to be topped and you’ll never get it into the oven.  Today I used a smooth and thick but plain tomato sauce (less than 1/4-cup), and about 1.5 ounces of fresh mozzarella.  Cracker-crust pizzas need very little topping– if you use lots, it won’t crisp and the whole thing may turn to porridge.

In Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day, our cracker-crust pizzas call for a dough-round that’s only 1/16-inch of an inch thick. Maybe there’s someone out there who can do that with their bare hands, but I can’t. I need a rolling pin, and I’ve come to love the handle-less French milled rolling pins, which give you better control in this situation (the JK Adams model in this giveaway is a beauty, milled from super-hard maple). Use a small ball, about 4 ounces (peach-sized) of refrigerated dough from one of our recipes. You need “lean” dough here (those not enriched with eggs and lots of sweetener) from our books: white dough, or the whole-grain are just two examples, see the books for more. Using some whole grain makes it easier to get very thin–plain white dough is the most difficult to stretch because of its gluten-strength. If you use a large ball, you’ll have a very hard time getting it this thin:

cracker crust pizza

(You don’t really have to weigh it, but it can be nice when you’re learning).  Briefly shape it into a ball as in our other posts, and if you have time, let the ball rest under plastic wrap or an overturned bowl at room temperature for up to 60 minutes; that will make it relax and be easier to roll out.  So start with the rolling pin and your fingers…

French-miled rolling pin for cracker-crust pizza

It’s pretty easy to get it to 1/4-inch thick, and then 1/8-inch.  But for my ball of dough today, it needed to get to a diameter of about 14 inches in order for the thickness to be down to 1/16-inch…

Use plenty of flour…

Getting it to 1/16-inch takes a bit of perseverance.  Some tricks:

  1. If it just won’t “relax” and thin out, cover the partially-stretched dough-round with plastic wrap and give the gluten five or ten minutes to relax.
  2. Use the dough’s own stickiness to force it thin:  although you’ll need to dust with lots of flour, allow it to stick to your work surface a little. That pins it down and allows the work surface to oppose its natural tendency to shrink back into its thicker self.
  3. Use a dough scraper: It’s very difficult to make cracker crust without one, because this dough will try to stick to the work surface, and as I say, you want a little of that.  But periodically “un-stick” it, like so:

Dough scraper makes it easier to make cracker-crust pizza

As you gather it up in your other hand, you can see that the top surface is going to need lots of dusting flour.  Don’t be stingy with it; most of it will fall off as you work with it. You know you’re getting close when the dough is looking paper-thin, and draping your hands like a glove:

Cracker-crust, you can see right through it

When you get to 1/16-inch thickness, place the dough-round onto a pizza peel dusted with flour.  Periodically shake the peel to be sure that you’re not sticking.  Start with the sauce; you can use a spoon, but a pastry brush is quite handy for the thin coating of sauce that’s called for here:

Minimal sauce on cracker-crust pizza

… OK, maybe a little more than that, but don’t overdo it:

In our pizza book, our cracker-crust pizzas don’t call for the big cheese chunks that work so nicely on Neapolitan-thickness pizza– go for grated cheese if you’re using commercial mozzarella, or small pieces of fresh mozzarella as in these pictures (you really can’t grate the fresh stuff, it just disintegrates). And not so much– 1.5 ounces is enough here:

… so you’re spacing the cheese a little. Now slide it onto the pre-heated stone (more on that technique in the book).  Hopefully the 30-minutes preheat was enough, but if you’re not getting the crispiness you like, next time preheat for up to an hour:

In my oven, which runs hot (and I’m never getting that fixed), this was ready in 5 minutes.  If your oven runs cooler, you’ll need more time, but check early– this is thin stuff and you don’t want it burning. Check your oven with a thermometer or it can be challenging to get the crispiness you want. A little scorching is OK– see the blackened bits on the underside and at the edge, and yes, the light should shine through it:

Give my regards to Siena!

Pin It

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with others using one of the social sharing buttons above. Thanks, Jeff and Zoë

Craftsy

179 thoughts on “Cracker-crust pizza: you’ll need this French dowel rolling pin giveaway WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN

  1. Lovely! I have not used this type of rolling pin and often wondered if I’d find myself preferring the style. New to “cracker-crust” pizza, so looking forward to trying this recipe.

  2. Hey Jeff/Zoe what size standmixer do you guys recommend? I usually make single batches of several of the doughs in ABin5, but would like the capacity/strength to handle the occasional double batch. Should I be looking at 4, 5, 6, or 7qt machines? Jeff I remember you posting about getting a 6qt machine, I’m wondering if you’ve found that sufficient or if you’re wishing for a different size?

    • Hi Jason,

      I have the 5-quart and find it perfect for a single batch of dough and just about anything else I need to make. As you said, Jeff has the 6-quart and I know he finds it a little big for his typical baking needs.

      Thanks, Zoë

  3. I want to let you know that my rolling pin arrived today.

    Thank you again for the chance to win this. I guess this means that pizza better be on the menu this week.

  4. I tried making a thin crust pizza with the kind of rolling pin that spins and I found myself letting go go the handle and pushing and rolling the center part to have better control of pressure, spin and stretching. It was a lot of work. So, I think the natural evolution is this dowel rolling pin!

    I also want to say that We have now bought 8 of your books. My hubby got me all the others after I went wild with the first one. Then I had to buy each of my sisters and my mom one,

    My proudest moment, after gushing over the phone to my mom about how great my bread was turning out,was to let her judge for herself. I took her a loaf.

    She is 80, very honest, and has been baking her whole life so when delight spread ever her face at the first bite I jumped, literally, into the air! Finally, after 52 years of fighting my five siblings for her approval and attention I got it LOL!

    She texted me a pic of her loaf she just made herself from the book yesterday and where she is normally humble she said “I made the absolute perfect loaf!”

    We sure are having a load of fun. thank you so much! This is life changing stuff,

    I love you both.

    Celeste

    • Hi Celeste,

      Thank you so very much for this lovely note, it made my day! I’m thrilled that you and your family are enjoying the bread.

      Cheers, Zoë

  5. Jeff, Kelly and I were at your bread baking class at Linden Hills. Can you please tell me again what you said you use for the sauce for the pizza you made? Was it whole or crushed tomatoes, warmed and smashed a bit with a spoon?

    • Either works, though the crushed is less work, because you don’t have to crush it or food-process it after the fact to get a smooth sauce. A smooth sauce is easier to work with, but a chunky sauce is also good (so long as you thicken it by boiling down).

      Either way, boil it down to thicken it before using, since otherwise there’s too much water in the sauce and the crust will be soggy.

      • Hi Jeff,
        Another pizza question: for the Chicago style pan pizza…I ordered the jelly roll pans that you link to at Amazon, thinking they were the ones used for that pizza. They seemed a bit big to me; are those the ones you generally use? If so, how much of the basic recipe dough does one use for a pan that size?
        Thank you,
        Kate

      • No, we use the pan specified in the pizza book. For the jelly roll pan? Hmm, never used those for a very-thick crust pizza, but “Sicilian” style would take about 2 pounds.

  6. HI. I have all your books, Artisan, Healthy, Pizza and gluten free. I just got an outdoor wood fired oven. Do you suggest any modifications to your pizza or whole wheat recipes? My favorite recipes are Betsy’s Seeded Oat bread (Healthy Bread P147). Rosemary Flax (p89, Healthy Bread). I love the Master recipe (pg 61) of your Pizza in 5 book. I would like to bake these items in my outdoor pizza oven. Let me know what your experience has been

    • Hi Christine,

      How wonderful, you are going to love it. There is nothing you need to change for the pizza, although you’ll want to bake it at the highest temperature you can get out of your oven, which is much higher than the 550°F we suggest in the book. At 800°F the pizza will take just a few minutes and you’ll need to rotate it. The crust will be amazing!

      For breads you’ll want to cover them while they are baking. You can use a Dutch Oven or just cover the loaf with a large metal bowl or pan. You’ll uncover it at the end. Obviously you don’t want the oven as hot for the breads, but if it is hotter than 450°F just keep an eye on it. I’ve done it at 500°F and had wonderful results.

      Thanks, Zoë

  7. You guys need to try the Super Peel Pro to quit worrying about transferring a sticky dough to a pizza stone! It works flawlessly and keeps the dough shape you intended.

    I prefer using this peel because I don’t have to rely on flour or cornmeal, or parchment paper to transfer the dough. I have less cleaning to do from the flour and/or cornmeal spilling all over the counter, the floor, and the oven. And, it is definitely cheaper than using parchment paper.

    • We have tried it, see our post, at: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2015/03/16/super-peel-giveaway. Personally, I find this to be a Rube Goldberg approach– I never have a problem with pizza or loaves sticking to the peel and I have a lot of experience with how much flour or cornmeal to use so it doesn’t make a mess in the oven. That said, I’ve spent a lot of time baking pizza and bread, and there is a skill to it. I’m just kind of anti-gadget; I like to keep things simple. If there isn’t a problem, I don’t buy a SuperPeel or other gadgets. If I was having a problem, I’d certainly consider it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *