There’s a pizzeria in New York City called Patsy’s that makes a crust so perfectly thin, tender, and crispy that I can almost taste it right now, even though I haven’t eaten there in more than two years.  I can’t replicate their pizza, exactly, or at least I haven’t tried.  But as far as my own pizza-making goes, they’ve spoiled me for anything other than homemade dough.

The mounds of dough you can buy in the grocery store (or even from the local pizza place) tend to make thick, bready, chewy crusts.  I generally find them too stiff and resilient and nearly impossible to stretch thin.  The following recipe, by contrast, is wonderfully supple, easy to work with, and produces a light and crunchy crust.

The semolina flour lends a golden color and a nice flavor (it’s what pasta’s made from).  You can substitute bread or high-gluten flour for some or all of the all-purpose flour to make a sturdier dough.  If you have a pizza stone and a peel, you’ll want to keep your crust a little thicker.  If you’re making it thin, take it easy with your toppings — spread them too thick and you’ll end up with a sodden pie.

Semolina pizza dough

Yield:  Makes two very thin, 12-inch, round pizza crusts

3/4 c. warm water

1 pkg. active dry yeast

1 1/3 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour (or use bread flour, if you have it)

2/3 c. semolina flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

1 tsp. granulated sugar

3/4 tsp. fine sea salt

3 tbsp. olive oil

In a small bowl or liquid measure, add yeast to warm water.  Use your fingertips to gently break up clumps of yeast, and stir until dissolved.  Set aside while you measure remaining ingredients.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flours, sugar, and salt.  Add yeast mixture and olive oil, and stir with a wooden spoon until dough comes together into a sticky ball.  Turn out onto a floured counter and knead for a minute or two until dough is smooth and elastic.  Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn once to coat dough with oil.  Cover bowl with a barely damp dish towel or piece of plastic and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.

At this point you can refrigerate the dough in a tightly sealed container for up to a day, freeze for up to 3 months, or stretch it and bake it right away.

To make two round, thin-crust pizzas, divide dough into two balls of equal size.  Flatten balls into discs and, using additional flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking, roll or stretch each disc to fit pan.  Sprinkle each pan lightly with cornmeal, then lay dough in pan.  Top pizzas as desired and bake in a preheated, 425 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, switching pans from top rack to bottom and vice versa halfway through.  (If you have a pizza stone, you can sprinkle the cornmeal on a large, rimless or inverted baking sheet, then slide the pizza from pan to stone.)

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