We used to make thick, gooey pizzas laoded with meats and cheeses. Now they seem heavy and rich to us. And we can’t find them on the “How I’m Going to Live to be 101” diet plan.
Now we go with faster, healthier pizzas. We much prefer lighter pizzas, especially in the summertime. We love pizzas made with fresh vegetables, fewer toppings, and a crispy crust–healthier pizzas with thin crusts, light on the cheese and heavy on the veggies. In this article, we’ll tell you how to make better, healthier pizzas and do it in 15 to 20 minutes—including the baking time.
The secret’s in the thin crust. Thin crusts don’t have to rise and they bake in minutes. Sounds simple. But the gluten in the dough makes the elastic and hard to work—it springs back. It’s hard to get a really thin, uniform crust that will bake quickly. The commercial bakeries have a magic ingredient—it’s call dough relaxer. Dough relaxer relaxes the strands of gluten so they are not so spring-like and make the dough soft and easy to work. With dough relaxer, you can roll the dough as thin as you like, as thin as a cracker.
It’s possible to get a thin crust without relaxer but relaxer makes it much easier.
You can go three ways: Buy dough relaxer and add a little to your favorite recipe, buy a flour blend with dough relaxer in it, or buy pizza mixes that include dough relaxer.
- See a selection of pizza dough mixes with dough relaxer >>
- Learn more about dough relaxer >>
- Check out this pizza flour blend with dough relaxer >>
How thin do we roll the dough? One of our pizza mixes makes a 15-inch thick crust pizza. To make thin crust pizzas, we split the dough three ways and make three pizzas.
And you need to bake ‘em hot to get ‘em crisp. You need a hot oven and you need to pipe heat to the bottom of the crust. That’s best done with a pizza stone or a perforated pizza pan. The perforations let the heat through for crisp crusts and no more soggy bottoms. A pizza stone puts direct heat on the crust. Debbie prefers pizza stones. I, Dennis, prefer perforated pizza pans. Either will do.
- “See What Should I Buy—a Pizza Stone or a Pizza Pan?” >>
- See “A Buyer’s Guide to Perforated Pizza Pans” >>
How to do it
Mix the dough, roll it out, load it up and bake it. Because it’s thin, you don’t need to let it rise. Because it’s thin, it bakes in a hurry. Because it’s made with yeast, you’ll get some inflation while you’re handling the dough, while you’re loading on the toppings, and while it’s baking. That’s enough. It’ll be crisp and light, a delightful platform for your toppings.
We use our pizza dough mixes mixed in a stand-type mixer with a dough hook. These are just-add-water mixes that take about three minutes to mix while we are assembling and chopping the veggies. Debbie, who uses a pizza stone, rolls her crusts on the counter, loads them, and transfers then to the oven and hot pizza stone with a pizza peel. I roll the dough right in the pan with a little pizza roller.
When the crusts are formed, we sprinkle them with cheese, and stick them in the oven. With a hot stone or a perforated pan, the crusts are cooked in minutes and the cheese is melted. Time to serve.
What you’ll need
Either a perforated pizza pan or a pizza stone will bake crispy, thin crusts. I’m a real believer in perforated pans, pans that will let the hot air through to cook the crust regardless of the toppings—no more soggy crusts.
I won’t live without my little pizza roller. I’m surprised how many times I use it for other than pizzas but since I’m not coordinated enough to toss a pizza dough, my roller is essential. Pizza cutters are handy too. We sprinkle Zesty Pizza and Pasta Spice on most of our pizzas.
What to load them with
It’s amazing what you can put on a pizza. You can serve many of your favorite garden vegetables on a pizza, everything from tomatoes to potatoes and broccoli to beans. Some may seem a little strange but if you like the veggies, chances are—you’ll like them on a pizza.
Most pizzas are made with a red sauce, a marinara sauce, but it doesn’t have to be a red sauce. White pizzas are made with a white sauce, Alfredo, ranch dressing, or the onion dip you purchase at the grocery store or simply a nice coating of olive oil. You need enough that your pizza is not dry but no more, especially if you want a crispy crust.
Tomato and Basil Thin Crust Pizza
While most of the time, we load all of our toppings on the crust and bake, with fresh tomatoes, we make an exception placing the tomatoes on the pizza for only the last few minutes. We prefer fresh tomatoes to cooked
Instead of a tomato base of marina sauce, we use a French onion dip and like it very much. This is a great pizza.
1 thin pizza crust, about 14 inches
5 tablespoons French onion dip
1 teaspoon Zesty Italian spice blend or other
5 medium-sized red and yellow tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves snipped into pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/8 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
2 teaspoons virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Bake the crust for about ten minutes, until it starts to brown. Remove it from the oven.
- Spread the onion dip on the baked crust. Sprinkle the spice blend evenly over the onion dip.
- Cut the tomatoes into quarter-inch thick slices. Lay them on paper towels as you cut them to soak up part of the juice.
- Layer the tomatoes on the crust. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the freshly cut basil over the tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil. Spread the parmesan cheese over the tomato slices.
- Return the pizza to the oven. Bake only until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about five minutes. Serve hot.
Summer Squash Thin Crust Pizza
This is another great thin crust pizza that you can make in a hurry.
The squash cooks more quickly than the peppers and onions so we partially cook the onions and peppers in the microwave until they are crisp-tender. Then we load all the veggies on the crust at ounce.
This is a surprising pizza and an excellent way to use the zucchini that grows so abundantly in your garden. Because it’s a mild-tasting pizza, even your kids will eat it.
1 thin pizza crust
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium crookneck squash, sliced
1/2 medium red pepper, chopped
1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup marinara or red pizza sauce
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Zesty Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Form a very thin pizza crust, one that will cook quickly in the oven.
- Spread the crust with the marinara sauce on the unbaked crust. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Toss the vegetables in olive oil.
- Layer the vegetables over the marina distributing them evenly. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables. Spread the cheese over the vegetables.
- Place the pizza in the oven and bake for eight to twelve minutes or just until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted and bubbly.