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Rose Levy Berenbaum Pizza

RLB Pizza Shallow TextureI’ve posted about great pizza doughs before – specifically, the best flavoured and textured pizza, which we* have tried – Alton Brown’s pizza recipe. His method requires planning a day in advance to get the full development of flavour, but it gives you a lovely crispy and chewy crust (balance of crispiness and chewiness dependent on the thickness you choose). Despite our success, however, I have not returned to this dough frequently, simply because the dough was sticky and I am not sure of my kneading and stretching skills. I am yet to see that window-pane in the dough…sigh…but it remains an aim of the family to try this again and again.

RLB Pizza Crust TextureThat doesn’t mean I don’t get great homemade pizza! Our (Lilandra and myself) current go-to recipe for pizza comes courtesy Rose Levy Berenbaum, author of the Bread Bible, from which this recipe is taken. RLB herself noted on her site that her recipe is in fact a no-knead dough recipe!** And therein lies much of the allure of this recipe – no need to knead, a very beginner-friendly method of shaping the dough, and a lovely airy, chewy crust. There are instructions for an overnight rise in the refrigerator, which adds to the flavour, however, I have been reasonably happy with the 2 hour prep method, which is why the recipe is on my shelf next to the Hops Bread recipe because I turn to those even on an evening after work. I suspect the flavour element is helped by the dough having the olive oil layer on the outside of the crust, which coupled with high heat in the oven results in a crispy flavourful outside, with a chewy airy inside!

The recipe makes a 10 inch pizza. My notes are in red.


¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon flour (4 ounces), preferably unbleached all-purpose or Italian-style
½ tsp. instant yeast
½ tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1/3  liquid cup water at room temperature (70 to 90 degrees)
4 tsp. olive oil
(this adds up to quite alot if you are making multiple pizzas, see note on Step 3)

RLB Bread Bible PizzaSteps

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, instant yeast, and sugar. Whisk in the salt (this keeps the yeast from coming into direct contact with the salt, which would kill it).

2. Make a well in the center and pour in the water. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, gradually stir the flour into the water until all the flour is moistened and a dough just begins to form, about 20 seconds. It should come away from the bowl but still stick to it a little, and be a little rough-looking, not silky smooth. Do not overmix, as this will cause the dough to become stickier.

3. Pour the oil into a 2-cup measuring cup (to give the dough room to double in size) or a small bowl. With oiled fingers or an oiled spatula, place the dough in the oiled cup and turn it over to coat on all sides with the oil. Cover it tightly. (You need enough oil to completely coat the dough with some excess visible, so, if you double or triple the recipe, don’t use the full amount of oil in the recipe – estimate it based on your bowl and the dough, otherwise this crust/dough can get really oily)

4. If you want to use the dough soon, allow it to sit at room temperature for 1 hour or until doubled. For the best flavor development, make the dough at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours ahead, and allow it to sit at room temperature for only 30 minutes or until slightly puffy. Then set the dough, still in the measuring cup, in the refrigerator. Remove it 1 hour before you want to put it in the oven. (remember, increased dough-development time means increased flavour!)

5. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees 1 hour before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone on it before preheating. (my oven in Guyana does NOT get hot enough to really make this or any crust really sing! sigh)

6. With oiled fingers, lift the dough out of the measuring cup or bowl. Holding the dough in one hand, pour a little of the oil left in the cup or bowl onto the pizza pan, and spread it all over the pan with your fingers. Set the dough on the pan and press it down with your fingers to deflate it gently. Shape it into a smooth round by tucking under the edges. If there are any holes, knead it very lightly until smooth. (I just shape into a ball, the extra kneading is not usually necessary, but the oil helps with the handling of the dough) Allow the dough to sit for 15 minutes, covered, to relax it.

7. Using your fingertips, press the dough from the center to the outer edge to stretch it into a 10-inch circle, leaving the outer ½ inch thicker than the rest to form a lip. If the dough resists stretching (as will happen if you have activated the gluten by overkneading it), cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for a few minutes longer before proceeding.
(The first few times we did this, we ended up with misshapen, unevenly thin crust, with some holes. It didn’t affect the flavour or texture however awkward it looked. Once you get used to the method, round evenly thick pizzas are achievable)

8. Brush the surface of the dough with any remaining olive oil (I sometimes forget this part). Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to sit for 30 to 45 minutes, until it becomes light and slightly puffy with air.

9. Set the pizza pan directly on the hot stone and bake for 5 minutes.( I don’t have a stone, but I manage)

10. Remove the pan from the oven and spread toppings (such as Pizza Tomato Sauce) over the dough. Return the pan to the stone for 5 minutes or until the toppings have melted and the crust is golden; or, for an extra-crisp and browned bottom crust, using a pancake turner or baker’s peel, slide the pizza from the pan directly onto the stone. After 2 minutes, slip a small metal spatula under one edge of the pizza; if the bottom is golden, raise the pizza to a higher shelf.

11. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board and cut with a pizza wheel, sharp knife, or scissors. Serve hot.

RLB Pizza crusty and cheesyOne of the common elements to be found in Alton Brown’s recipe, Rose Levy Berenbaum’s and even Reinhart, would be that pizza crust requires HIGH HEAT. Pizza ovens are to be like furnaces if you can get that. A baking stone helps with the evenness and retention of heat for the baking surface for pizza, which is why it is recommended, but don’t be turned away by its inclusion in this recipe.

Parbaking is also essential for this crust. It is light and airy, and given the no-knead method and the resulting wetter, looser dough, ANYTHING put on the crust before baking will weigh it down immediately. Trust me. We tried just brushing it with some sauce and watched it sink. Not completely, but enough. You could probably get away with a very light sauce, brushed very lightly…but definitely NO toppings.

This crust also makes a great flatbread – when we topped it with just za’atar, Mom said it reminded her of the khoubz (or Syrian bread) she grew up with.

So, from the Lilandra and Chennette family pizza-test kitchen, try RLB’s pizza dough!


* pizza is a regular family endeavour

** you can visit her site for user comments on the recipe and her responses

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9 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. Yum!! I have bookmarked to try :) Gonna add that book to my wishlist as well :)

    1. The Trinigourmet on March 24th, 2010 at 11:26 am
  2. while the book is actually in Lilandra’s possession, from what I have read she does have a good approach to bread making and explaining the process. unless of course I am mixing it up with Reinhart’s…not being the possessor of that one either!

    2. Chennette on March 24th, 2010 at 3:00 pm
  3. I must try this though (no pun intended) I am looking for a very thin crust Pizza similar to what they serve at La Cantina, Tobago – their pizza is the best in the country.


    3. aka_lol on March 25th, 2010 at 10:56 am
  4. I’ve heard a lot of good things about RLB’s pizza dough and clearly you can attest to it as well.

    I’ve been using Jim Lahey’s (of No-Knead Bread fame) recipe for pizza dough. Actually, when they printed his potato pizza in Gourmet, they made a mistake with the volume measurements though the weight was right, however, I went with the volume which meant that I put 1 tablespoon of yeast in the dough and let me tell you that was an error I am so glad I made because the crust shatters, it’s thin and crisp. One day I just made the crust all by itself, sprinkled some coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, baked and ate it as is, it was that good! :)

    4. Cynthia on March 26th, 2010 at 2:58 pm
  5. Ahhhh, so crisp it shatters sounds like it would be soooo good! Going to try that next time. BTW – the appetizers and lime last night was good – main course, so so, but I didn’t really notice until I thought about it, we were talking so much!

    5. Chennette on March 26th, 2010 at 10:02 pm
  6. My most favourite thing about RLB’s crust is that it tastes good the next morning.

    I like the texture of Reinhart’s but somehow with regards to taste well it just tastes like bread and worse yet the next morning. I feel like it’s hard to chew.

    Granted some might say, next morning?Why?
    Well I don’t believe in doing things by halves and if I’m slaving over a super-hot oven I better got pizza to last me for a bit and RLB’s is awesome.

    Well, the fact that I pop it in the toaster oven probably helps but still I’m not sure if Reinhart’s in the toaster was as good as it was the night before.

    One day we will try one of Alton Brown’s…if we’re up to window-pane

    6. Lilandra on April 3rd, 2010 at 11:20 pm
  7. My favourite way to heat up pizza, especially RLB’s (the oil can get soggy the next day when your oven doesn’t heat up enough the first baking) is to put it on the tawah and cover with the wok lid. The bottom gets crisp again and the cheese starts to melt again on the top.

    7. Chennette on April 4th, 2010 at 12:28 am
  8. the toaster works because as you no doubt know…who knows where the tawa is in this house

    8. Lilandra on April 5th, 2010 at 2:06 am
  9. Well really…..and what about the plateen….

    10. trinimom on May 3rd, 2011 at 7:50 pm

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  1. […] We made a couple with a biscuit dough like crust (like the one used in my cheese rolls) and 3 from Rose Levy Berenbaum’s recipe. So of course, pizza will be my […]

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