OK, after about 5 weeks of recipe and technique tweaking, last night I pulled the trigger on this crust and had a couple friends over for a cracker-style pizza dinner. On Thursday I made two batches of Steve's recipe using King Arthur bread flour and my food-processor technique, which I think is way easier than the Kitchenaid method -- I measure 3/4C water, dissolve the yeast in it, then put all the dry ingredients in the food processor and pulse to mix them. Then I add the oil to the water/yeast mix, start the food processor and pour in the liquid ingredients while it's running. I stop the processor, open it up and scrape down the sides because some of the water will fling onto the sides and cake things up a bit. I then close it back up and run for about a minute, jiggling it now and then to keep things mixing because as it gets hydrated, the mixture tends to form a mass toward the outside of the bowl. When I jiggle it, those masses fall in and mix more.
The final product in the processor looks like wet corn meal. I dump that out into a bowl and form it into a compact ball, then put that into a plastic container, snap on the airtight top and put it on the counter for 24 hours. Prep time is about 5 minutes.
I've found that to make the kind of ultra-fine layering I like in my cracker-style crust, I need to roll the dough and fold it repeatedly. Here's what I do:
1) Flour the rolling surface a little with bread flour. Turn out the dough from the plastic container, dust it with flour and roll out to about a 12-inch circle.
2) Using my pump-spray olive oil mister, I lightly spray the top of the dough disc, fold it in half, spray again, fold that in half, then roll out again to about a 12-inch disc.
3) Do the mist-and-double-fold again. Throughout this process I dust the dough with a little flour as needed. I usually let the dough rest for a few minutes if it starts to resist rolling out. Last night, since I was doing two batches of dough, I started one, set it aside to rest, started the second, let it rest, went back to the first and finished it, then finished the second while the first crusts were parbaking.
4) Roll out to the desired size & shape. This recipe makes a 16-inch pizza or two 12-inch pizzas, depending on how you roll it out (circle or oblong). Thickness should be very thin -- about 3/32".
5) Dock with roller -- I dock the living heck out of mine to be sure I don't get a blowup like a balloon -- place on cutter pan and trim with rolling pin.
6) Parbake at 500F for 5 minutes (I do this on my baking stone on the lowest rack), remove from pan and place on cooling rack. Turn oven down to 450F.
7) When cool, add sauce & toppings. Bake at 450 on baking stone for about 7 minutes. Remove from oven, cool on rack for a few minutes, then cut & serve.
The 5-minute parbake seemed perfect. I did a very thorough docking and the crust behaved perfectly -- no ultra-large bubbles but very nice, uniform puffing. There was very light browning on the bottom and after the final bake the crust was not overly dark.
Last night's pizza was heavenly. The crust was ultra-flaky and crispy, and despite having a fair amount of toppings on mine, it stood out when you grabbed it by the edge and didn't flop. The super-thin layers made it really tender, all the way to the edge.
My friends hadn't had that style of pizza before, and the one who tends to be a light eater devoured his 12-inch pizza, which totally astounded me. When he and his wife come over for dinner, we typically only figure them as one person from a portioning standpoint!
Oh yeah -- and the trimmings from the crusts? While the parbaked skins were cooling, I cut the crust trimmings into squares, plopped them on a baking sheet, dusted them with a little salt and baked them into crackers to go with the salad! My wife loves them.