...and what I'd like to change.
I'm new to this forum and I'm learning a lot. I usually make an American style(from what I've read), 16" pizza about once a week for DH and myself(this allows leftovers for breakfast the next morning). The crust is fairly thick. I use 8oz of whatever mozzarella is on sale, I use a sauce made from 1 can tomato paste, 2 cans water, 1 tbs dried oregano and basil(1/2&1/2), 2 tbs grated Parmesan, 1 tbs olive oil, a little salt and a little sugar(makes four pies). Toppings in order of preference; 1.sausage, onion, and mushroom, 2.pepperoni, black olive, 3.ham and pineapple.
My dough is what is known here as emergency dough: I use 3 cups North Dakota Mill unbleached bread or AP flour, 1 1/4 cup water, 2 tsp ADY(bulk from co-op), 1/2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp sea salt(bulk from co-op), 1 tbs olive oil(whatever is on sale). I proof yeast in 1/2 of the water w/the sugar, dump everything but 1/2 cup flour into a large tupperware bowl(the big yellow), beat with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes, then start hand kneading in the bowl, adding the rest of the flour as I go. When the dough is smooth(about 5 min), I drizzle a tiny bit of oil on it, roll it around to coat, put the lid on and set it aside for 2-4 hours.
I have a 16" textured steel pan that I spread a little oil on, I punch down my dough, coat my hands with a little oil and pat out the dough on the pan. I spread on 1/2 cup of sauce, shredded cheese, toppings, then into a preheated 450 degree(electric)oven on the lowest rack for approx. 20 min.
Now, the pizzas are ok, dough is cooked through, but not exactly crisp on the bottom. This is one of the things I'd like to change. If I increase the temp, the bottom browns more, but so does the cheese...too much. I also have a 16" heavy aluminum pan that is perforated, that lets the bottom crisp up more, but I can't pat out my dough onto the pan with oil or it will be embedded in the holes. With this pan, I have to use flour to shape my dough and it takes much longer as the dough needs to rest between stretches, which I can deal with, but I'm still having trouble with the cheese browning too much at 450 degrees. I've checked the oven against 2 different thermometers and it is accurate. So, how do I get a browned crust without over cooking the cheese? I've tried making a thinner crust, but it doesn't make much difference, and then there's less pizza to be had, LOL. Can I cover the top with a sheet of foil for part of the time? Use more cheese? Lower temp more? Is emergency dough always going to be less crisp? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. And sorry this is so long!