As stated by Kensey, the pizza crust is the bread part of the pizza - the thick, breadstick-like section around the edge of the pizza (except for a thin-crust pizza), and the thin part underneath the entire pizza. In a stuffed pizza, this also includes the top layer of dough.

When making homemade pizza, there are two options for the crust to use.

The first is to buy a refridgerated rolled up pizza crust. You can find them in just about any market/supermarket. Now, these crusts work acceptably in a pinch, but are less that optimal. In fact, I wouldn't recommend using one unless you are in a time crunch, and then, only for making a non-traditional pizza that you can't order from a pizzeria - it's usually easier and much better to order out than make a "normal" pizza with this kind of crust.

The other is to make your own. This is not all that hard, and the results are quite satisfactory with the right recipe. And when I say satisfactory, I mean something that can match a decent pizzeria pizza crust.

Standard Pizza Crust:

3 1/4 C. Bread Flour
1 Package Yeast (1/4 oz)
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 C lukewarm water

Note: You can replace 2 cup of the flour with whole wheat flour to create a whole wheat crust. You can also substitute regular all-purpose flour, though I suspect the results would not be as good.

Put the lukewarm water in a cup/bowl, and dissolve the sugar in it. Then add the yeast, mix, and wait 5 minutes. If there's a layer of foam on top, then the yeast is ready to go. Remember to NEVER add salt right on top of the yeast when mixing the ingredients together - it will kill the yeast.

With a bread machine: set the machine on the dough setting, and add 3 cups of flour and the rest of the ingredients. Watch the dough - it should form into a ball, and not be sticky on the outside - add flour SLOWLY if the dough is sticky. When it's just right, let it run through the entire cycle - including the time for the dough to rise.

With a mixer with a bread hook: similar to the bread machine instructions, except when the dough forms a good coherent ball that's not sticky, knead for another 5 minutes, then put it in a bowl, coat slightly with oil, cover, and let rise for an hour to an hour and a half.

By hand:

Combine 3 cups of the flour with the salt in a large mixing bowl, and mix. Make a well in the center of the bowl, and add the yeast and the oil. Stir the two together, starting in the center, and working out to the edges.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough, adding a flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Continue to knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic. This should be about 10 minutes. Don't knead too much, or the crust will be too tough. Then shape the dough into a ball, coat lightly with oil, cover, and let rise for an hour to an hour and a half.

After the dough has finished rising, punch it down, coat it again, and refrigerate, covered, for 35 minutes.

After the 35 minutes is finished, remove the dough from the bowl, and place on a flat, floured surface. Now, without folding over or kneading the dough, flatten into the desired shape (usually a nice circle). Folding it over at this point will make it stetchy and chewy, and make it tougher for the dough to keep it's shape. Use either your hands or a rolling pin.

Congratulations, you now have a good quality pizza crust ready to use.

The dough can be refrigerated for up to 36 hours and still be used, though it's recommended to let it come to room temperature before using.

Corn Meal Variation:

This recipe will give you a crust that is more like the traditional Chicago-style pizza - Pizzeria Uno uses this style.

1 Tsp Sugar
1 C Lukewarm Water
1 Package Yeast
2 1/4 C All Purpose or Semolina flour
1 C Yellow Cornmeal or polenta
1 Tsp Salt
1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Proceed as with the regular crust, though be careful when shaping this crust, as it may tear or break more easily. If you have issues with this crust being too soggy when used in a pizza, try parbaking it first.

Some content and recipe from "Pizza" by James McNair.

See: Cookery : Recipes, categorised : Main Dishes : Pizza