Specialty Pizzas: Thin Crust and Grilled Pizzas
When it comes to making your own pizzas, it’s all good! Any time you can get your hands in flour, tomato sauce, toppings, and cheese, it’s a win all around.
However, what if you could try a something a little different on Pizza Night? What if you created something that, while clearly pizza, was also something—more?
We went to our friends at Cook’s Country and they got creative and came up with: An ultra-thin crust, St. Louis style pizza, too good to miss, and a grilled pizza—yes, grilled—that is as quick as it is good. Which will you make first? Me, I’m going for the thin crust—my weakness.
Why this recipe works
With its wafer-thin crust, thick, sweet tomato sauce, and gooey Provel cheese, St. Louis–style pizza is unmistakable. Adding cornstarch to the dough absorbed moisture and allowed the crust to crisp in a conventional oven. Then, we doctored a simple pizza sauce by adding sugar, tomato sauce, dried oregano, and fresh basil. The fresh herb wasn’t typical, but it gave the pizza a flavorful lift. Smoky, melty Provel cheese was difficult to find outside the St. Louis area—if you can find it, great! Use 10 ounces in the recipe. But if not, try our respectable substitute using American cheese, Monterey Jack, and liquid smoke. Makes two 12‑inch pizzas.
Sauce and cheeses
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 8 ounces white American cheese, shredded (2 cups)
- 2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
- 3 drops liquid smoke
- 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Sauce and cheese
Whisk tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil, sugar, and oregano together in small bowl; set aside. Toss cheeses with liquid smoke in medium bowl; set aside.
Combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Combine water and olive oil in liquid measuring cup. Stir water mixture into flour mixture until dough starts to come together. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead 3 or 4 times, until cohesive.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place baking stone (or inverted baking sheet) on rack, and heat oven to 475 F degrees.
Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, press into small circle and transfer to parchment paper dusted lightly with flour. Using rolling pin, roll and stretch dough to form 12‑inch circle, rotating parchment as needed. Lift parchment and pizza off work surface onto inverted baking sheet.
Top each piece of dough with half of sauce and half of cheese. Carefully pull parchment paper and pizza off baking sheet onto hot baking stone. Bake until underside is golden brown and cheese is completely melted, 9 to 12 minutes.
Remove pizza and parchment from oven. Transfer pizza to wire rack and let cool briefly. Assemble and bake second pizza. Cut into 2-inch squares. Serve.
To make ahead: The dough can be made in advance. At end of step 2, tightly wrap ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Easy as (pizza) pie
St. Louis–Style Pizza has a paper-thin crust. Here’s how we transfer the dough from counter top to oven without tearing it.
- Roll out the dough on parchment paper, so it doesn’t stick and you can move it easily.
- Place the parchment and dough on an inverted baking sheet and then top it with sauce and cheese.
- To get the pizza into the oven, slide both parchment and pizza onto the hot baking stone.
Jazz up your pizza with these toppings. Each recipe tops one pizza—and can be doubled to top a full recipe of two pizzas.
Prepare St. Louis–Style Pizza sauce and dough. Arrange 3½ ounces thinly sliced pepperoni on paper towel–lined plate. Cover with 2 more paper towels and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Let cool. Proceed with recipe, arranging pepperoni on pizza before sprinkling with cheese.
Peppers, mushrooms, and onions
Prepare St. Louis–Style Pizza sauce and dough. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook 1 thinly sliced onion; 1 stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced red pepper; and 8 ounces thinly sliced white button mushrooms until browned, about 10 minutes. Proceed with recipe, distributing vegetables over pizza before sprinkling with cheese.
Don’t move the dough during the first minute of grilling or it will tear. The preheated oven keeps the first pizzas warm while you grill the remaining rounds. If you like pepperoni, arrange 2 ounces of pepperoni slices over each pizza after you’ve topped it with sauce. Makes four 9-inch pizzas
- 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing dough
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 2¾ cups (13¾ ounces) all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 10 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (2½ cups)
For the sauce: Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Set aside.
For the dough: Whisk water, oil, sugar, and yeast together in 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Pulse flour, Parmesan, and salt in food processor until combined, about 3 pulses. With processor running, slowly pour in water mixture and process until dough pulls away from sides and forms shaggy ball, about 1 minute. (If dough seems too sticky, add up to 2 tablespoons extra flour.) Turn dough onto floured counter and knead 3 or 4 times until cohesive.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with flour. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Press 1 piece into small circle. Using rolling pin, roll and stretch dough to form 9-inch circle. Transfer to prepared sheet and dust with flour. Repeat with remaining dough, stacking each round on floured parchment.
Grilled pizza gets its charred, smoky, wonderful crust from a very hot fire. Unfortunately, if you’re making two pizzas at once, the timing can be tricky: It’s tough to flip and top them before they burn. Our two-level heat method takes the stress out of the equation.
If using a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes. See steps 1 to 3 below.
If using a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn other burner(s) to medium-low.
- Clean and oil cooking grate. Brush tops of 2 dough rounds lightly with oil. Peel rounds off parchment and place, oiled side down, on cooler side of grill. Grill, covered, until undersides are spotty brown and tops are covered with bubbles, poking large bubbles with tongs, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Brush each round lightly with extra oil and flip.
- Top each round with one-quarter of sauce and one-quarter of mozzarella. Grill, covered, until undersides are spotty brown and cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Slide pizzas to hotter part of grill to crisp, about 1 minute.
Place pizzas on wire rack set in second rimmed baking sheet and transfer to oven. Repeat with remaining rounds. Serve.
Most yeast doughs rest for long periods so they can rise and the yeast can ferment and develop deep flavor. We weren’t willing to wait.
To jump-start the yeast for our grilled pizza, we dissolved it in warm water along with sugar. To boost the flavor, we added Parmesan cheese to the dough. With our Quick Grilled Pizza, looks are deceiving: The dough on the left is the one that’s ready for shaping and grilling.
Oh how we love pizza! Can’t get enough? Check out these pizza-related blogs on CHEFS Mix for more:
- Pizza Stones: An Ideal Way to Bake a Pizza
- Pizza for Everybody!
- Saucy Tips for Homemade Pizza
- Show Pizza Some Amore
- Specialty Pizzas: Thin Crust and Grilled Pizzas
Your turn: What is your favorite style of pizza? And what toppings do you prefer?