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May 10, 2011. I should have tried this before. And told you about it. Great homemade pizza that’s even easier than my Pizza 101 and Pizza 102. No rolling pins. No tossing and spinning dough.

I just didn’t think it would turn out so well. I was wrong. Completely. I should have been more trusting. After all, the technique is Jim Lahey’s. His basic bread recipe is the one I love. No kneading. Too easy and good to be true. But it’s true.

So here’s how he makes a pizza crust. You spend a minute – just one – stirring together flour, water, yeast, salt and sugar. Your dough rises for two hours. You shape it into a ball. It rises for thirty minutes. Barehanded, you take two minutes to spread it out on a baking sheet. Put on toppings. Put it in the oven. You should have his book, My Bread. Hundreds of bread and pizza recipes. All great. All easy. All foolproof.

Stir together
Bread flour: 1-7/8 cup (250g)
Instant yeast: 1-1/4 teaspoons (5g)
Salt: 3/8 teaspoon (2.5g)
sugar: 3/8 teaspoon (3g)

Then stir in room temperature water: 2/3 cup (150g). Until the dough is smooth, no lumps. Use a wooden spoon or your hands. 30 – 60 seconds.

Cover the bowl. Come back in two hours. The dough will have expanded to two or three times its original size. Scrape it out of the bowl with a rubber spatula or bowl scraper. Onto a floured surface. Shape it into a ball. Cover it with a moist kitchen towel. Come back thirty minutes later.

Stretch and Press
Oil a standard rimmed baking sheet. Stretch the dough ball to the length of the baking sheet, then press out the dough until it completely covers the baking sheet. Pull the dough for the first few seconds. Then press and push the dough to spread it out. If the dough tears, just pinch it back together and press it down.

Mr. Lahey recommends doubling this recipe to make enough dough for two 18″ x 13″ pizzas. Cut the dough in half and form two balls after the two-hour rise time. If you want to bake one at a time, cover and refrigerate half the dough for up to three days. Press Play to see how it looks:

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That’s it. Now it’s ready for toppings and a little time in the oven. Like the ridiculously simple and delicious Onion Pizza. Looks too beautiful to eat. Tastes even Better than it looks.

Just so you know
Pizza 103 gets you a thin, crisp pizza crust. It doesn’t produce a super-thin crust like Pizza 101. Or a super-super-thin crust like Pizza 102.

Pizza 103 is all about crisp. Unlike 101 and 102, which give you crisp crusts with puffy edges that combine crisp with soft and chewy.

Pizza Crust 103 isn’t Better. Or worse. It’s just different. And much, much easier. If you’ve been waiting for the easy way out, here it is. It can’t go wrong. I think you’ll love it. Make one now, just to get in the groove. This is going to be a great platform for summer vegetables.

Cost-Benefit Analysis
40 cents per 13” x 18″ pizza crust: flour, 35 cents; salt, 1 cent; yeast, 2 cents; sugar, 2 cents. A crisp, delicious completely fresh pizza crust with zero junk.

Cost Comparison
Pillsbury’s 13.8-ounce package of frozen dough costs $2.50. Your own 24 ounces: 40 cents. Per ounce, the Dough Boy’s stuff costs 10 times more than your homemade. But money’s not everything: their long list of ingredients includes dextrose, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (transfat), Glucono Delta-Lactone and Mono- and Diglycerides. Better is Cheaper. Cheaper is Better. I rest my dough.

It’s Always Something
If you shop and read the ingredients carefully, buying healthy, pre-made frozen or refrigerated dough for $1 -$2.50 per crust can still be a good deal because you can top it with better, cheaper, more healthy and delicious stuff than you can have delivered. Here in New York, I’ve used an expensive but high quality source for $2 per 8-ounce dough ball. Stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods sell refrigerated pizza dough; so do some local pizza restaurants. You won’t have to make the dough, but you still have to roll it out and rest it.

Let’s Do The Math
The calorie count for each 18″ x 13″ homemade pizza crust is about 950. If you eat half – and that’s a lot – your share is 475. That a 40-minute jog. Or a brisk 1-hour walk.

What about the toppings? Well, tomato, basil, onion and a few drops of olive oil bring your very large half-pizza up to about 500 calories. A little fresh mozzarella? Add 35 calories. And ten minutes to your walk.

Every Thing Is Everything
The American Institute for Cancer Research’s Diet and Cancer Report advises planning meals around non-starchy vegetables and fruits. It recommends “5 servings or more of vegetables and fruit daily because, like physical activity, they pack a double whammy against cancer. Probable evidence indicates they help reduce cancer risk on their own, and as low-energy-dense foods, they help maintain a healthy weight, which the evidence shows has a big influence on cancer risk”.

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