Years ago, I lived around the corner from a restaurant called Lento’s in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. One taste of their pizza, and it’s no surprise I became a regular fixture. In the world of gas oven vs. brick oven vs. wood burning “who makes the best pizza”, Lento’s was truly unique and had no competition.
The crust was crisp, almost cracker-like, defying gravity, no matter what type of topping it needed to support. For years, I scratched my head in disbelief wondering how they did it—the recipe was a family secret. More than 10 years after my first bite, I discovered the answer in my very own kitchen. Sitting there, rather innocently on the counter, was my jar of baking powder. After creating a recipe for an easy butter crust using baking powder, it occurred to me that not only does this important ingredient add a bit of rise, it gives a little elasticity to the dough. Just enough in fact, to make it forgivingly easy to roll out without worry of tears or holes.
Now we can enjoy pizza during busy weekdays and satisfy last-minute cravings without an overnight rise. A delicious welcome for the back to school craziness that descends upon us this time of year.
makes two 16-inch pizza pies
For the dough:
2 cups flour, plus more for kneading
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 warm water
For the pizza:
1 cup marinara sauce
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- To make the dough, add the flour, baking powder, and salt to a deep bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the olive oil and water, and stir with a fork until the mixture forms a rough dough.
- Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 1 to 2 minutes until smooth. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Wrap each piece in plastic or place in separate sealed zip top bags, and let rest for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425º. Lightly coat two 16-inch round pizza pans with cooking spray or brush with olive oil. On a lightly floured surface, with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out each piece of dough into a 16-inch circle. Place each circle onto a prepared pizza pan.
- Spread equal amounts of sauce over each pizza crust. Sprinkle evenly with the parmesan, then top with the mozzarella cheese. Bake until crust is crisp and cheese is melted and lightly golden, about 15 to 18 minutes.