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My New Go-To Pizza Crust

Monday, September 17th, 2012

A Mini-Pizza with Spiced Lamb

I have made a variety of pizza crusts over the years. They are generally quite tasty. But they’re generally also a lot of work. I’m just not geared toward stretching things gently.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I tried a recipe published in the 1960s, in TV Guide of all places. The recipe was from entertainer Danny Thomas, and it walked me through making Laham Ahjeen, Lebanese lamb patties. Thomas was pictured in full chef’s regalia making this dish “from his homeland—Toledo, Ohio.”

The patties were simple, a mixture of lamb and spices on a basic flatbread. Once I discovered the flatbread, a metaphorical light bulb went off above my head. I realized I could use it as a pizza crust! So last week I made tiny Margherita pizzas using the same dough recipe. They were WONDERFUL … and I had no trouble shaping them!

Here is the flatbread recipe, slightly adapted from Thomas’s original. So far I have made 12 or 18 patties with it. I imagine one could also make one large pizza, but I love the tiny version so much (I really get a kick out of miniature food) that I’m not tempted to do that right now.

Since we still have tomatoes and basil galore, I’m planning to make another batch of mini-Margheritas soon. I suggest my readers do the same. Here’s my Margherita recipe to use as a guide.

Luckily for me, the dough balls do NOT have to be perfect rounds!

Inspired by Danny Thomas Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons butter, plus a bit more later if necessary
1 envelope yeast
approximately 1/2 cup lukewarm water (a little less is okay)
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

Begin about 4 hours before you want to bake your pizza/patties.

In a small saucepan melt the shortening and the 2 tablespoons butter. Set aside to cool slightly.

Combine the yeast with the lukewarm water and let it proof briefly.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Stir in the shortening. Add the yeast to the flour mixture.

Mix and knead the dough until it is firm enough to roll. If the dough refuses to hold together, add a small amount of melted butter. Place the dough in a greased mixing bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and place it in a warm part of the kitchen to rise until it has doubled in bulk (2 to 3 hours).

When the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cut the dough into 12 pieces (or 18), and place the pieces on a cookie sheet covered with a damp cloth. Allow them to stand, covered with a damp cloth, for about 1/2 hour. Use the palm of your hand and your fingers to shape the balls into little flat rounds. They will be between 3 and 4 inches in diameter, depending on how many you are making.

Place the rounds on cookie sheets covered with silicone or parchment. Cover the rounds with the toppings of your choice—spiced meat or pizza ingredients—and bake until done, between 10 and 20 minutes. (How long the baking takes will in part depend on your toppings.)

Serves 12 to 18 as an appetizer, 4 to 6 as a main course.