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Hey, Slice: Can I Make Your Pizza Dough Without a Food Processor or Stand Mixer?

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You don't need this machine, but it makes things a whole heckuva lot easier. [Photographs: Adam Kuban]

On Monday night I got into a Twitter conversation with @ellenronnie (henceforth "Ellen"), who had tweet-asked her friend @reneemca to send her the link to Kenji's New York–Style Pizza Recipe.

But Ellen tweeted that she didn't have a food processor. Or a stand mixer. And, would the recipe still work without them? The short answer is yes. For the long answer (and a photo of a New York–style pizza I made completely by hand), keep reading.

Knowing that Ellen would have to do this all by hand, I directed her to the Cook's Illustrated Thin-Crust Pizza recipe that I put through the paces last week. (Sorry, Kenji!)


See also: Pizza Protips: Kneading, Man vs. Machine »

I've now pizza-ed many times from both recipes, and in my experience, the Cook's dough, which is drier, is easier to work with. It's still plenty wet — you need to keep your hands and work surface lightly olive-oiled or floured to keep it from sticking everywhere — but it's a bit easier to handle than the wetter Pizza Lab dough.

When I tweeted back to Ellen that she should try the Cook's dough, I hadn't yet tried it by hand myself. I felt uncomfortable with that, so I went into the kitchen to prep a batch. "Yup," I tweeted back to her, "works fine by hand."

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But the real test would come three nights later, on Pizza Night. And, sure enough, the dough worked beautifully. That's pizza No. 2 from last night (watch for pizza No. 1 in next week's My Pie Monday).

"This is your best pizza yet," Girl Slice said about the first pie out of the oven, a pepperoni and oyster mushroom combo. Though, harsh critic that one, she informed me that the slice of my plain pie, above, exhibited significant tip sag. Yes, I had topped too heavily with sauce and cheese.

Long story short, if you don't have a food processor or stand mixer, you can still make killer New York–style pizza in your home oven. Just follow this recipe »

Short Story Longer: The Differences Between the Recipes

Like I said, I've now worked with both the Cook's "thin-crust" and Kenji NYC-style recipes, and they're very similar. And both are phenomenal. I honestly can say that lately I've been turning to one or the other in equal proportion. I think that Burger365 summed any differences pretty well, though, in this comment:

I made a batch of the dough last week and fired the pies Sunday night with great results. The dough is really easy to work with, cooked up beautifully, texture was right on, and it tasted great. As far as comparisons with Kenji's similar dough recipe, they both produce excellent pies and I wouldn't say one is better than the other in any major way, they just produce slightly different results. We found the CI recipe to be slightly tougher and less pillowy than Kenji's. Kenji's dough was a little bit harder to work with due to that it's a bit wetter, but both are excellent starting points for entering the world of pizza making. Really impressed.

As far as tougher goes, I would say that if you tried it on its own, the CI dough would not seem tough. Straight out of the oven, it's crisp-chewy. It's only when you compare it to a pizza made with the Kenji dough that you'll notice much of a difference, and the latter is slightly, yes, more "pillowy."

Both recipes include a sauce component. I do have to say that here, my personal preferences do have me leaning toward Kenji's sauce. The Cook's sauce is good, but it's an uncooked sauce. I prefer the robustness of a classic New York style sauce, and, OMG, OMFG, I cannot say how much I LOVE this sauce.

And, yes, it has sugar in it. Deal with it, purists!

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