I'm a pizza nerd and make a pretty good pie.
Proper thin-crust requires high, intense heat, much more than a home oven can provide. So we're up against it right off the bat; this is why a pizza stone is essential, it is the only way to cook the crust in the same manner as a professional pizza oven, searing the crust for crispness while drawing moisture out. Do not use sheet pans or those round perforated "pizza pans", they are unnecessary. Use a pizza peel and slide it directly onto (and off of) the stone. Crank your oven as high as it will go and warm it up for as long as you can. I usually do 45min to an hour. Ovens vary greatly, and you may find that you need to finish the top under the broiler if your oven can't get into the 450-500 deg range. Get a cheap oven thermometer and learn your oven. The broiler can also provide a nice char to the top of the crust, which is visually appealing and helps if you like your cheese more browned like I do.
Here's the bottom line: The key to achieving *your* pefect crust is understanding the wetness of your dough to the intensity of your heat. Simply put, the higher your heat, the wetter your dough. If the dough's not wet enough for your (high) heat it will dry out. Conversely if your dough's too wet for your (lower) heat you risk sogginess in the middle as the pie takes forever to cook and doesn't crisp up right. This is why it's so important to know your oven and use a pizza stone...
As for flour, I prefer 50% AP and 50% Bread. I find this gives a smooth dough with the best flavor and balance of chewy to crisp. For wheat dough I go no higher than half wheat to half AP or Bread. Sometimes just under half, like 60-40%. It's not as healthy as all wheat would be, but it's a way better eating experience! As for other ingredients I use the usual ADY and proof it in warm water with some sugar, then add it to the flour and salt. Olive oil is optional but nice, I've made equally good crusts with or without. I used to use a food processor to combine the dough (don't own a stand mixer), but I've converted to doing it all by hand. Once you get it down it's so much easier and more fun, and all you have to clean up is a bowl and a wooden spoon!
Here's the basic process as I do it, for one good sized pie. While I own a scale, I don't use it. I generalize the measurements and go by feel now, but it's good to measure and be precise when first learning what affects what, and what you're looking for. Of course in a professional setting, precise measurements are necessary for consistency and other reasons...
- Proof half a packet of yeast with a half teaspoon or so of sugar and 1/4 cup warm (but not hot) water, about 15mins.
- Mix two cups of flour with a teaspoon of salt in a large bowl.
- Add proofed yeast to flour, along with about half a cup of room-temp water. Have both extra water and flour on hand to make adjustments.
- Stir the contents with a wooden spoon. Add a tablespoon of olive oil (optional).
- When the stirring gets too tough, finish the job with your hands. As the dough combines it'll smooth out and not stick to your hands so much. Add small amounts of water if it's too dry and the flour isn't all getting combined, or add flour if the dough is too wet and sticky and isn't combining well.
- Eventually it'll come together into a ball. Keep working it until it is smooth and all the flour has been combined. You'll have a lovely ball of dough in your hands.
Throw the doughball onto your clean counter and knead it for about five minutes or so. It shouldn't be sticking to the counter at this point, if it is it may be too wet. If you're going for a very wet dough, oil the counter lightly with olive oil but don't flour (the wet dough will just absorb the flour). Knead until it is soft and smooth and luxurious, you'll know it when it's ready. Form into a tight ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm, dry place for at least an hour. Once it has doubled, take it out and punch it down gently. Reform it into a ball and if eating that day, sprinkle with flour on a lightly floured counter and let it rise again under a tea towel, about a half hour to an hour. When ready, gently work the dough out to the sides from the middle, rotating as you go, until you get a nice, thin crust. It shouldn't fight you too much with spring back, if it does this could be from too much kneading with high gluten flour. There is such thing as too much gluten development, it produces a dough that is hard to shape and very chewy. Once pie is shaped, transfer to a well floured and cornmealed peel. Add toppings and when ready, slide quickly onto the pizza stone. Don't have the oven door open any longer than necessary, you need all the heat you can get! The pie should take about ten minutes, finish under broiler for extra char. Experiment with where you place your stone; I used to put it on the bottom, but now am using it in the middle. If not eating that day, lightly oil the doughball and put in a ziplock freezer bag, and store in your fridge for up to three days; just let it come to room temperature for about an hour or so on the counter before you make it...