1 1/2 cups warm water
1 package (2 1/4 t) active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups bread flour (all-purpose flour is an acceptable substitute, but you will notice a taste difference)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
- Place the warm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let it sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved. After 5 minutes stir if the yeast hasn't dissolved completely. The yeast should begin to foam, which indicates that it is still active and alive.
- If you have a stand mixer, use the mixing paddle attachment to mix in the flour, salt, sugar, and olive oil on low speed for a minute. Then replace the mixing paddle with the dough hook attachment. Knead the pizza dough on low to medium speed using the dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If you don't have a stand mixer, mix the ingredients together and knead them by hand. If the dough seems a little too wet, sprinkle it with a little more flour.
- Spread a thin layer of olive oil over the inside of a large bowl. Place the pizza dough in the bowl and turn it around so that it gets coated with the oil. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place (75-85°F) until it doubles in size, at least 1 to 1 1/2 hours. You can let it sit for several hours if you want. The longer rise will improve the flavor of the pizza crust. If you don't have a warm spot in the house you can heat the oven to 150 degrees, and then turn off the oven. Let the oven cool till it is just a little warm, then place the bowl of dough in this warmed oven to rise.
- Punch the dough down. Divide into two roughly equal portions, and then divide again (optional) to end up with 4 individual-size pizzas.
- If you're not using the dough right away, or you have some left over, you can freeze it. Wrap each portion in a sandwich bag and store in freezer. When you're ready to use the dough, take it out and let it thaw on the counter for an hour or two before prearing.
Preparing the Pizzas
- Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
- Sprinkle a little flour on a cutting board and roll out the dough with a rolling pin. Feel free to experiment with your own techniques. My preferred technique is one I learned working in a restaurant in college. First, I flatten the dough into a rough circle with my fingers and place it on the cutting board. I press hard with the rolling pin in the center, and then roll outwards from the center forward and backward to stretch the dough into an oval. I then flip the dough over and rotate it 90 degrees, so the longer ends of the oval are left and right. I repeat this technique a few times until the dough is my desired size. After a while if it seems like the dough isn't stretching any more, sometimes tossing it in the air (really, it's fun!) seems to loosen it up enough that a few more turns with the rolling pin will finish the job.
- Prepare your desired toppings. We like marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, green peppers, onions, muchrooms, tomatoes and pepperoni. Usually we'll prepare a bowl of each and let each person pick their desired toppings.
- Sprinkle some corn meal on the pizza stone and place prepared pizza on it. (You may want to play around with this, sometimes we take the pizza stone out and prepare the pizza on top of it, since the raw dough tends to stick to the cutting board and is hard to transfer).
- Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until crust seems done (usually I look for the edges to brown, and the center to be cooked fully).
- Enjoy with some fresh grated parmesian cheese and beverage of choice.
Source: Simply Recipes