Basic pizza dough
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons or 1 package of instant yeast
- 4 cups bread flour plus more for working the dough
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra to lightly coat a bowl)
- Non-stick spray
- Semolina flour (just enough to sprinkle a pizza pan)
- Tin foil
Add dry yeast to warm water and whisk together briefly. Allow the yeast enough time to bubble up and become active, this should take a few minutes. If the yeast is inactive, you may need to replace the yeast and try again.
In another bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture. Add the olive oil. Use a fork to pull the dry into the wet then mix. When the dough starts to come together, take it out of the bowl and continue mixing with your hands, and kneading it for a few minutes on a lightly floured board. Use the heel of your hand to push the dough down and forward. Give it a few turns. You're done when the dough feels slightly tacky and sticky.
Place the dough into a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil (you can also use non stick spray for this), and cover the dough with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size. This may take up to 2 hours.
Once the dough has risen properly, use a knife to divide it. Form into balls for individual pizzas, and place on a plate. Cover with a damp cloth. Let the balls of dough rest until you poke them and see an indentation.
Prepare your dough for use:
If using a pizza pan:
Sprinkle a pizza pan with a little semolina for good separation and a nutty crunch. Place a ball of dough in the center of the pan and spread it out, using a rolling pin or your hands. Spin it. Pull the dough to the edges of the pan to thin out the center. Make sure the thickness is even. Top your pizza with your toppings of choice.
If using a pizza stone:
If you choose to use a pizza stone, then lightly sprinkle a counter with flour, place the ball of dough on the floured counter and roll out the dough with a rolling pin, stretching it out as you go. Lift your rolled out dough onto a large piece of foil and then top your pizza with your toppings of choice. When ready to make your pizza, slide the tin foil containing your pizza onto a pizza peel, the slide onto your pre-heated pizza stone (following the appropriate directions)
You can use regular All Purpose flour, but bread flour will give you a chewier and crispier crust and that is what I used for this recipe.
When you’re rolling your dough, if you’re having trouble stretching it out to form a larger pizza crust, let it rest a couple of times. This will allow the dough to relax and then you can stretch it out even more.
Simple tomato sauce
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
In a small frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and fragrant. Do not allow the garlic or scorch or brown. Lower the heat if you need to.
After the garlic has cooked, add the crushed tomatoes, dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme, and freshly ground pepper. Make sure to stir the mixture after adding each ingredient.
Turn the heat to low and allow the mixture to simmer. You should see some small bubbles around the edge of the pan. Be sure to stir frequently so that the sauce does not begin to stick at the bottom of the pan. Simmer for about 15-20 until the sauce has thickened and lost its acidity. It should not taste tangy. Season to taste with salt. Take off the heat and allow to cool. Use right away, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.
Canned tomatoes vary in salt content, so start by seasoning the sauce with just a pinch of salt, and then gradually add more to taste.
Margherita pizza using a pizza stone
- 1 rolled out pizza dough (see directions for pizza dough)
- 1/2 cup Simple Tomato Sauce (see directions for Simple Tomato Sauce)
- 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 3 ounces mozzarella di bufala, sliced and then torn into bite-sized pieces
- 6 large fresh basil leaves, torn into ¾ inch pieces
- Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Place your pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of your oven, and preheat the oven to 450ºF / 230ºC. Allow the pizza stone to heat for 45-60 minutes.
When ready to bake your pizza, lift your rolled out dough onto a large piece of foil. Brush the dough with a light coating of olive oil. Spread the dough evenly with the Simple Tomato Sauce, leaving a ½ inch border uncovered. Arrange the sliced tomatoes over the dough, leaving a ½ inch border uncovered. Top with the torn mozzarella. Carefully slide the pizza topped tin foil onto a pizza peel, and from the pizza peel onto your pre-heated pizza stone.
Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, 9-12 minutes.
Using the pizza peel, remove the pizza from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board. Let the pizza stand for 3 minutes, then scatter the torn basil leaves evenly over the pizza, drizzle with the extra-virgin olive oil. Slice and serve