To proof the yeast
1 cup warm water (at 115F)
half packet or 1 teaspoon rapid rise yeast
1 tablespoon honey
Mix the yeast and honey into the water in a 2 cup measure or small bowl. Set aside to rise. Place a baking steel (highly recommended) or a pizza stone onto the center rack of your oven, then preheat to 515F.
For the dough
2 - 1/2 cups all purpose flour (you may also replace 1/2 cup all-purpose with 1/2 cup bread flour)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the toppings
1-1/2 cups pizza sauce (a thin marinara will do)
8 ounces sliced, part skim mozzarella (you can use the wide slicing notches on a box grater)
6-9 large, fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon, dry oregano (Use chopped, fresh oregano if available)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Thin slices of a sweet heirloom tomato
- Place 1 cup of the flour into a bowl of a stand mixer (or food processor) and add the salt and sugar. Mix the dry ingredients for a minutes.
- Pour the proofed yeast (when its foam looks to be about 1-1/2 inches high) into the flour and mix on a low speed, scraping down the bowl as needed. After a slurry is formed, add the olive oil.
- Continue adding the flour, little by little until you have a dough forming. If the dough seems too wet, add a couple of tablespoons of flour at a time, until you form a rough shaped, but moist dough ball. You do NOT want a stiff dough. This is not the type of dough that can be tossed like a commercial pizzaiolo does. It is much more delicate.
- Turn the dough out onto a well floured work surface and knead for 2-4 minutes. Keep your hands well floured. The dough should feel slightly sticky at first, but not overly so. Knead until you get a smooth, soft ball of dough.
- You should now oil a medium size bowl with extra virgin olive oil and place your dough into it. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature to rise for 1 hour.
- After the dough has risen, get a wooden pizza peel (an affordable tool for making at home pizzas) and place a sheet of parchment paper on top.
- Press down your risen dough gently to flatten it.
- Next, turn out your dough onto the floured work surface and toss some more flour on the top side. Working with the heel of your hands and palms, flatten and shape the dough into a rough circular shape... an irregular shape gives a rustic look to your pizza. Try to flatten the center of the dough while keeping a thicker crust around the perimeter.
- Toss a bit more flour on top, then fold over the right side, and then the left by thirds, creating a sort three paged dough "book". Lifting up each end carefully, transfer your dough onto the pizza peel.
- Unfold your dough and carefully and gently shape into the final shape of your pizza.
- You can now add the toppings.Using a small ladle, cover the top of the pizza round with a light coating of sauce.
- Next, place the slices of mozzarella onto the pizza and then the basil leaves.
- Place the slices of tomatoes around your pizza.
- Drizzle the pizza with the extra virgin olive oil and then sprinkle with oregano.
- Using the pizza peel, slide the pizza onto your baking steel or baking stone and bake for 5 minutes (on the steel) or 8-15 minutes (if using a stone) at 515F. Keep an eye on your pizza during baking--no two ovens are alike. Check under your crust to ensure that it's browning. If needed for the toppings, you can turn your oven to Broil and bake another 1-2 minutes.
Remove from the oven, slice up your pizza using a pizza cutter wheel and serve with your favorite Chianti or Primativo.
I hope you enjoy your pizza... let us know how it came out!