Makes two 10-inch pizzas
For the dough:
- ¾ cup lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon active-dry or instant yeast
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
For the base:
- classic red sauce or white sauce, a thin spread of ricotta cheese, or a simple brush of olive oil.
For toppings, sautéed onions, red peppers, mushrooms, cooked sausage or bacon.
For cheese, one or a combination of the following:
Set the oven to 500 degrees or as hot as it will go and let it heat for at least a half an hour before making the pizza. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the lower-middle part of the oven now.
Combine the water and yeast in a mixing bowl, and stir to dissolve the yeast. The mixture should look like thin miso soup. Add the flour and salt to the bowl and mix until you’ve formed shaggy dough.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface along with any loose flour still in the bowl. Knead until all the flour is incorporated, and the dough is smooth and elastic, about five minutes. The dough should still feel moist and slightly tacky. If it’s sticking to your hands and counter-top like bubble gum, work in more flour one tablespoon at a time, until it is smooth.
If you have time at this point, you can let the dough rise until you need it or until doubled in bulk (about an hour and a half). After rising, you can use the dough or refrigerate it for up to three days.
Cover the dough with the upside-down mixing bowl or a clean kitchen towel while you prepare the pizza toppings.
When ready to make the pizza, tear off two pieces of parchment paper roughly 12-inches wide. Divide the dough in two with a bench scraper. Working with one piece of the dough at a time, form it into a large disk with your hands and lay it on parchment paper.
Work from the middle of the dough outwards, using the heel of your hand to gently press and stretch the dough, until it’s about ¼-inch thick or less. For an extra-thin crust, roll it with a rolling pin. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for five minutes and then continue rolling.
The dough will stick to the parchment paper, making it easier
for you to roll out, and the pizza is baked while still on the parchment. As it cooks, the dough will release from the parchment, and you can slide the paper midway through cooking.
Spoon a few tablespoons of sauce into the center of the pizza and use the back of a spoon to spread it out to the edges. Pile on all of your toppings.
Using a bread peel or the backside of a baking sheet, slide your pizza (still on the parchment) onto the baking stone in the oven. If you don’t have a baking stone, bake the pizza right on the baking sheet.
Bake for about five minutes and then rotate the pizza, removing the parchment from under the pizza. Bake for another three to five minutes, until the crust is golden-brown and the cheese looks toasty.
Remove the pizza from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack. Repeat with shaping, topping and baking second pizza.
Let both pizzas cool for about five minutes before slicing and serving. Makes about four slices per pizza.