- 1½ cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional, for brownness)
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional, for tenderness)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
Combine the water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and whisk until dissolved. Wait 5 minutes to proof the yeast. Add salt, oil, and 3½ cups of the flour and place in a mixer with a dough hook. Knead together, adding rest of flour (or more if needed) to keep dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl. Knead until you have a smooth, soft dough, at least five minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl (olive oil) and cover with a piece of plastic wrap or a damp towel. Set aside to rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 60-90 minutes, until double in size. Punch down at let rise a second time for 30-45 minutes. Cut the risen dough into two equal-sized pieces and knead each portion into a round. Use your hand to stretch and shape, perhaps throwing up in air to make rounder and thinner in the middle. Don’t use a rolling pin unless you have to, since it destroys air pockets.
If using a thin, uninsulated baking sheet, coat pan with corn meal before placing dough in pan. If using a baking stone and pizza peal, coat the peal with corn meal before placing dough on the peal—but make sure you know how to get a topping-laden dough off the peal. (I prefer to use a pan, since dripping oil and spilled toppings on a pizza stone can set off smoke detectors.)
After placing dough on pan or peal, spread pizza sauce evenly on dough, leaving about ½ inch sauce-free zone on the rim. Sprinkle pizza with a pinch or two of dried oregano and freshly ground black pepper. Next, sprinkle pizza with a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Romano cheese. Sprinkle 1 to 1½ cups of grated mozzarella cheese over the sauce. Add desired toppings. Drizzle exposed rim of dough with olive oil to give it a nice golden crust. Bake in a very hot oven—at least 500˚F—for 10-15 minutes or until brown. Makes 2, 14-inch pizzas.