I always make the dough for several crusts at once and freeze some for later. If you only want one crust, reduce the ingredients accordingly. I use King Arthur flours. (It's good to use the same flour all the time, so you can rely on the results. I latched onto King Arthur a while back, for better or for worse, and I've been pretty happy with it.)
Yield: 2 pizzas, about 12-14" diameter, or 8 individual-sized pizzas, about 6-7" diameter.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teapsoons SAF instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1-1/4 C + 2 T warm water
[option: chopped herbs, roasted garlic, chopped sundried tomatoes, etc.]
[Note: in my new low-carb diabetes regimen, I've been making a thinner, slightly crunchier crust than I was before so I've cut the dough quantity in half. This reduces the carbs in a slice (1/8 pie) from about 59 grams to about 28.5 grams. (If you're an old fan of Stephencooks' pizzas and don't need to watch the carbs as I do, feel free to double the above quantities for two pizzas. It's tried and true and very popular.) September, 2009.]
Put all ingredients except water in food processor with steel blade in place. Process for a few seconds, then pour the water slowly into the chute, a quarter cup at a time. Process until the dough comes together into a ball and starts to ride around on the blade. The dough should be somewhat dry, but not too stiff. Sometimes, due to humidity or whatever, you have to adjust by adding a little more flour or water. This becomes easy with practice.
Turn out on board and divide into two balls.
[At this point you can freeze the dough, in plastic bags somewhat larger than the doughballs (to allow for the expansion that will take place before they freeze). When ready to use, remove the frozen dough ball from the plastic, place in a bowl, pour some olive oil over it, cover with plastic wrap and allow about 9 hours for the dough to thaw and rise to double. In other words, put it out in the morning when you get up if you want to have pizza for dinner.]
If not freezing, roll each ball in some olive oil and place in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, to rise until doubled, about 1 to 1-1/2 hrs.
Put the stone in the oven if it's not there already and start the oven at 450º. Then roll or stretch by hand the risen dough into pizza shells. Spread a couple of tablespoons of cornmeal over the peel and place one of the shells on it. [If you are making two, spread some cornmeal on a clean section of counter or cutting board and lay out the second one there.] Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise 1/2 hour.
Note: the first rising may be slowed by placing the dough in the refrigerator. Or, it may be accelerated by placing it in a warmer environment.Equipment
Pizza Stone A ceramic platter that the pizza sits on in the oven. Get the largest one that fits in your oven. Having two stones greatly simplifies the process of making two pizzas for a crowd. The stone can stay in the oven all the time, with your baking dishes just sitting on top of it. The stone must be preheated for at least half an hour before the pizza goes in.
Peel A big wooden paddle, for sliding the pizza in and out of the oven. The size should be slightly smaller than your stone. If you wash it with water it will warp, making it less useful. I just wipe mine with a kitchen towel. If you do want to wash it now and then with water, be sure to wet both sides evenly and then dry it as well as you can with a towel.
Food Processor Of course there was pizza thousands of years before
food processors. But my dough recipe, developed for the food processor,
is so easy you'll want to go out and buy that processor. Get one with a
fairly large bowl -- I think mine is called an 11-cup bowl.
Pizza Knife This wheel-bladed knife is also not essential but it's fun to use. Get a good one that will hold an edge as they are difficult to hone.
All my pizzas are designed in three layers: the Base, the Toppings, and the Garnishes.
When the dough is ready, spread the Base ingredients on and bake for 10 minutes in the preheated 450º oven.
[If you are making two, the best way is to spread the Base ingredients on both, slide the first one into the oven from the peel and then slip the peel under the second one and put it into the oven. Getting the unbaked shell, loaded with toppings, onto the peel takes some practice but it's not impossible. The alternative is to put the first pizza into the oven, then pull the second shell onto the peel, spread on the base ingredients and then put it into the oven -- but if you're not very fast the timing of the two pizzas with this method is not in sync, making the whole process more complicated.]
Remove from oven, add the toppings, and return pizza to oven. Immediately reduce heat to 400º and bake 10 more min.
Pizza should be brown and crisp at the edges. Remember that all ovens perform differently, and be experimental about your timing the first few times. I developed this recipe using a convection oven, which is faster than a conventional oven. After you've done it a few times you'll know exactly how long each step takes in your oven.
Brush the edges of the crust with a scant amount of olive oil, add the garnishes and cut into serving pieces.
A note about design: Pizzas should look good, when they are whole and when they are in a slice on the plate. For that reason I always cut my pizzas into 8 slices, and when I put the toppings and garnishes on, I organize them according to the slices - especially when there are large pieces, like tomato slices, shrimp or medallions of fresh mozzarella. Often I chop up more of the large items and scatter them in the center of the pie. This leads to a design that looks like an 8-pointed asterisk. By doing this, I insure that all the slices are more or less the same and look organized and whole.