1I highly recommend cooking by weight. It is fast, and easy to get the exact hydration (water to flour ratio) and dough ball size you want. Personally, I do not use recipes or a mixing cup when I cook dinner for the family, but pizza and bread dough is different. Being exact counts, and nothing works better than a digital scale.
2Add all ingredients in mixing bowl. Mix the dough in a stand mixer, by hand or in a bread machine. If you are using a stand mixer, mix it slowly for two minutes, faster for 5 minutes, and slow again for 2 minutes.
3Cover the dough and let it rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until double. Punch it down and push out the air bubbles.
4Form the dough into a large ball, then cut it into 5 ½ ounce pieces.
5To make your pizza balls, shape each piece of dough into a ball. Gently roll your dough into a ball, then stretch the top of the ball down and around the rest of the ball, until the outer layer wraps around the other side. Pinch the two ends together to make a smooth ball with a tight outer "skin." Set your ball seam-side down where it can rest. Dust your pizza balls with flour, and store them under a damp towel, in a proofing tray, or under plastic wrap. This will prevent the outside of the ball from drying out and creating a crust, and becoming difficult to work with. The top of the pizza ball should be soft and silky.
6Your pizza balls will need to rest for about an hour to become soft and elastic, so that they can be easily stretched into a thin crust pizza.
If you won't need your dough for more than an hour, refrigerate it until you are ready to start.
7While your oven is heating (set it on the highest setting usually between 500 – 550F), you have time to collect and prepare your food for cooking. You will need:
· Fresh Mozzarella
· Tomato Sauce (try Canned whole Italian San Marzano Tomatoes 2 tablespoons of good olive oil and 2 teaspoons of dried oregano, blend DO NOT COOK!!)
· Olive Oil
· Fresh Basil
8Assembling Your Pizza
Dust your hands with flour, and take a Pizza Ball. Flip it over so that the soft bottom side faces up, gently shape the ball into a flat disk, and then start pulling, stretching and turning the disk in the air to make the dough thinner and thinner. Try to keep working in a circle to keep the thickness of the dough consistent, avoiding thick and thin spots. At the point where can cannot get the dough thinner without making a hole, put your pizza on a floured work surface, and use your fingertips to work out the thick spots by pushing the dough to the outside. We try to make our pizzas about as thick as a credit card and about 10" in diameter.
Remember that the more you handle the dough, the tougher it becomes. We don't recommend using a rolling pin, which is hard on the dough and will give you a thin, but tough pizza. Try to shape your dough in the air as much as possible, before you lay it on the counter -- it will enjoy not being over-handled, and will reward you with a pizza that is both crisp and delicate.
Also, don't worry if your pizza is not round. We know a professional chef and bakery owner who loves to make his pizzas "football" shaped. He is so gentle with the dough and creative with his ingredients that his non-round pizzas are among the best we have ever tasted.
You can assemble your pizza either on a solid surface, then transfer it to a metal pizza peel for cooking; or you can assemble your pizzas on short wooden peels, which you can use to place the pizza in the oven. Most kitchens do not have wood or metal peels a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal works just fine.
9Cooking Your Pizza
Your oven is up to temp 500F ; you have assembled your first pizza, and you are ready to go. Test to make sure you pizza is not stuck on your peel by moving your peel forward and backward using short jerks - it should slide easily around. If it does stick, lift it up on one side using your fingers, and throw a little corn meal underneath. Slide your peel back and forth, and that should loosen it up.
If your pizzas consistently stick to the peel, use a more corn meal underneath your pizza dough before you start decorating. Also, if you have a group of people assembling pizzas, and one sits for a while before you place it in the oven, there is a large chance it will stick. Choose a spot roughly centered in your oven and slide your pizza to that spot. The best way to place your pizza is to push your peel toward your spot, then stop it short just short the spot, allowing the pizza to slide off the peel. Pull the peel backward as the pizza slides forward.
The perfect pizza is bubbling on top with completely melted (and possibly slightly browned) cheese, has a brown outer crust, The crust is crunchy on the outside and soft and delicate on the inside. Everything is steaming hot. Throw on some fresh basil, use a pizza cutting wheel to cut your pizza into pieces and you have done it.