This recipe I'm giving you is the dummy version of Jeff Varasano's. Recently I've been making it to his specs (with the exception of the sourdough yeast starter) and it's even better than the recipe I'm giving you. This recipe makes a good pizza, I promise. It just takes practice.
King Arthur Bread Flour Bread Machine Yeast Salt Canned Italian Plum Tomatos (Not Italian Style, but the ones from Italy) Good Mozzarella Balls Fresh Basil
In a large mixing bowl combine 1 cup of hot water, 1/2 teaspoon of bread yeast, a dash of salt, and 3 tablespoons of bread flour and mix with a fork or whisk for 30 seconds. Cover with a dish cloth and let sit for about 20 min.
After 20 min lift the cloth and observe a foam like that should have formed on the top. (If the foam isn't there, that's ok. It will still turn out.)
Slowly start mixing flour into the bowl in small-ish increments. Continue until the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl easily, but has still retained a good bit of moisture.
Let the dough rest for 20 min.
Prepare a surface for kneading by dusting with flour. (Marble works the best, but I use a wooden butcher block.) Knead the dough for about 4 or 5 minutes, dusting the dough with flour occasionally. Try not to add too much flour, you want to retain as much of the moisture in the dough as possible. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 balls and place in a covered tupperware container.
Refrigerate for 24-48 hrs.
When you get the dough out of the refrigerator it won't look like it's risen much at all. Don't fret! This is the way it should look. All the tiny holes in the dough ball are going to interact with the moisture inside ball and the heat of the oven and hopefully blow up like a balloon. This is why you should NEVER use a rolling pin. Doing so will pop all those precious bubbles.
Assembling the Pizza-Step 2.
With a pizza stone inside the oven, preheat for 1 hr at 500 degrees. (Most store bought pizza stones have a temp rating of 450…mine cracked, but it's still usable.)
Transfer one of the dough balls from the tupperware to the kneading surface.
You can't over-knead pizza dough, but you can add too much flour. It takes a while to get the hang of this part, but after making it a few times it starts to make sense.
Using your fingers, form crust on the outside of your pizza dough while leaving the middle of the dough ball thick. This is the part you're going to stretch out, so there needs to be an ample amount of dough in the center to stretch. If you're lucky it will look kind of like this:
This part takes a little practice. Drape the pizza dough over your fists and start pulling out the center of the dough, attempting to make it thinner in the middle. Ideally you want the crust on the outside to remain thick and the center of the pizza to end up thin. But don't force it, be gentle or you'll tear holes in the dough and have to start over. And it's not as easy to work the dough the second time.
Have a pizza peel ready. With your hands, rub about 2 tablespoons of flour onto the pizza peel, completely covering the top. Doing this will ensure that your pizza will slide off easily onto the stone.
Place your shaped crust onto the peel. Add sauce and toppings, working as quickly as possible. Shake the peel every 15 sec or so, to make sure the dough isn't sticking.
Slide prepared pizza onto the stone. This takes practice as well. The first time I did this step I misjudged how far back on the stone I should go and ended up with have of my pizza hanging off the front of the rack.
Set a timer for 7 min…try to resist the urge to check on the pizza, because every time you open the oven you let all the heat out. If you have a clear glass front oven with a light…then you're golden. Just pull the pizza out when the crust starts to get a little char and becomes a golden brown color.
Using your peel, retrieve your pizza from the oven.