Pizza just seems perfect right now, when the weather is so fine. It's so easy and casual (nothing says laid-back like eating with hands) and endlessly customized to individual tastes.
This is a wonderful dough, easily doubled, easy to work with. I've been using it for years, making changes and substitutes as needed, tweaking it to my liking. It came originally from breadworld.com.
I recently used one recipe-worth to make two pizzas, and I will never use it for just one again - deviding the dough in half yields the best texture and the perfect thickness. The basic recipe is as follows:
THE BEST PIZZA DOUGH
2 1/2 to 3 CUPS BREAD FLOUR
1 TBSP. DRY YEAST
3/4 TSP. SALT
1 CUP WARM WATER
2 TBSP. OLIVE OIL
Stir yeast into water, let stand until foamy. Stir in the oil.
Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl, and pour in the yeast mixture.
Stir until a dough forms a cohesive ball. If dough seems too runny, add up to 1/2 cup more flour to make a soft dough, and stir until moistened. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, five minutes or more. Place dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat, and cover. Let rise until doubled, at least an hour. Once risen, punch down, let rest 15 minutes or so, and then devide in half.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Shape each half of dough into a round, about 12 inches. If dough seems tough and won't stretch, cover and let rest for ten minutes before trying again. Brush shaped dough with olive oil. Top with whatever toppings are on hand, and bake each on a lightly floured, parchment-lined baking sheet for 20-30 minutes, or until done. Slice and serve immediately.
Chopped fresh or dried herbs can be added with the other dry ingredients to make an herbed crust.
Some things I have learned (the hard way) about pizza toppings:
- brush dough with olive oil before baking
- top and bake immediately for the best, chewiest crust imaginable
- try sprinkling minced garlic - it looks like Feta, but tastes better, and it gets fantastically toasty in the oven...the most excellent flavor, ever.
- be generous with the seasonings
- top with tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives
- serve with something bubbly to drink, be it sparkling juice or something a bit more robust...
- top with arugula or other delicate greens, until after the pizza is baked (or you will end up with a disaster of crisped, dry, chip-like objects on top of you pizza. Not appetizing.)
- top with cooked white beans...they turn horribly powdery and tooth-breakingly-hard at 400F.