Thanks to a recipe from the lovely Sarah, and a little bit of advice from Alton Brown, we've been consuming quite a bit of homemade pizza at our house.
It's one of the best dough recipes that I've tried, and I especially love that it doesn't need to sit overnight in the fridge. Now, Alton Brown says that dough that doesn't rest in the fridge is sub-par, but I say he's wrong. This recipe makes a great dough and you don't have to plan to make it so far in advance. Personally, I'm much less likely to make a pizza if I have to start it the day before. That is more forethought than I have.
The pizza you are looking at is especially exciting because it had fresh onions, tomatoes, and basil from our garden. And it had a fresh Ancho Pepper from a very generous neighbor's garden. It was delicious.
Here is the recipe:
4 1/4 cups bread flour*
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 cups warm water
Put 4 cups of flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Whisk together. Pour in the oil and water, and using a dough hook, knead together until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. If dough is still very sticky, add a little more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Turn dough out on a lightly floured counter and knead by hand, adding the remaining 1/4 cup flour* as needed to prevent dough from sticking to the counter top. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter, cut it into three even pieces, and cover with plastic wrap. Working with one piece of dough at a time, shape into a smooth, round ball, cover again with the plastic wrap, and let rest 20-30 minutes.
Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position, place a baking stone on the rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Let the baking stone heat for at least 30 minutes.
Uncover each ball of dough** and stretch and shape the dough into a 12 inch round on a piece of parchment paper. Allow the dough to rise for another 20-30 minutes. (If you prefer a thinner crust, skip this rise. I find that this creates the perfect dough right between thick and thin crust, and just the right level of chewy.) Spread one cup of pizza sauce over the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch edge of dough uncovered. Place toppings on, and sprinkle with 4 oz [1 cup] of cheese. Lightly brush the edge of the dough with oil.
Slide the parchment paper and pizza onto a rimless [or inverted] baking sheet, then slide it onto the hot baking stone. Bake until the crust edges brown and the cheese is golden in spots, 8-13 minutes.
Transfer the pizza to a cutting board or other surface. Sprinkle with fresh, chopped basil and cut the pizza into 6-8 wedges. Let stone reheat 5 minutes before baking the next pizza.
If you can stand the wait, let the pizza cool for 5 minutes or so before slicing. If you cut the pizza while it's too hot, the cheese will ooze down to the middle.
*It's been incredibly humid this summer and I have been using about 5 cups of flour, total.
**For a family of 3, 2 pizzas is more than enough for dinner and leftovers. I usually freeze 1 ball of dough and make lunch with it at some point later in the week.