Friday night has always been pizza night at my house and last night was no exception. Whoever invented the pizza stone was a genius! Ha—probably a caveman, right? At any rate, I think I make a different kind every time. This is the one I made last night:
1 ¼ cups warm water (bathwater warm)
1-2 tablespoons sugar or honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons yeast (or one package)
3-3 ½ cups bread flour (you can sub 1 cup of whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
In mixing bowl, combine water, sugar or honey, oil and yeast. Let this sit for 5-10 minutes or until it gets kind of foamy. This is called proofing your yeast and it makes sure that your yeast is active and working.
If, like me, you are using a stand mixer with a dough hook*, add 3 cups of flour and the salt to your bowl, attach the dough hook to the mixer and knead the dough for about 5 minutes. The dough should “clean” the sides of the bowl. Add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, if it is too sticky. Place the kneaded dough in an oiled bowl, turning it so that both sides have a little oil. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set it in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it doubles in size.
While the dough is rising, pre-heat your oven and pizza stone to 475 ° F. Punch the dough down (don’t worry—it won’t punch back) and divide it in two. Place one of the dough pieces on a floured surface and shape it into a pizza (about 10”-12”).
I know, it looks a little like the dog peed on it--not my best picture--it's better with the oil spread out.
*If you don’t have a stand mixer, simply add as much flour to the yeast mixture as you can stir with a wooden spoon. Turn this onto a floured surface and knead the dough by hand, adding flour as necessary, until the dough is soft and flexible, about 5-8 minutes.
Topping the pizza:
Put some cornmeal on a pizza peel (if you don’t have one, put it on a cookie sheet) and place the shaped dough on top. Spread a couple of drops of olive oil on the dough and then top with sauce, either homemade or jarred (I used a sauce put out by a local pizza chain). At this point, you can add whatever floats your boat. This time I chopped up some onion, green peppers, fresh banana peppers and mushrooms. Other times, I’ve used sausage, pepperoni, tomatoes, spinach---whatever I have on hand. Then I top it with shredded cheese.
Slide the pizza onto the pre-heated pizza stone and bake for about 12 minutes. I turn on the convection oven for this to brown the top more.
Slide the pizza peel under your baked pie and pull it out. Let it cool for just a few minutes, so as not to completely peel the skin from the roof of your mouth and then enjoy!