This is honestly the best pizza I've ever had in my life. The original recipe comes from Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix via May 2009's Martha Stewart Living. This recipe has a delicate crumb and a perfectly crunchy crust--use a preheated baking stone for best results. And I'll be honest with you--you need toppings that are worthy of this crust! We have also found that this works very well if you refrigerate it after the first rise, making a perfect choice if you have afternoon church--just divide, cover with plastic wrap, and stick in the fridge, then take it out when you get home while the oven heats up.
Dough (makes 4 12-inch pizzas)
2 1/4 t. active dry yeast
2 c. warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
5 to 5 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. fine sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil, for greasing bowl
**scroll down for topping suggestions**
Dissolve yeast in warm water, let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 3 c. flour and the salt, stirring until smooth. Stir in additional 2 c. flour, adding flour (up to 1/2 c.) 1 T. at a time, stirring until dough comes away from bowl but is still sticky (I use my KitchenAid stand mixer for all this).
Turn dough out of bowl and onto a lightly floured surface, kneading with floured hands. Fold the dough back over itself, repeating until it's easily to handle and less sticky, about ten times. Knead normally until dough is smooth, elastic, and soft, but still a little tacky, about 10 minutes.
Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover with plastic, let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume (2-3 hours; when pressed with finger the indent should remain).
Place pizza stone in oven and preheat to 500 for an hour. Scrape dough out of bowl onto floured surface, cut into 4 pieces, and shape into balls. Dust with flour, and cover with plastic. Let rest 20-30 minutes until dough relaxes and almost doubles. Turn over a baking sheet (we like jelly roll pans) and cover it liberally with cornmeal.
Holding top edge of 1 dough ball in both hands, let bottom edge touch work surface. Carefully move hands around edge to form a circle, as if turning a wheel. Hold dough on back of your hand, letting its weight stretch into a 12-inch round (Neil likes to toss it at this point, but I always ruin it, so if he's not home I just stretch it).
Transfer dough to inverted baking sheet (on cornmeal side). Arrange toppings, then carefully slide the dough off the baking sheet and onto the hot stone. We find that this generally requires two people with metal spatulas (see picture). Bake pizza for 12 minutes or until crust is crisp and golden brown; remove from oven with peel and serve hot!
Our favorite combination (pictured) is pesto, grilled eggplant (brush cut eggplant with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, grill on panini press or George Foreman-style grill for 4-5 minutes or until done), red onion rings, shaved Parmesan, and black olives. In summer, we add thick slices of heirloom tomatoes (Brandywine is our favorite). We also make one with olives, peppers, onions, and mushrooms for the kids, who aren't crazy about eggplant. Our favorite jarred sauce is Classico Traditional Sweet Basil.
other suggestions from the MS Living article:
- tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil
- tomato sauce, oregano, garlic
- tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, gaeta olives, salami
- fresh mozzarella, ricotta, parmigiano-reggiano, arugula
- parmigiano-reggiano, red onion, rosemary, pistachios
- smoked mozzarella, fennel sausage, oven-roasted onion
- fresh mozzarella, mortadella, garlic
- heirloom tomatoes, pecorino, dried oregano, pancetta