PIZZA DOUGH INGREDIENTS:
Makes dough for two 10" - 12" pizzas
MAKING THE PIZZA DOUGH
In the large bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer (such as Kitchen Aid), add the warm water. Sprinkle on the yeast and let it sit for five minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Stir to dissolve completely if needed at the end of 5 minutes. Attach a mixing paddle to the mixer. Mix in the flour, olive oil, salt and sugar on low speed for about a minute. Remove the mixing paddle and replace with a dough hook. Knead using the dough hook, on low to medium speed, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If you don't have a mixer, you can mix and knead by hand. If the dough seems a little too wet, sprinkle on a bit more flour. Place ball of dough in a bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. Turn dough around in the bowl so that it gets coated with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in warm place (75-85 degrees F) until it doubles in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. At this point, if you want to make ahead, you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
PREPARING THE PIZZAS
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour. Remove the plastic cover from the dough and punch the dough down so it deflates a bit. Divide the dough in half. Form two round balls of dough. Place each in its own bowl, cover with plastic and let sit for 10 minutes. Prepare your desired toppings. Take one ball of dough and flatten with your hands on a lightly floured work surface. Starting at the center and working outwards, use your fingertips to press the dough to 1/2- inch thick. Turn and stretch the dough until it will not stretch any further. Let the dough relax 5 minutes and then continue to stretch it until it reaches the desired diameter - 10 to 12 inches. Use your palm to flatten the edge of the dough where it is thicker. You can pinch the very edges if you want to form a lip. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil (to prevent it from getting soggy from the toppings). Use your finger tips to press down and make dents along the surface of the dough to prevent bubbling. Let rest another 5 minutes. Repeat with the second ball of dough. Lightly grease your baking sheet with olive oil. Transfer one prepared flattened dough to the baking sheet. If the dough has lost its shape in the transfer, lightly shape it to the desired dimensions. Spoon on the tomato sauce; add onion powder, oregano, basil, garlic and then sprinkle with cheese. Place your desired toppings on the pizza. Bake pizzas one at a time until the crust is browned and the cheese is golden, about 10-15 minutes. If you want to, toward the end of the cooking time, you can sprinkle on a little more cheese and add fresh basil.
Appeared in print on 4/28/10