- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 ¼ cups warm water (100 -110 degrees)
- 1 ½ teaspoons sugar or honey
- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour (if you want a wheat crust, substitute ¾ cup wheat flour for some of the all purpose flour)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Cornmeal mixed with all purpose flour, for dusting the work surface
Place the warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar/honey and dry yeast. Give it a stir to combine then set aside in a draft free area to “proof.” This should take about 10 to 15 minutes. The mixture will look foamy.
Combine the 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook or a large food processor fitted with a stainless blade. If using a food processor, make sure it is sturdy enough to handle dough preparation. (We use a Cuisinart). With the mixer or processor on, add the yeast mixture and the olive oil. Continue to mix until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. If too sticky, add the additional ½ cup flour as needed. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead several times. It should be smooth but still slightly sticky.
Transfer the dough to a large bowl that has been either lightly coated with olive oil (put it on a paper towel and lightly coat bowl) or sprayed with a nonstick food spray such as PAM. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place 1 to 1½ hours or until doubled in size. Punch down dough and turn out onto a well-floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 pieces (about 4 ounces each) and shape each piece into a ball. I place them on a parchment lined pan and cover them loosely with either a kitchen towel or a piece of plastic wrap. Let stand for 15 minutes. For easier handling, you can refrigerate the balls briefly. The dough is easier to handle if it is about 60 degrees.
Dust a work surface with a mixture of half regular flour and half cornmeal . Preheat a large 12-inch skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until very hot. While this is going on, start stretching the dough. Press and stretch the dough with hands into a 9 to 10-inch round, dusting work surface with just enough flour mixture to keep the dough from sticking. You can also use a small rolling pin to help you create the round. Carefully place dough round on the preheated skillet and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until tan with a few brown spots on it. Carefully flip and cook crust for about 1 minute more. Transfer to a rack and let cool. Repeat with remaining balls. When ready to use, place your toppings on the crust. I like to brush the crust with a little olive oil before putting the toppings on.
Another trick is to drizzle a flavored olive oil over the pizza prior to final baking. Place crust straight into the oven (you can use a pizza peel or a baking sheet). Bake for about 8 minutes in a 350-degree preheated oven. If you like, place under the broiler to do a final crisp.
Chef Tips – The dough stretches a bit easier if it is just below room temperature but don’t try to stretch it cold. When completely cool, individually wrap parbaked crusts and freeze them.
Remove about 15 minutes prior to using.