- 2.5 cups (300 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 7 ounces warm water (105 degrees F – 115 degrees F)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons semolina or all-purpose flour, for the pizza peel (divided)
- 1 cup pureed or crushed San Marzano (or Italian plum) canned tomatoes
- 2-3 fresh garlic cloves, minced with a garlic press
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 large pinches of kosher salt
- 2 – 3 tablespoons finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
- 7 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (preferably fresh mozzarella not packed in water)
- 5 – 6 large fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnishing
- crushed dried red pepper flakes (optional)
Prepare Pizza Dough
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add the warm water and olive oil, and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the dough just begins to come together.
- Scrape the dough onto a well-floured counter top and knead the dough for three minutes. It should quickly come together and begin to get sticky. Dust the dough with flour as needed. After three minutes, the dough should be smooth, slightly elastic, and tacky. Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with olive oil, and place the dough into the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) and allow the dough to rise in a warm, dry area of your kitchen for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat Oven and Pizza Stone
- Place the pizza stone on the center (or top third) rack of your oven, and preheat the oven and pizza stone to 550 degrees Fahrenheit (for at least 30-45 minutes).
- In a small bowl, stir together the pureed tomatoes, minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, pepper, and salt. Set aside another small bowl with the cubed mozzarella cheese (pat the cheese with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture). Set aside the basil leaves and grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
- Separate the dough into two equal-sized portions. It will deflate slightly, but that is OK. Place the dough on a large plate or floured counter top, cover gently with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Assemble the Pizza
- Sprinkle the pizza peel with a tablespoon of the cornmeal. Gently stretch one ball of pizza dough into roughly a 10-inch circle. If the dough springs back or is too elastic, allow it to rest for an additional five minutes. The edges of the dough can be slightly thicker, but make sure the center of the dough is thin (you should be able to see some light through it if you held it up). Gently transfer the dough onto the cornmeal-dusted pizza peel or baking sheet.
- Drizzle or brush the dough lightly with olive oil (teaspoon or so). Using a large spoon, add roughly 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce onto the pizza dough, leaving a 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch border on all sides. Use the back of the spoon to spread it evenly and thinly.
- Sprinkle a tablespoon of parmigiano-reggiano cheese onto the pizza sauce.
- Add half of the cubed mozzarella, distributing it evenly over the entire pizza.
- Tear a few large basil leaves, and sprinkle the basil over the pizza. At this point, I’ll occasionally stretch the sides of the dough out a bit to make it even thinner.
- Gently slide the pizza from the peel onto the heated baking stone. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling and caramelized and the edges of the pizza are golden brown.
- Remove the pizza carefully from the oven with the pizza peel, transfer to a wooden cutting board or foil, drizzle the top with olive oil, some grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and chiffonade of fresh basil. Slice and serve immediately and/or prepare the second pizza.
- If you’re serving two pizzas at once, place the cooked pizza on a separate baking sheet while you prepare the other pizza. In the last few minutes of cooking, place the prepared pizza into the oven (on a rack below the pizza stone).
- There is no need to dissolve the instant dry yeast in warm water before using (as commonly believed). Active dry yeast has been reformulated in recent years to contain significantly smaller granules and will not have trouble dissolving into the dough. However, it is important to ensure that your active dry yeast is indeed alive and well. Double check your expiration date and when in a doubt, proof it using these instructions.
- If preparing the dough in advance: once the dough has rested for two hours, separate into two portions, wrap each piece of dough well in plastic wrap, and place them in a freezer-safe bag. The dough can be chilled in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours or frozen for 3 months. Thaw the dough in the refrigerator, and allow it to stand at room temperature (in a greased bowl, covered with a kitchen towel) for at least 30 minutes before using.