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Pizza is the ultimately flexible flatbread. The only topping we consider essential is cheese- everything else can be left to chance, or to what needs to be used from the refrigerator. We keep a baking stone on the bottom oven rack and, for a crispy crust, use a perforated pizza pan, placing the pan directly on the stone.
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Flour-Unbleached All-Purpose, Special Bread, 100% White Whole Wheat, or a combination
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons King Arthur Easy-Roll Dough Improver (optional, but good)
1 teaspoon Pizza Dough Flavor (optional, but good)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients, and knead on a lightly oiled work surface until the dough is smooth, about 8 minutes.
Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl, turn to grease the top, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Pat the dough into a well-oiled 12- to 14-inch round pizza pan. Bake the dough for 6 to 8 minutes, then add the sauce and toppings of your choice and bake an additional 5 to 8 minutes. If the dough has puffed during baking, just prick it and flatten it before spreading on the sauce of your choice.
Due to time constraints, we usually use a prepared sauce, adding fresh basil and Italian herbs. We often start with mushrooms, black olives, and red and green peppers, but we sometimes add other vegetables such as chopped spinach, broccoli, asparagus, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, or artichoke hearts-whatever is on hand. Grated mozzarella and Parmesan are sprinkled on top, and for a rich flavor, we finish by drizzling on a tablespoon or so of good-quality olive oil.