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food

Crash Course: How to Make the Perfect Pizza

Tips on how to make the perfect pizza at home.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees), plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing dough
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 4 cups bread flour (aerated), plus extra for dusting
  • 3 tablespoons semolina flour, divided
  • 2/3 cup favorite tomato sauce, homemade or store-bought, divided
  • 12 ounces freshly shredded low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 6 ounces freshly shredded fontina cheese, divided
  • 8 ounces pepperoni sausage, thinly sliced, divided
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)
  • Red pepper flakes, for garnish (optional)

Steps

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour. In a liquid measuring cup, accurately measure the water. Stir in the sugar and salt to dissolve. Add the olive oil and yeast. Gently stir. Turn the mixer on to low to gently incorporate and then increase the speed to low-medium, mixing until a dough ball forms, 3 minutes.
  2. Dust a clean, flat work surface with flour. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl onto the floured surface and lightly dust the dough. Continuously and vigorously knead by hand for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth, elastic and no longer sticky. Pull off a small piece of dough and stretch until thin – this is called the windowpane test. The dough should be almost translucent without tearing. If the dough tears, continue to knead. Windowpane test your dough again. Once it’s ready, cut the dough in half and form each of the doughs into a ball, pinching the dough on the underside to seal it. Place each in a separate airtight container (one that’s bigger than the dough to give room to proof) and put into the refrigerator to cold ferment for 8 hours (for a quick pizza) and up to 4 days (ideal).
  3. When ready to make your pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Re-form into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Gently cover with a clean towel and set aside for 2 hours, to both rise and come up to room temperature.
  4. One hour into the dough’s rise, place oven racks on the very top and upper-middle positions. Put a pizza stone or cast-iron pan on the top rack and a pizza stone on the rack below it.
  5. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  6. Heat the cast-iron pan and pizza stone for 1 hour.
  7. Dust a pizza peel (or upside down cookie sheet) with 1 1/2 tablespoons of semolina flour. Remove the dough from the bowl onto the floured surface.
  8. Using your hands, stretch and press the dough evenly from the middle outward, leaving a puffy perimeter for an airy crust to form. To stretch the dough further, pick it up, holding it about 1 inch from the perimeter so as to not deflate the crust, and gently rotate the dough in a circular motion, allowing gravity to evenly stretch it.
  9. Place the dough back onto the peel and re-shape into a circle.
  10. Brush the crust with olive oil. Spread 1/3 cup of tomato sauce onto the dough. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and fontina. Arrange half of the pepperoni slices on top.
  11. Carefully slide the pizza onto the hot pizza stone. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes until the crust is golden brown and bubbled, and the cheese is melted. Garnish with Parmesan cheese, basil leaves and red pepper flakes, if desired.
  12. Repeat with the remaining dough.