1In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, lukewarm water, and 1/2 cup bread flour. Mix well and let sit until bubbly, about 30 minutes.
2In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 1/2 cups bread flour and the salt until evenly distributed.
3Once the yeast mixture is nice and bubbly and looks like foamy beer, add 3/4 cup cold water and the olive oil to it.
4Turn on the mixer and begin adding the bread flour mixture in increments, then mix for 5 minutes, until the dough start creeping up the dough hook and detaching from the sides of the bowl.
5Place the dough in a large bowl lightly greased with olive oil. Turn to coat all sides of the dough with oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a clean tea towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punch dough down, and let rise another hour.
6Divide the dough into 4 equal discs. Lightly flour a work surface. Using your fingers or heels of your hands (and a rolling pin, if you prefer) stretch the disks out until 13 inches in diameter. The disc should be very thin, less than 1/8 inch.
Importante!: If you’re making the pizza within the hour after forming the pizza dough discs, they can be kept at room temperature. Otherwise, place them on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate up to 12 hours before baking, as long as the dough doesn’t rise too much because the acidity will creep in and the flavor will sour. Ideally though, you should make the pizzas the same day you make the dough.
1You can use a preheated pizza stone in your home oven. It’s best to heat it for 1 hour at 500 degrees F before baking. Alternatively, you can preheat a wood-fired pizza oven to very hot 4 hours before cooking.
2Add tomatoes to a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
3Using a spoon, spread one-fourth of the tomato sauce on 1 disc of pizza dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Sprinkle with one-fourth of the mozzarella cheese.
4Gently place the the pizza on pizza stone and bake for 5 minutes, until golden with slight signs of charring. If using wood- fired oven, gently place the pizza on the oven floor, bake until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes.
5Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Slice, garnish with basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and serve immediately.
6Repeat with the remaining 3 pizza discs.
About Tomatoes and Mozzarella:
We usually use pelati tomatoes, well blended with a mixer, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Since we do always have some sauce leftovers, we never add oregano to it, just in case we decide to use the tomatoes a couple of days later to make a pasta sauce… also, oregano is not one of our favorite herbs.
We also grind the mozzarella, instead of slicing it… By doing this we ensure that the dough does not get wet when the cheese starts melting, and also, ground cheese is easier to spread evenly on the pizza.
The Pizzas That We Made…
Margherita – Tomatoes, Mozzarella, olive oil. Add Basil before serving.
Napoli – Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Capers, Anchovies, Olive Oil, Oregano.
Herbs Covaccino – Mozzarella, Rosemary, Sage, Olive Oil (Onion optional).
Potatoes and Stracchino – Slices of Boiled Potatoes, Stracchino or other soft spreadable cheese, Red Onion, Sage, Olive Oil.
Stracchino and Sausage – Stracchino, Pork Sausage, White Onion, Sage, Olive Oil.
Tomatoes and Bufala – Fresh Tomatoes sliced thin, Bufala Mozzarella sliced thin (Bufala is too soft to be ground), Olive Oil. Add Basil before serving.
And for your munchies, or to help you finish the bottle of Grappa in front of you…
Nutella Pizza – No Olive Oil on this one!