4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 3/4 (.44 ounce) teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces) olive oil (optional)
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) water, ice cold
Semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting
1. Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). With a large spoon, stir in the oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment), If you are mixing by hand, repeatedly dip one of your hands or the metal spoon into cold water and use it, much like a dough hook, to work the dough vigorously into a smooth mass while rotating the bowl in a circular motion with the other hand. Reverse the circular motion a few times to develop the gluten further. Do this for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are evenly distributed. If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet and doesn't come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a tea- spoon or two of cold water. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky.
2. Oil a sheet pan or other storage container (Tupperware). Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (to make individual-sized pizzas), You can dip the knife into the water between cuts to keep the dough from sticking to it. Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, coat your hands with oil. Transfer the dough balls to container, coat with oil, and cover.
3. Put the dough into the refrigerator overnight to rest the dough, or keep for up to 3 days.
(Note: If you want to save some of the dough for future baking, you can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag. You can store the dough in the freezer for up to 3 months. Transfer them to the refrigerator the day before you plan to make pizza.)
4. On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before making the pizza. Before letting the dough rest at room temperature for 2 hours, oil hands and gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Mis dough again with oil, and cover the dough loosely. Now let rest for 2 hours.
5. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven as hot as possible, up to 800F. If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.
6. Make the pizzas one at a time. Dip your hands, including the backs of your hands and knuckles, in oil and lift I piece of dough by getting under it with a pastry scraper. Very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion on your hands, carefully giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss. If you have trouble tossing the dough, or if the dough keeps springing back, let it rest for 5 to 20 minutes so the gluten can relax, and try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, though this isn't as effective as the toss method.
7. When the dough is stretched out to your satisfaction (about 9 to 12 inches in diameter for a 6-ounce piece of dough), lay in on the pan, making sure there is enough semolina flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide. Lightly top it with sauce and then with your other top- pings, remembering that the best pizzas are topped with a less-is-more philosophy.
8. Slide the topped pizza onto the stone (or bake directly on the sheet pan) and close the door. Wait 2 minutes, then take a peek. If it needs to be rotated 180 degrees for even baking, do so. The pizza should take about 5 to 8 minutes to bake. If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone to a lower self before the next round. if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone for subsequent bakes.
9. Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving, to allow the cheese to set slightly.
Makes six 6-ounce pizza crusts.
from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart (Ten Speed Press) - reprinted with permission
Comments: While this recipe is a lot more difficult than the other, the taste is far superior. It-s also forgiving, as I added a lot of extra flour to the first ball while trying to shape it, and after another hour of rest, it was just as springy and tasty as the others. I'm trying a calzone version tomorrow, with one of the frozen dough balls.