I based the pizza dough on two recipes from the New York Times Bitten blog, one from Mark Bittman and another from Emily Weinstein.
Basic Pizza Dough
Yield: 1 thick crust (or 2 thin crust) half sheet-pan sized pizza
1 to 1 1/4 cups warm water
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 packet active dry yeast
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus additional couple of tablespoons for work surface)
2 teaspoons medium-grain sea salt or kosher salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil (separated)
Activating the yeast:
- Stir together 1/2 cup of the warm water, honey, and yeast. Let sit in a warm place until the mixture is bubbly.
- In a large bowl stir together the yeast mixture, flour, salt, and olive oil. Add another 1/2 cup warm water. When the dough begins to form a ball, it's a good time to start folding with your hands (much easier than using a spoon). Add additional warm water in very small amounts (up to 1/4 cup total) if needed to get the dough to form a ball. The texture should be slightly sticky, but workable.
- Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured work surface (I did this on the counter). Knead for 5 to 10 minutes. Add a little more flour to the surface if the dough starts to stick.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel (or plastic wrap). Set the bowl in a warm place to rise (I kept the bowl on the stovetop, with the oven set to 200 F to provide some warmth). Allow dough to rise until it has doubled in size (about 1 to 2 hours).
- While the dough rises, prepare your pizza toppings (see below).
- When you are ready to assemble and bake the pizza, preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Move dough to a lightly floured surface and punch it down. Divide into portions and roll each portion into a ball.
- Transfer a portion of dough to a lightly oiled baking sheet, and shape the dough with your hands into desired shape. Brush crust with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Add toppings and bake for 20-25 minutes (for thick crust like we made below) or 10-15 minutes for thin crust.
Mise en place: toppings and dough, ready for assembly
- Fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- Oil-cured black olives, chopped
- Hot Italian sausage, crumbled and browned in a bit of olive oil
- Grape tomatoes, halved, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted at 400 F for 15 minutes
- Fresh grape tomatoes, halved
- Marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
- Sauteed broccoli rabe (not pictured)
We made 2 square crusts side by side on a half sheet pan. Putting on the toppings:Veg pie: mozzarella, roasted and fresh grape tomatoes, broccoli rabe, and olives.Meaty pie: mozzarella, spicy sausage, artichoke hearts, olives, grape tomatoes.