1 cup wrist-temperature water (105-115 degrees)
1 package (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
A tsp. of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt (Kosher or Sea Salt)
1-2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus extra for the bowl)
2.5-3.0 cups Unbleached, Pre-Sifted All Purpose Flour (1/4 cup may be Wholewheat or Rye)
Extra flour for kneading-sometimes called “bench flour”
By hand method
Place the water in a medium-large bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast and sugar, and stir to dissolve. Let it stand 7-10 minutes, or until the mixture begins to bubble.
Stir in 1 cup of flour and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Beat for several minutes with a wooden spoon.
Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the salt last, as to not kill the active yeast. The dough will be soft and should not be very sticky.
Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead for several minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, cover
with plastic wrap or towel, and let the dough rise until doubled in bulk. This will take about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough, and return it to the floured surface. Make your Pizza or freeze the dough for future use.
Stand up Mixer Method
Follow directions in the “by hand method” section, but use a dough hook, and keep the mixer on a low speed until all ingredients are incorporated. It is important to gradually add the flour and not dump all of it in the bowl at once. Once incorporated, let the dough hook knead the dough for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, you can prepare the Pizza Sauce (see below)–it kicks major Donkey! 🙂
Another brief piece of wisdom: Do not knead the dough for a long period of time–over 5 minutes–because you’ll overdevelop the gluten in the flour, thus making your dough very tough. Rubber pizza is not a good thing! Just ask Martha Stewart! 🙂
EVAN J. PIZZA SAUCE
ARE YOU HUNGRY? I ASKED, “ARE YOU HUNGRY?”
IT’S TIME TO START YOUR ENGINES (NOT LITERALLY, WE’RE COOKING…)
1-2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium Sweet Onion diced
3-4 Garlic cloves crushed
28 ounces (2 typical cans) of Italian canned tomatoes
Optional: 1 tsp. of sugar
2 TBS of Tomato Paste (if you want to thicken the sauce)
1-2 TBS Port Wine
1-2 TBS Pale Dry Sherry
1 scant handful of Fresh Basil
OPTIONAL Italian-based herbs: Oregano and Parsley (Fresh is best)
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
Place the Olive Oil in a 2 or 3-Quart sauce pan. “Sweat” the onions over medium heat for 5 minutes (do not brown or carmelize) . Add a pinch of salt to the onions. Add the garlic and sweat for about 3 minutes (do not burn Garlic because it will become bitter and ruin the sauce). Add the canned tomatoes and crush with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Stir in the paste, optional sugar, Sherry, and Port. Adding sugar will help balance out all of the acid (tomatoes and wines). Do not use sugar substitutes as they tend to add an aftertaste to the sauce. After making your final decision about the sugar, then turn down the heat to low and simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Stir the sauce every few minutes to incorporate all ingredients and prevent burning. Roughly tear or chiffonade the Basil, and put into the sauce. Add other fresh herbs if desired, and finish with Salt and fresh ground Black Pepper to taste. If you use dried herbs, the flavor is more concentrated. Use this ratio as a guide: 1 TBS of fresh herbs to 1 teaspoon of dried herbs. Finally, some people prefer their sauce to be very loose, unlike a Bolognese or Marinara, which tends to be thicker. If looseness is desired, put sauce in a food processor, and pulse about 3 times at 5-second intervals. ENJOY!