Our Favourite Pizza Crust / by Linda Klimack

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Who doesn't love a good pizza from scratch?? Here's our absolute favourite crust recipe!

1¾ cups warm water
1 Tablespoon dry active yeast    
3½ cups unbleached bread flour* 

½cup corn meal
½ teaspoon salt  
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

*You can also use a blend of 2½ unbleached bread flour and 1 cup whole wheat bread flour.

  • Proof the yeast in ½ cup of warm water (use a tiny pinch of sugar to feed the yeast).
  • In a separate bowl, add the oil to the remaining warm water.
  • Blend the flour, salt and corn meal in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the water/oil mixture and the proofed yeast/water mixture to the dry ingredients.
  • Blend mixture with a spatula until you have a shaggy mass.
  • Knead the dough by hand on a floured counter or in your mixer with a dough hook for about 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on the mixer. This is a large unbalanced load and will shake the heaviest machine.
  • Lightly oil the interior of a bowl large enough for the dough to double in size.
  • Turn the kneaded dough into the oiled bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise until the dough doubles in size, about 1-2 hours.
  • When the dough has completed its first rise, it can be punched down and turned onto a floured counter surface.
  • Cut the dough into 4 or 5 equal pieces and give each a quick knead by hand. 
  • Shape the pieces into balls and arrange them on a cookie sheet to start their second rise. Make sure they are well spaced and covered with a damp tea towel. The second rise should take less time than the first, about 1 hour.
  • If you do not need all 4 or 5 crusts this is a good time to freeze the extras. Take a ziplock sandwich bag and oil the inside with a teaspoon of oil. Put in a ball and make sure the dough is oiled.  Store in the freezer; it will be good for several months. When you want to use it you can defrost it in the fridge overnight and then allow a second rise in a warm spot.  The dough can also be rolled out immediately for use if you are in a hurry.
  • Preheat your oven to 500℉ This should be done at least one hour ahead of baking to ensure the oven walls are hot and not just the interior air. If the walls are not fully heated, the air temperature will plummet when you open the oven door and the recovery time may produce poor baking results. A pizza stone helps but is not necessary.
  • -  When the second rise is complete roll the pizza out on a floured surface turning the dough frequently and dusting with flour liberally to prevent sticking. How thin or thick you roll is up to you.
  • Prepare the baking pan for the crust. We use a light spray of pam and an even sprinkling of corn meal to ensure the baked pizza slips off easily.
  • Transfer your crust to the baking sheet and you are ready for toppings. 
  • You might like to try our appetizer pizza for a start. Oil the pizza crust with extra virgin olive oil using a brush to evenly spread the oil. A nice alternative is to use warmed pesto, although this is a little harder to spread. Sprinkle a layer of grated Parmesan cheese over the oil. Sprinkle a blend of pizza spices over the cheese. Add grated mozzarella spreading it evenly over the surface of the pizza. Top with pieces of drained diced tomatoes. You are now ready to bake.
  • Pop the pizza into the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Try not to open the oven unnecessarily and certainly not for the first 8 minutes. When the pizza is done the crust edges will be dark golden brown and the mozzarella will be melted and browned slightly.
  • Take the pizza out of the oven and slide it from the pan to a suitable cutting surface such as a wood or bamboo bread board. Allow the pizza to firm upfor a few minutes and then slice and serve.