First you need to get things ready.
- Bring the yeast, flour and sugar to room temperature.
- Pour half a cup of lukewarm water into a large mixing bowl (hot water will kill the yeast).
- Add 1 teaspoon of yeast to the warm water. It is possible to use instant yeast or active yeast.
- Add 1 teaspoon of raw sugar or maple syrup, do not use refined white sugar.
- Gently stir the mixture and then let it rest for 10 to 12 minutes.
- The mixture will become frothy and bubbly. If it doesn’t, then it means the yeast is inactive and you need to start again.
Making Pizza Dough
Now we will start preparing the pizza base.
- When the mixture is frothy, add 300g (2.5 cups) of flour, 1/3 teaspoon salt, and 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil to the mixing bowl.
- Mix everything together to form a dough. You are likely to need a bit more water, so add it a bit at a time until you have a smooth and soft non-sticky dough. If the dough is sticky, then you can sprinkle some flour in.
- Knead your dough for 5 minutes. You should use the heel of your hand to press the dough down against the countertop and then roll it across before folding it. Keep repeating this process. After 5 minutes, the dough should be soft and when you poke it, it should dent and then slowly regain its original shape.
- Next, you should shape the dough into a ball shape and add a thin layer of oil so that it doesn’t dry. You should also grease your bowl with some oil.
- Cover the bowl with a wet napkin or lid and let it rest at room temperature until the dough has risen enough to double in size. This can take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours depending on the room temperature.
Making Pizza Sauce
While the dough rises, you can start preparing the sauce.
- Puree 400g to 500g of tomatoes.
- Heat 1.5 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add 2 chopped garlic cloves. Fry the garlic for a minute and then add a teaspoon of red chilli flakes.
- Add the tomato puree to the pan together with 0.25 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir carefully.
- Partially cover the pot and allow it to simmer until it has reduced to a thick consistency.
- Once the sauce has thickened, add a teaspoon of Italian herbs and 0.5 teaspoons of crushed pepper.
- Allow the sauce to completely cool.
Prepare the Toppings
Now you can start preparing your toppings. This means that you should grate the cheese and cut up any vegetables that you want to place on top of the pizza (mushrooms, onions, etc.) Be sure to keep the vegetables at room temperature so that they don’t let moisture out onto the pizza, which would make it soggy.
Making Thin Crust Pizza
Now all of the components are ready, it is time to begin assembling your pizza.
- Transfer your dough to a work surface and squash it to remove the air bubbles.
- Split the dough into two or three equal parts, depending on the size of the pizzas you want to make.
- Knead the dough a bit and shape it into round balls. If it is sticky, then sprinkle some flour on it and knead.
- When the dough is ready to be stretched, preheat your oven to 240C (470F). Place a baking tray or a cast iron pan in the middle and allow it to heat in the oven.
- Sprinkle some cornmeal onto the tray, place a dough ball on the tray and flatten it. Add a little bit of oil.
- Spread and stretch the dough across the tray with your fingers. It is likely to be around 9 inches. Ideally, the edges should be slightly thicker than the centre. It is best to avoid a rolling pin and this can remove air bubbles which results in a dense pizza base.
- Spread the pizza sauce across the dough.
- Add layers of grated cheese and your other toppings together with any herbs you enjoy.
- Transfer the pizza tray to the oven placing it over the hot baking tray.
- Allow the pizza to bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the crust has become golden and crisp.
- Slice the pizza and enjoy!
Here are a few more tips to ensure your pizza turns out perfectly every time.
- Always activate yeast before adding it to flour. Usually instant yeast is added directly to flour; however, by activating it first it will save your flour in case the yeast is dead.
- Avoid using too much yeast. Many believe that using less yeast is the secret to great pizza dough. It will take a little longer for the yeast to work, but the flavours make the wait worthwhile.
- Let the dough rise slowly at room temperature. Don’t be tempted to rise it faster at a higher temperature. Furthermore, don’t judge it by time, judge it by volume. Let is rise until it has doubled.