First, in a large bowl mix together 1.5 teaspoons instant yeast and ½ teaspoon of sugar. Add 1 cup of lukewarm water (44 degrees Celsius) and stir. Set aside and let the yeast activate.
You should start to see the yeast mixture bubbling up and doubling in size after about 10 to 15 minutes.
Combine 1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour (or bread flour) with 1 teaspoon of salt and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
Stir with a whisk or wooden spoon or steel spoon. Add one more cup of flour and keep stirring. It will be thick.
Add the last cup of flour and continue to stir. The dough will start to form and leave the sides of the bowl, but will still be sticky.
Now it’s time to knead the dough by hand until it forms a smooth dough. Dust with flour to prevent sticking as you work. The dough will be soft and elastic, and no longer sticky.
Keep your dough in the deep bowl, and lightly apply a bit of olive oil all around the outside of the dough. This will keep it from sticking to the sides of the bowl once the dough proves and grows. This is what it looks like after an hour.
To make the pizza right away, portion and flatten the dough to a disk. In the below photo, you can see that the dough has leavened well, with stringy strands and many air pockets that will make a chewy crust.
For the sauce, you can choose to either chop the tomatoes (500 grams or 5 to 6 medium tomatoes) and use them fresh to make the sauce, or blanch them first and then add in a blender.
Crush the raw or blanched tomatoes in the blender to make a puree that is as smooth or chunky as you like for this pizza recipe.
Next, in a large sauce pan heat ¼ cup olive oil, and add 2 teaspoons minced garlic. Sauté and stir for some seconds to soften the garlic. Add the tomatoes to the garlic.
Continue stirring and let the tomatoes cook for 5 minutes. Add and stir.
Cover the pan with lid and simmer the tomato sauce on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have softened.
Simmer until the tomatoes have completely cooked and the sauce has thickened. Stir in herbs and crushed black pepper.
Mix the herbs well into the tomatoes. Allow the sauce to cool.
To cook the pizza, preheat the oven. Divide the pizza dough into equals parts to make either 4 small or 2 large or 3 medium size pizzas.
Using clean, dry hands, take one portion of the divided dough and roll it into a neat round ball. Place on a cutting board or countertop that’s been lightly coated with some flour,
Use a rolling pin to roll the dough ball into a large round or oval shape of about ⅛ to ¼ inch thickness. Roll the dough from the center towards the outer edges for the most even pizza dough.
Once stretched to the desired size, gently place the pizza base in the greased baking pan. At this point you can prick the dough with a fork if you want a thinner, crisper crust. This also helps in the crust not puffing up when baking.
Rub the crust with olive oil.
Then, spread the tomato sauce on the pizza in a thin, even layer. Leave about an inch of dough around the outer edge free from sauce for a perfect pizza crust.
Top the sauce with a generous handful or two of shredded mozzarella cheese.
Place your choice of veggies on top of the cheese, making sure to spread the toppings evenly.
Next, add a light layer of grated parmesan cheese to finish the pizza.
Bake the pizza for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven (450°F).
Enjoy your warm and cheesy pizza!