Cheese Pizza

Infinitely better than delivery, and super easy if you make the dough ahead and refrigerate it.
TIME 2 to 3 hours, mostly unattended
MAKES 2 medium pizzas (4 to 6 servings)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, or more as needed, plus more for kneading
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for sprinkling
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1Put the 3 cups flour, yeast, and salt in a food processor. Turn the machine on and add

1 cup tap water and 2 tablespoons of the oil through the feed tube. Process until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch, about 30 seconds. If the mixture is too dry, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time and process for 5 to 10 seconds after each addition. If the mixture is too sticky, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time and process for 5 to 10 seconds after each addition.

2 Sprinkle ¼ cup flour on a clean work surface. Turn the dough onto the flour and knead just enough times to form a smooth, round dough ball. Grease a large bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Put the dough in the bowl, turn it over once (so that the top is lightly coated with oil), and cover it with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours.

3 Punch down the dough to deflate it, divide it in half, and form it into 2 balls. Put the balls on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest until the balls puff slightly, about 20 minutes. (Now’s a good time to make the tomato sauce if you haven’t already.)

4 Heat the oven to 500°F. Press one of the dough balls into a ½-inch thick flat round, adding more flour to the work surface and the dough as necessary (use only as much flour as you need to keep it from sticking). Repeat with the remaining dough; let the disks sit for a few minutes. Grease 2 baking sheets with enough oil to coat them evenly, put 1 piece of dough on each baking sheet, and gently press each into a thin round or rectangle.

5 Spread the sauce over the pizzas. Sprinkle them with the cheese and some salt and pepper. Put the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 8 to 12 minutes, until the crust is crisp, the cheese melts, and the pies release. Let sit for several minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

  • Individual Pizzas: Divide the dough into 4 or 6 pieces after punching it down in Step 3, press each into a thin round, and divide the ingredients among them.

  • Homemade dough deserves homemade sauce. Period. And making that sauce is so fast you can whip up a batch while the dough rises and still have time for other tasks. If you need a shortcut, drain a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes for several minutes, toss them with 2 tablespoons olive oil and ½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves if you like, and use this mixture instead of the sauce.
  • To cut pizza, rock a chef’s knife back and forth in the same place until you hear the crust snap. A pizza cutter—essentially a sharp wheel tool—is a good investment if you make a lot of pizza. Then all you have to do is firmly press down and roll.
  • If you make pizza often, considering investing in a pizza peel and stone. If you have one, assemble the pizza on the (cornmeal-dusted) peel and slide it directly onto the preheated stone (which can stay in the oven at all times).

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