Normally I'm the one making pizza from scratch, but this time girlfriend decided to help out and made the crust. She followed a recipe from Italian Cooking: The Definitive Encyclopedia of Fabulous Food by Capalbo, Whiteman, Wright and Boggiano, which is a great cookbook filled with the basics and information about techniques.
The main thing I love about pizza (besides how good it tastes!) is the opportunity to use any leftover veggies from the week's shopping (or the garden) before they go bad. So while girlfriend made the crust, I chopped and sauteed peppers and onions to top the pizza. I also chopped up some deli ham that needed to get finished off or it would likely have ended up in the garbage in the next couple days. Then some fresh mozzarella was shredded and some thin slices of fresh parmesean were shaved off the block.
Here's the recipe for the crust:
Wheat Pizza Crust
1 1/2 Tbsp Active Dried Yeast
1 Cup Lukewarm Water
Pinch of Sugar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Salt
1 1/4 Cups White Flour (We use organic bread flour)
2 Cups Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour
1. Warm a medium mixing bowl by swirling hot water in it, then drain. Place yeast in the bowl and pour in the warm water and sugar. Mix with a fork and allow to stand until yeast has dispersed and starts to foam (about 5-10 minutes).
2. Use a wooden spoon to mix in the olive oil, salt and white flour. Then mix in about half of the wheat flour, stirring with the spoon until the dough begins to form a mass and pull away from the sides of the bowl.
3. Sprinkle some of the remaining dough onto a smooth work surface and knead the dough while working in the remaining flour a little at a time. Knead for 8-10 minutes and then form into a ball.
4. Lightly oil a mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl and place a moist kitchen towel on top of the bowl. Leave it in a warm place to rise for 40-50 minutes. When it has doubled in size punch it back down (to release the air) and then knead for 1-2 minutes.
5. You can divide the dough in two for medium pizzas or leave it for an extra large pizza. Flour a smooth surface and use a rolling pin to roll it to the desired thickness (I usually roll mine out to about 1/4 inch thick). Then place the dough on a lightly oiled pan (We usually skip this and just sprinkle cornmeal on the pan).
That is the end of the book recipe, but here's how I finish mine up!
6. Place pan in oven pre-heated to 500 degrees and pre-bake the crust for about 5 minutes.
7. Remove and top the pizza. Return to oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.
I was pretty happy with this recipe as it makes a solid chewy, but strong crust. At the end of the cooking time be sure to keep an eye on your oven. Some pizzas only need 5 minutes, whereas others really need the full 10.