There’s nothing like the feeling of using your hands to make something that you know will be thoroughly enjoyed later. This recipe comes from Carlo Polpini, a friend of my father’s who was a famous pizza maker in Florence. It’s simple, easy to follow, and works wonderfully, and I’ve been using it ever since I started making pizzas with my father when I was a child. During the rising process, be sure not to let the dough rise too much, otherwise the top will get a little dry and crusty. Kids like to help make this.
- 1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 4 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the yeast, lukewarm water, and a 1/2 cup of the bread flour. Mix well and let it sit for 30 minutes, or until bubbly, like foamy beer.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 1/2 cups bread flour and the salt until evenly combined.
- Add 3/4 cup cold water and the olive oil to the yeast mixture. Turn on the mixer and begin adding the flour mixture in increments, then mix for 5 minutes, until the dough starts creeping up the dough hook and detaching from the sides of the bowl.
- Grease a large bowl with some oil and transfer the dough to the bowl. Turn the dough to coat its surface with oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a tea towel. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punch the dough down, then let it rise another 1 hour.
- Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and form into discs. On a work surface lightly dusted with flour, use your fingers or the heel of your hand (and a rolling pin, if you prefer) to stretch the discs until they’re 13 inches in diameter. The disc should be very thin, less than 1/8 inch.
IMPORTANTE! If you’re making pizza within the hour after forming the pizza dough discs, they can be kept at room temperature. Otherwise, place them on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 12 hours before baking, as long as the dough doesn’t rise too much. Ideally, though, you should make the pizzas the same day you make the dough.