I have no doubt that my baking technique will leave practiced pizza makers aghast, but hey, I'm working without a peel and have a finicky oven. Also, I can't seem to find the pictures documenting this venture except for one post-baked and sliced. Will add more the next time pizza is made.
Basic Pizza Dough
3 cups flour (a finer ground flour will give you a stretchier dough, but all-purpose works just fine.) If you are adding wine or beer, add 1/2 cup flour per 1/4 cup liquid.
1 cup warm water
1 packet dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar/honey
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup wine or beer (optional) (Again, if you are adding extra liquid to the recipe, you will need to add more flour.)
Makes 3 12 inch crusts.
Add the yeast to the warm water, mix in the sugar and 1Tbs oil and let sit for 5 minutes. Pour the liquid (and any beer or wine you are using) into a large bowl along with half the flour. Since I don't mix or knead with a food processor, I usually make a basic sponge and let it sit for about 10-20 minutes before working in the rest of the flour. To do this, once you have your liquids incorporated into half the flour, stir the mixture vigorously in one direction for about 1-2 minutes. This will develop the gluten and give the crust some springiness that I find makes it easier to work with when forming the crusts. Alternatively, you can simply add all the liquid to all the flour and mix throughly to form the dough. If using the sponge method, add a little bit of flour at a time after the sponge has had time to sit and incorporate to form the dough.
Aim for a dough that is slightly moist. If your dough is crumbly, add water. If it is sticky, add flour. When adding extra flour or water, do so 1 Tbs at a time.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes or until it has lost a bit of its springiness. I usually test by pushing two fingers into the dough and seeing how quickly it springs back. I prefer my pizza dough to have more plasticity than bread dough, but not so much that it will be frustrating to form the crusts. Form the dough into a ball. Once you are done kneading, coat a large bowl with the remaining oil and turn the dough in the bowl, covering it evenly with oil. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours.
You can punch down the dough and let it have a second rise, or form the crusts after a single rise. Form the dough into a cylinder and cut into 3 equal pieces (if you added extra liquid and flour, you may find that the recipe is better suited to making 4 10inch crusts.) Cover the pieces and let sit for about 10 minutes. This short rise usually makes the dough easier to work with. Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees.
Roll, pull, or toss the dough to shape. work on a lightly floured surface so that you may easily transfer the dough to a peel or sheet and then into the oven. Aim for a crust that is about 1/8 thick. Even thickness is the goal. Lightly oil the formed crust, transfer it to a peel or sheet, top and toss it in the oven for 12-15 minutes.
Notes on baking
A hotter oven gives you a nice, crisp crust, but you may find that the pizza is a bit squishy in the middle depending on what your toppings are. Since I don't have a pizza peel, I've found that transferring a fully topped pizza to the oven results in me cursing a lot and winding up with burns. So, I sometimes will bake the crust on its own for 5-7 minutes at a lower temperature (450), take it out of the oven, top and then bake at 500 for 5-7 minutes. I'll report back on how things work when I get my peel.