2tablespoonsdried italian seasoning blendsubstitute 2 tablespoons of your favorite dried herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder
Make the dough
Dissolve the sugar, yeast and salt in the lukewarm water. Mix it well, then leave it be for about 3 minutes to let the yeast “bloom.”
Measure the flour, olive oil and seasonings into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and water mixture. Mix up with your hands until you form a nice shaggy dough.
From here, you can transfer to a mixer fitted with a dough hook or a bread machine set to the dough cycle and knead for 7 to 10 minutes. My preferred method is to keep it simple and knead the dough with your hands, using your knuckles to incorporate all of the flour into the wet mixture. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold the dough in on itself. Add more flour if necessary, a tablespoon at a time. The dough is ready when it is smooth and elastic, with no dry spots.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Rub some EVOO on top to keep the dough moist. Drape a thin cotton cloth loosely over the top of the bowl. This prevents outside contamination while the dough rises. Allow the dough to rise for a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 2 hours.
To deflate the dough, punch it down gently. Transfer to a large wooden board and cut the dough ball into four pieces. Cover lightly with the thin cotton cloth and allow it to rest another twenty minutes for best results (if you are short on time you can skip this part). If you are not planning on using all four dough portions at this moment, now is the time to properly store the dough. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for later use.
Make your pizza
Time to shape the dough! Here’s the fun part. Shape the dough however you like. I prefer using my hands, tossing the dough and rotating it so that gravity does most of the work for me. You are also welcome to use a rolling pin if that is more comfortable. I encourage you to experiment and see what you like best. Remember: your pizza doesn’t have to be a perfect circle — nor should it be!
Sprinkle cornmeal on your desired pizza cooking surface. If it’s going into a woodfired oven, use a copious amount of cornmeal (like almost too much) on the pizza peel for easy transfer into the oven. If you are using pizza pans in the oven, not as much cornmeal is necessary. Lastly, if you are simply using a baking sheet, a piece of parchment will work just fine to protect your pan and the pizza.
If you are using a WOOD-FIRED PIZZA OVEN: Prep the oven, get it up to temp. Shape the dough, then transfer onto a pizza peel with a lot of cornmeal. Add your sauce, cheese and any desired toppings. Cook the pizza for 3-5 minutes, turning frequently and keeping an eye on the temperature.If you are using a CONVENTIONAL OVEN: Heat the oven to 450 degrees. If you are using a pizza stone, place it in the oven before turning the oven on. Shape the pizzas and place them on the pizza pans or on your baking sheets. Brush lightly with olive oil. Send the pizzas into the oven for a little prebake, about 7 minutes. Remove the pizzas from the oven, and place on a heat resistant surface. Deflate any air bubbles that may have risen. Add your sauce, cheese and any desired toppings. Place the pizza back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so, checking for desired doneness.
Transfer the pizzas to a large wood cutting board or other stable cutting surface. I don’t recommend slicing directly on the pizza peels or pans, as this causes much wear and tear. Use a rotary slicer, big pizza cutter or a pair of scissors to cut your pizza.