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Easy Pizza Crust

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It really is easy. I’ve never had much luck with whole wheat baking, so this marks another instance of my dictum: a little white flour now and then won’t hurt you. Molino Caputo makes a superior flour for the purpose called Tipo 00. The natural (not added) gluten makes the dough stretchy yet strong. Failing that, use King Arthur bread flour.

You can refrigerate the dough in a lightly oiled freezer bag for one day, or wrap it tightly and freeze it for up to one month. Thaw and bring the dough to room temperature before shaping the crust. (Pizza stone users will follow specific baking instructions.)

Some homemade and store-bought toppings to consider: griddled onions or red peppers, pitted kalamata olives, spicy salami, mozzarella, salted ricotta, and Fontina Fontal. Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano is a fine way to top it all off.

8 oz warm water

1 tsp honey or organic whole cane sugar

1 T dry yeast

1 T olive oil

1/2 tsp unrefined sea salt

4 1/2 c Molino Caputo Tipo 00 pizza flour

1. Put the warm (not hot) water in a large bowl. Dissolve the honey or sugar fully, then add the yeast. Let the mixture stand until bubbly, about 5 to 15 minutes.

2. Add the oil, salt, and 4 cups of the flour. Form the mixture into a ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

3. Flour the counter. Turn the dough out and knead it for a full five minutes (or longer) until it is firm, smooth, elastic, and not too sticky.

4. Put dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Rub a bit of oil over the ball and cover it with a cloth. Leave it in a warm, draft-free spot until it has more than doubled in size, about 2 hours. (This is the time to prepare the pizza topping.)

5. When the dough has risen, set the oven to 500°F. Punch it down, divide it in half, and make two smooth balls. (Now you can refrigerate or freeze it.)  Lightly oil the pizza pan. Gently stretch and flatten the dough across the pan to spread it evenly, pressing it down as you go.

6. Dress the pizza with a thin layer of sauce, add the toppings, and bake for about 25 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and pulls away from the edges.

Makes two 12-inch crusts

From The Real Food Cookbook: Traditional Dishes for Modern Cooks

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