Homemade Pizza

Yield: 2 (14-inch) pizzas; 16 slices

For starter:
1 3/4 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups white whole-wheat flour (see note)

For sauce:
1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried Italian herb seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 dash ground red (cayenne) pepper

For dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or white whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)

For toppings:
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
10 to 15 pitted Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Prepare starter 2 days before making pizza: Place warm water in small mixing bowl. Stir in yeast; let rest 5 minutes. Gradually add flour, stirring briskly with a fork until incorporated. Cover loosely; let sit at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours, then refrigerate for 1 to 2 days.

Prepare sauce up to 2 days before making pizza: Spoon tomato paste into small mixing bowl. Gradually stir in tomato sauce until mixture reaches the texture of applesauce. You may not need all the tomato sauce. Stir in salt and pepper. Stir together Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne. Gradually add to sauce, stirring briskly to incorporate. Cover and refrigerate.

To prepare dough: Uncover starter and sauce; let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Place a rack in the center of the oven. If you are using a pizza stone, place on the oven rack, then set oven at 450 degrees. (Pizza stones require a long preheating.)

Scrape room-temperature starter into medium bowl. Alternately add whole-purpose or white whole-wheat flour and warm water in three additions, mixing by hand just enough to incorporate ingredients. Avoid overmixing. Dough should be sticky to the touch and a bit drier than bread dough.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead for 5 minutes, then place in a greased bowl, turn to coat dough, cover loosely and let rise for 1 hour.

If not using a pizza stone, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Divide dough in half; shape into balls. Let rest for 15 minutes.

Flatten and stretch each ball into a 14-inch round. If using a pizza stone, prepare one pizza at a time, placing crusts on a bread peel. If not using a stone, place each crust on a perforated pizza pan.

To top and bake pizzas: Taste sauce; adjust seasonings if needed. Spread sauce to within 1/2 inch of the edge of each crust. (You may not use all the sauce.) Top crust with onion, olives, then sprinkle with mozzarella.

Transfer pizzas from bread peel to pizza stone or place pans in oven.

Bake pizzas 10 to 15 minutes, until crust is lightly browned.


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