For the Pizza Dough:
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water (about 110°F or 43°C)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the Pizza Sauce:
- 1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- Fresh basil leaves
- Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Prepare the Pizza Dough:
- In a small bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes frothy.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Gradually add the yeast mixture and olive oil.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5-7 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a damp cloth or plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place for about 1-2 hours or until it doubles in size.
2. Make the Pizza Sauce:
- Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add crushed tomatoes and dried oregano. Simmer the sauce for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Preheat the Oven:
- Preheat your oven to the highest temperature it can go, usually around 500°F (260°C). If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven while preheating.
4. Shape the Pizza:
- Punch down the risen dough and divide it into two equal portions. Roll out each portion on a floured surface into a 12-inch circle (for thin crust) or your desired thickness.
- Carefully transfer the dough to a pizza peel or an inverted baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. This will make it easier to slide the pizza into the hot oven.
5. Assemble the Pizza:
- Spread a thin layer of the homemade pizza sauce over the dough, leaving a small border for the crust.
- Arrange slices of fresh mozzarella cheese evenly over the sauce.
- Tear fresh basil leaves and scatter them on top of the cheese.
- Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the pizza.
6. Bake the Pizza:
- If you’re using a pizza stone, carefully slide the pizza onto the hot stone in the oven. Otherwise, place the baking sheet with the pizza directly in the oven.
- Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.
7. Finish and Serve:
- Remove the pizza from the oven and let it cool for a minute. Optionally, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and extra fresh basil leaves.
- Slice and serve your homemade Margherita pizza hot and enjoy!
This classic Margherita pizza is a delightful combination of simple, fresh ingredients that create a burst of flavors in every bite. Feel free to customize it with additional toppings of your choice, such as sliced tomatoes, olives, or even pepperoni if you prefer a meaty option. Happy pizza-making!