New York-Style Pizza
15 ounces (or 3 cups) bread flour
1 cup water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a stand mixer (KitchenAid) fitted with dough hook (or food processor), add the water and yeast. Mix thoroughly until yeast has fully dissolved. Add flour and salt. Mix on low until most of the flour and water have mixed, then continue kneading for 5 minutes (in a food processor, mixing and kneading should only take about 30 seconds total.) The dough will be loose and scrappy at first and will quickly form a moist, smooth cohesive ball. Place dough in a large greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until double in size, about 1 hour. Punch down the dough and knead briefly. Cover and allow to rise an additional 1/2 hour.
While the dough is rising, preheat your oven (with pizza stone) to 500 °F.
Process the tomatoes through a tomato strainer (or potato ricer with a fine mesh) or simply puree the tomatoes in a blender. The use of a strainer (or ricer) removes the tomato seeds and remaining skin. Pour into a saucepan and add remaining ingredients. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes (do not allow the sauce to boil).
After the last rising, turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Press the dough into a flat, round disc. Place the dough over your fists and begin stretching it into a large circle (don’t stretch it so big that it won’t fit on your pizza peel!) Place the dough on a pizza peel which was been dusted with cornmeal. Add your sauce and toppings (perform this step rather quickly so that the dough will not have time to stick to the peel). Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a large wire cooling rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
TIP: A pizza peel is a bit tricky to use at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it! First, it is important to have a good dusting of cornmeal on the peel which keeps the dough from sticking and greatly helps the pizza in sliding off. Before you attempt to transfer the pizza into the oven, hold the peel level and in front of you. Quickly jerk the peel back and forth a few times to loosen the pizza; you’ll see the pizza start to slide around a bit. Once it is loose and you are confident that it is not sticking to the peel, place the peel at the very back of the oven, hold the handle at an upward angle, and make a series of short, quick backwards jerks letting the pizza slide off and onto the pizza stone. Some people forget to loosen the pizza and, even worse, try to make one huge backwards jerk to get the pizza off. This usually results in a huge mess.
Note: If you don’t have a pizza peel, use the back of a heavy cookie sheet to place the dough on. Bake the pizza for about 5 minutes and then slide it off to the oven shelf. Or just bake it on the cookie sheet. You’ll get a crisper crust if you bake it on the oven shelf.