Spinning this off from whichever trainwreck of ours this started from...
So, I like pizza. I like making it, and I think if you're going to make it, you pretty much need to make your own dough. It takes some foresight and while it can be done by hand a decent stand mixer certainly makes it easier, but all in all it's not THAT hard, and the results are worth it.
The recipe I use is from http://www.amazon.com/The-Bread-Bake.../dp/1580082688 which is awesome and if you're into bread you should buy it.
I was also half in the bag when I made the dough - part of the problem with these pictures is my camera is just not that good in low light situations, but part of it too to be fair was that I probably was a little unsteady myself.
4 1/2 cups (20.25 oz) unbleached high gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour
1 3/4 (0.44 oz) tsp salt
1 tsp instant (or "bread machine," NOT "rapid rise") yeast
1/4 cup (2 oz) olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups (14 oz) water, ice cold
selmolina or cornmeal for dusting
Combine flour, salt, and yeast in your mixing bowl, and stir together.
If you're using high gluten/bread flour, add the 1/4 cup of olive oil to tenderize; if not, it can be omitted. Note the vibrant green color - this olive oil is WAY too nice to be baking with, but I'm afraid I'd run out of everything else. Oh well.
Add water while mixing. Mix on a medium setting 5-7 minutes to create a smooth, sticky dough; it should clear the sides but not the bottom of the bowl.
The finished dough:
Transfer the dough to a floured surface, and cut into three equal pieces (the recipe calls for six, but that will give you a 9" or so pizza; this is a more practical size, I think, as it's a bit bigger; maybe 12-14"). Shape each piece into a ball, then mist the dough with oil (I didn't bother - more on that later) and transfer into a food grade bag. Toss into your fridge, at least overnight and for up to three days.
The next day, at least two hours (i went with about 3) before you plan on baking, remove as many bags as you plan on making pizzas from the fridge. I initially was going to do one, decided to do a second at the last minute, and as it happened a friend in the neighborhood dropped by so it worked out perfectly. I didn't bother to mist the dough with olive oil, as I'd mentioned - it WILL stick to the bag a bit (I was just using ziplock bags), but in a pinch you can just cut the bag open and remove it easily enough. Whatever works,
Of course, by now it's well past lunch (which I skipped, as I had a late brunch) so you need something to snack on while you cook - sopresetta from the neighborhood Badass Italian Specialty Store, the last half of my last batch of homemade baguettes, and a Laguinitas Night Time Black Ale:
...and cooking without tunes is criminal. Technically speaking, this should have been a Periphery album since Misha was one of the guys who wanted me to post a recipe, but they're just not as good cooking mysic as the Stones. Idunno, I guess I'm just not that metal.
After two hours, the dough should have risen fairly significantly - these have probably almost doubled. About 45 minutes before you plan on baking, place your pizza stone in the oven (I just leave mine there) and preheat as high as you can get your oven - in my case, 550 degrees.
I'd decided I wanted to do italian sausage, ricotta, and banana peppers. I ended up doing italian sausage and banana pepper simply because I forgot the ricotta and left it in the fridge - oops! So, I de-cased a link of awesome hand-made sausage from that same Badass Italian Specialty Foods Shop (seriously, the guy who owns it is even a big music nut - he's playing blues every time I'm in there), broke it up in a saute pan with the side of a wooden spatula, and browned it to sprinkle on top.
I also make my own sauce - this was pretty simple, just a large can of crushed tomatoes, one or two cloves of crushed garlic, basil, oregano (usually I just add basil if this is going to be for pasta, and while we're at it usually I'll use diced tomatoes rather than crushed, but the first can I grabbed happened to be crushed and oregano just seems to work in pizza), crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Here I am tasting:
I also tossed in the last of the pasta sauce I'd made a couple days prior with similar ingredients but diced tomatoes, so you'll see a few tomato chunks in subsequent pictures. Waste not, want not.
Once all your ingredients are ready to go, stretch out your crusts.
First, put down a sheet of parchment paper for each pizza, and lightly dust with cornmeal. This will be how you transfer the pizza into the oven.
For the actual stretching, I've seen some people advocate doing this with a rolling pin - I don't recommend this, as part of what you're doing with all the rising is letting air bubbles form in the crust. Rolling it out undoes all that. I've never really gotten the hang of hand-tossing crusts, so I generally do what my buddy the pro chef does - a combination of resting it on your knuckles of your hands, formed into fists, held closely together, and kind of stretching it by pulling your hands apart gently, over and over, and also by holding it by the edge of the crust in two pieces, pulling apart ever so gently, but mostly just letting the dough stretch under its own weight, and just sort of rotating the dough to get it to stretch evenly. Get it approximately into a circular shape about the size of a pizza, and then lay it down on the cornmeal-dusted parchment paper and sort of fine-tune the shape pulling it around by hand a bit. Don't worry about "shaping" a crust - that will happen naturally as it bakes. Then, cover with sauce, spreading it in a circular motion with the back of the spoon.
Top however you see fit - in my case, that's shredded mozarella, banana peppers, and crumbled sausage, plus a little grated parmesan. Right about now would have been a VERY good time to remember that ricotta. In my friend's case, that was a cheese-free veggie pizza with arugula, sliced red pepper, and zucchini.
When finished, using a pizza peel or the back of a cookie sheet, slide the pizza (on its parchment paper backing) onto the hot pizza stone in the oven. Let cook, at extremely hot temperatures, for a short period of time - seven or eight minutes is probably enough at 550. Pro wood fired places can often get away in three minutes or less, at like 900 degrees. I'm pretty jealous.
A picture of the pizza in the oven - the raised crust sort of just "happens" naturally - the yeast in the dough, before dying, goes into overdrive and the bread rises rapidly (the "oven spring," as it's called). The toppings hold it down in the center, but the un-topped very edge of the pizza sort of pillows up, giving you a crust. Science!
Using either a pizza peel, as I do here, or a spatula to slide the pizza back onto the back of a backing sheet, remove the pizza from the oven, and close the door to give it a minute or two to return to temperature before starting your second pizza (and third, fourth, etc, if you're doing more).
That about does it. The finished pizza's - first, my friend's veggie pizza - crust came out awesome on this:
My sausage and hot pepper pizza:
...and a close-up of the texture of the crust, after cutting into it, with the light, bubbly crumb. The 12-24 hours of fermentation in the oven makes a HUGE difference in the texture here - I've made this recipe and immediately let one crust rise and then done the rest in the fridge in subsequent days, and the difference in both the look (both the outside and inside) and taste of the crust was pretty shocking. It takes some forethought, but is definitely worth the wait.
....also, I don't seem to have taken a good picture of the finished pizza as a whole, so here's one I snapped on my iphone the next night, when I made the same thing with the third bag of dough:
No fire, no care.