adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
For the dough:
- 3¼ cups (16 1/4 oz.) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (2 3/4 oz.) yellow cornmeal
- 1½ tsp table salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2¼ tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1¼ cups water (10 oz.), room temperature
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter , melted, plus 4 tablespoons, softened
- 1 tsp plus 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- ¼ cup grated onion , from 1 medium onion (see note below)
- ¼ tsp dried oregano
- Table salt
- 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
- ¼ tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Ground black pepper
- 1 pound whole-milk or part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 4 cups) (see note below)
- ½ ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup)
- Hot or mild Italian sausage, casings removed (optional)
FOR THE DOUGH:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar and yeast together on low until incorporated — about 1 minute. Use the dough hook attachment. Add the water and melted butter and mix on low speed until fully combined, about 1-2 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is glossy and smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Keep in mind the dough will only pull away from the sides while the mixer is on, and will fall back to the sides when the mixer is off.
- Coat a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, using your fingers. Rub any excess oil from fingers onto the blade of a rubber spatula and transfer the dough to a bowl, turning once to oil the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until it’s nearly doubled in size, about 45-75 minutes.
FOR THE SAUCE:
- Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Then add the onion, oregano, crushed red pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cooking and stirring occasionally until liquid has evaporated and onion is golden brown — about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant — about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and sugar, increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue simmering until the sauce has reduced to 2 1/2 cups, about 35-30 minutes. Remove the sauce from the stove and stir in basil and oil. Season with salt and pepper, taste and adjust as needed.
TO LAMINATE THE DOUGH:
- Heat your oven to 425 degrees, and put the oven rack on the lowest position. With a rubber spatula, turn the dough out onto a dry work surface and roll it into a 15 by 12-inch rectangle. Using an offset spatula, spread the softened butter over the dough but leave a 1/2-inch border along the edges. Starting at either short end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder (like you would cinnamon rolls). With seam side down, flatten the cylinder into a 18 by 4-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle in half, crosswise. Take one half and fold into thirds (like a business letter), pinching the seams together to form a ball. Repeat with the other half. Place both dough balls into an oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough balls rise in the refrigerator until doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes.
- Oil two 9-inch round cake pans with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil each. Place 1 dough ball on a dry work surface and roll out into a 13-inch disk, about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer dough to the pan by rolling it loosely around the rolling pin and unrolling it into the pan. Press the dough into the pan lightly, working into the corners and up the sides by 1-inch. If the dough is tough to work with, let it relax about 5 to 10 minutes before trying again. Repeat with the other dough half.
- Sprinkle 2 cups of mozzarella over the surface of the dough for each pizza. If using sausage or any topping, scatter it evenly on top of the cheese. Spread about 1 1/4 cups of tomato sauce over the cheese and toppings, then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of parmesan over the sauce. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 25-35 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven to rest for about 15 minutes.
- Slice, serve and enjoy!
Note: Place a damp kitchen towel under the mixer and watch it at all times during kneading to prevent it from wobbling off the counter. If you don’t have a stand-mixer, you can do this by hand. Handle the dough with slightly oiled hands, or it might stick. Avoid pre-shredded cheese, it doesn’t melt well. Grate the onion on the large holes of a box grater.