I don’t know about you guys, but pizza is just that one meal that I never get sick of. I can eat it for multiple meals or multiple days in a row and never get sick of it! I think in a past life I may have been Italian 😊
Out of all pizzas, classic Margherita is definitely at the top. I love the thin crust, the simple sauce that uses the best tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. I also love the chopped basil over the top; it makes everything taste so fresh and light!
This to me is the perfect summer food; light and fresh and so satisfying! It is the perfect dinner night in, so no ordering out this weekend – try this pizza first!
Makes 2 medium or 1 large pizza
For the pizza dough –
1-1/8 teaspoons active dry yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt (or 1 teaspoon kosher salt)
¾ cup water, 110 degrees Fahrenheit (do not heat to over 120 or it will kill the yeast)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for oiling the bowl and the pizza pan
1-3/4 to 2 cups bread flour, plus more as necessary
For the pizza sauce –
14 ounces diced or whole peeled tomatoes (I used half of a 28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes)
½ teaspoon salt
Drizzle of olive oil
Pinch of red pepper (optional)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, patted dry to remove excess moisture
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil, to finish
Place the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Add sugar and yeast and stir. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes to let the yeast activate.
Add in olive oil, salt, and 1-1/2 cups bread flour. Slowly add more as necessary until the dough forms a solid ball; knead the dough in the stand mixer for 4-5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, continue adding flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is solid. If the dough is too dry, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Grease a large bowl with a little olive oil, add the dough, and then cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough sit in a warm area to double and rise, about 1 hour.
To make the pizza sauce – place tomatoes, salt, olive oil, and red pepper to a blender and blend until mostly smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Drizzle olive oil over a sheet pan or pizza pan (I use aluminum foil on the pan before oiling for minimal cleanup). Press the pizza dough into a thin layer onto the sheet pan (you can use two smaller sheet pans for medium pizzas or one large sheet pan for a large pizza).
Add a thin layer of pizza sauce all over the pizza dough. Top with shredded pieces of mozzarella.
Bake at 475 on the bottom rack of your oven for 5 minutes, then move to top rack of the oven until the edges of the pizza are golden brown and the cheese is golden and bubbly, 6-7 minutes more.
Take the pizza out of the oven. Sprinkle with fresh basil. Let sit for a minute or two to cool and then cut into slices.
Substitutions are as follows – can use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast (can skip step 1 if you do this), honey instead of sugar, and kosher salt instead of table salt (just use half the amount). I would not recommend using all-purpose flour as it will work but would result in chewier crust.
Make sure to add the salt after you activate the yeast; if you add the salt before, it will kill the yeast, which is essential to the pizza dough.
Find the best tomatoes you can for the tomato sauce, since it is so few ingredients. I usually can find some canned San Marzano tomatoes at the store. Strain the tomatoes before blending if you want a thicker sauce! The thinner sauce can also affect the crispiness of the crust, so if you like a crispy crust, be sure to strain the tomatoes before blending.
Fresh mozzarella is essential for a Margherita pizza! If you use the shredded kind you get in a bag, it won’t have the same texture or melt in the same way, so find a ball or thick slices that you can shred.
See the full how-to video here: