|Here's my well-used pizza dough recipe (I've made four pizzas this week already).|
flour (approx. 3 cups)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 packet fast-rising yeast
1 cup water at 120-130F (use a thermometer; your hot water tap should probably be able to give you water this hot)
2 tsp. olive oil
For the yeast use lukewarm water (75-80 degrees F). Too hot and you'll kill the yeast, too cold and the yeast won't activate. If anything, err towards the cooler side - the slower it rises, the better...)
Stir yeast and sugar into water, let sit for 8 minutes or so. It should become slightly foamy with a familiar "yeast" odor. No foam after 6 or so minutes and the yeast was bad or your water wrong temperature. I haven't had a yeast problem yet.
Blend the yeast with two cups of flour and the salt. Add the water and the oil and mix to form a dough. Add more flour as necessary until you can knead the dough. Knead for about 6 minutes (I use my KitchenAid).
Put the dough in a bowl and allow to rise for about 45 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400F and prepare your toppings.
Split the dough into two pieces and roll into two medium size pizzas. In the U.S., you can use bread flour to make the pizzas. If so, the dough should be strong enough to handle spinning in the air. For that to work, though, *do not knead the dough (or punch down) after it has risen!* If you want to spin, it'll probably go easier if you just resort to using all the dough for one large pizza.
If you're rolling the dough, ideally you can roll it out on parchment paper, which can go directly into the oven with the pizza. Why not do it on a cookie sheet? Well, the secret of a good pizza crust (particularly a thin one) is that the pizza should bake directly on a hot surface. I have lined my oven with quarry tiles, and I bake my pizzas directly on that. A pizza stone can be had at a cooking store, or you might try baking directly on the floor of your oven. If you try to bake on a cookie sheet that you slide into the oven with the pizza on it, I think you'll find yourself frustrated in the quest of good crusty pizza.
So, after rolling out and preparing your pizza on top of parchment paper, slide the paper (with the pizza on it) onto a large cutting board held level with the counter. Then open the oven and gently shake the cutting board so that the pizza and the paper slide right off. Don't be scared, it works!
If you don't have parchment paper... Well, in the U.S., parchment paper can be hard to find in some areas (why, I don't know -- it's the most useful baking tool I have). So, in this case, roll out (or spin) your pizza dough and then place it on a cutting board **liberally** dusted with cornmeal. Put the toppings on the pizza and then do the same sliding trick before (although it's good to check, just beforehand, that the pizza doesn't seem stuck anywhere to the board). I've made a lot of pizzas this way, too, and though it's not quite so easy to get the pizza from the board to the oven as with parchment paper, it certainly works (again, don't be scared!).
Finally, bake the pizza from anywhere between 12-18 minutes. The dough will be hard, so you won't have any trouble pulling the pizza out of the oven with a pot holder onto a cutting board.
And if you have a pizza peel instead of a cutting board, use that!