For the Pizza Dough:
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the Pizza Toppings:
- 1 cup homemade or store-bought pizza sauce
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- Fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Prepare the Pizza Dough:
- In a bowl, combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes frothy.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the center and add the activated yeast mixture and olive oil. Mix until the dough comes together.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5-7 minutes or until it becomes smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until it doubles in size.
2. Preheat the Oven:
- Preheat your oven to the highest temperature it can go, typically around 475-500°F (245-260°C). If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven while preheating.
3. Shape the Pizza:
- Punch down the risen dough and divide it into two equal portions. Roll out each portion on a floured surface to your desired thickness.
- If using a pizza stone, transfer the rolled-out dough to a pizza peel or an inverted baking sheet dusted with flour or cornmeal.
4. Assemble the Pizza:
- Spread a thin layer of pizza sauce evenly over the dough, leaving a small border around the edges.
- Arrange slices of fresh mozzarella over the sauce.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Bake the Pizza:
- If using a pizza stone, carefully transfer the pizza from the peel to the preheated stone in the oven. If not using a stone, place the prepared pizza on a baking sheet.
- Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
6. Finish and Serve:
- Remove the pizza from the oven and immediately scatter fresh basil leaves over the hot pizza.
- Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.
- Slice and serve your delicious Italian Margherita Pizza immediately.
Cooking Time: Approximately 10-12 minutes.
Serving Size: This recipe makes two medium-sized pizzas, serving about 4-6 people depending on the size of the slices. Adjust quantities accordingly for your needs.