Lacking a commercial pizza oven, I have found that the best results are achieved at home by first partially baking the crust uncovered. Just before serving, the toppings are added and the pizza is baked in a hot oven until the crust is crisp and golden. This method also significantly reduces the last-minute preparation time and simplifies the task of making pizza for a crowd.

For two fairly large crusts:

  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 2 cups semolina
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. grated parmesan

Add yeast and sugar to 1/2 cup lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl and stir to dissolve. Allow mixture to react for about 5 minutes, until surface appears creamy. Stir in 1 1/2 cups semolina, 1 1/2 cups white flour, salt, parmesan, 2 tbsp. olive oil, and 1 cup water. Mix with a wooden spoon, adding enough additional white flour to form a ball. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead, either by hand or in an electric mixer with a dough hook, until it is smooth and elastic, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. Wash and dry the bowl and coat the inside with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Place the ball of dough at the bottom of the bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise for at least 1 1/2 hours, until the dough has doubled in volume. (It can then be refrigerated in a sealed plastic bag for several days.)

Preheat oven to 400° F. Punch down the dough, cut in half, and roll each half out into a disk, as thin as possible, sprinkling with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Sprinkle some semolina over two large perforated pizza pans. Place crusts in the pans, brush with the remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil, and allow to rise for 10 minutes. Bake for 5 minutes, pop and deflate any bubbles with a knife, and continue baking for a few minutes until the crusts are dried out and just beginning to brown. Wrap in plastic until you're ready ready to use them.

Suggested toppings:

  • Tomatoes, roasted garlic, mozzarella, chevre, and basil
  • Roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, capers, fontina, and herbs
  • Olives, anchovies, caramelized onions, and pine nuts
  • Spinach, garlic, tomatoes, and assorted cheeses