The standard Thursday-night pizza recipe, for four 180-200g bases. 5 minutes prep plus 45 minutes machine-mixing and eight hours (or longer) proving for the dough, followed by 15 minutes rolling, 30 minutes additional proving in a warm oven, 5 minutes decorating and 10 minutes cooking. It might seem like a lot of processes, but our eldest has been making pizzas this way since the age of ten or so, so it's easy enough to do. This is made in a bread machine, so ingredients (including water, which is 1 gram per millilitre anyway) are weighed directly into the mixing bowl, with the scales set to zero after each ingredient. Note that flours differ in their absorption of water - this recipe assumes a roughly 5:3 flour/liquid ratio, but some flours (especially if you go for wholemeal) may require less water, so you may need to adjust (simply add a bit more flour and knead if the dough is too sticky). You should end up with a dough that's easy to roll and stretch, but not so loose that it gets holes in all the time.
2-3g easy-bake yeast
500g Italian Tipo 00 or strong white bread flour
4 oiled pizza trays
Tomato and basil passata, or pizza sauce, e.g. Cirio, or Mutti if you've got money to burn
Other toppings of choice - mozarella (grated or fresh), red onion, olives, peperoni, etc
Add the first four ingredients, in the order above, to the bread machine's mixing bowl
Set to the "pizza" or a quick dough setting, for an approximately 45 minute mix, and start the programme. Alternatively, mix and knead by hand for at least 15 minutes
Once finished, remove from the machine, flour lightly and put into a plastic bag. Place in a cold room or the bottom of the fridge and let prove for at least eight hours.
Preheat a fan oven to around 50°C. Most aren't marked this low, but you can still find somewhere inbetween "off" and its minimum setting, which is warm but not hot
Remove the dough from the fridge about an hour before prep time and allow to come to room temperature. Split into 4 portions, of about 180-220 grams each, depending upon size or thickness preference (it's possible to go as low as 150g if you like them really thin or are on something like Slimming World)
Sprinkle plenty of flour over your rolling area
Shape each blob into as round a ball as you can - tuck the edges under as you turn the dough blob quickly around with a circlular motion
Roll out to a disc about two thirds the diameter of the pizza tray - keep turning by eights of a turn as you roll, to ensure a round shape of even thickness
Pick up the dough disc, lay it in the palm of an upturned hand with the fingers held up slightly, then twist quickly as you fling the disc up in the air. Catch with your hand flat and repeat a few times until the dough has stretched out
If you don't fancy doing the "pizzaola spin" - it is a bit tricky at first - simply continue rolling until the dough is the same size as the pizza tray. You won't get quite the same crusts, as the spinning pushes the dough out to the edges much more than rolling, but it still works. Rolling tends to compact gluten in the dough, which stretching and spinning helps to relax. This makes for a fluffier base
Transfer the base to a pizza tray, stretching where required to fill the tray up the the edges (or to maintain a circular shape if you want a smaller and/or thicker pizza). Work quickly and don't aim for total perfection - any small holes can be filled with a little left-over dough
Tip some passata or pizza sauce in the middle of each base and spread out with a small ladle or the back of a spoon until 1 or 2 centimetres away from the edge of the pizza
Place the tomato-covered pizza bases into the warm oven for around 15 to 30 minutes until the crusts have visibly risen (the tomato sauce keeps the rest of the base from rising too much)
Remove the pizzas from the oven and turn it up as hot as it will go (a fan oven is best if you're doing four at once, otherwise the top one burns before the bottom one has even had its cheese melted)
Whilst the oven is heating up, decorate with pizzas with whatever toppings you fancy, but don't overload as it means the bases don't cook very well. Also, if using fresh mozarella, squeeze it and ensure it's well drained, otherwise it can be too wet
When the oven is up to temperature, put the pizzas in quickly and set a timer for 7 minutes. At the end of the 7 minutes, check the top pizza and add more time if required. Note that even in a fan oven, the top one will still cook slightly quicker than the others, so as each top pizza is removed, add a minute or two for those remaining and move them up the shelves
Why so much salt? Salt helps to supress the action of the yeast, which means the dough doesn't prove too quickly, which in turn allows a better flavour to develop. You can however reduce the amount of salt to about 10g if required, without too much impact, although the dough isn't quite as good. Alternatively, for a much lower-salt version, start with 3g yeast, 200g flour and 200g water, mix in a bowl to a stiff batter, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm room for at least six hours. Add this "fake sourdough starter" to the remaining flour and water, with another 6g yeast and 5g salt. Put this in the bread machine and run the pizza or quick dough program (or knead by hand). Allow to prove for an additional 45-60 minutes in the machine after the program finishes, then continue rolling out as above. You can of course simply use the bread machine's standard pizza program if in a rush, but the key here is to allow at least an hour's proving in the machine after the program has finished. It still works, although it's much more of a "bread" base.