This pizza recipe comes from Ruth Gresser of Pizzeria Paradiso in Washington, D.C. The Paradiso is a classic, simple pizza topped with an uncooked chunky tomato sauce and lots of fresh mozzarella cheese.
You can make this dough in an electric mixer, food processor, or bread machine, but this recipe uses the simple method of hand mixing using only your fingers and a dough scraper as your tools.
This recipe makes dough for two 12-inch pizzas. Save any extra dough for another time in the freezer.
Pizzeria Paradiso, uses a combination of diced canned tomatoes and crushed tomatoes; for the latter, Pomi is the brand of choice.
Mound the flour on a clean countertop and make a large well (about as wide as your outstretched hand) in the center of the flour. Add the water and yeast to the well and let stand for 5 minutes to dissolve the yeast.
Using the index and middle fingers of one hand, mix the salt and oil into the water. Again using the index and middle fingers, gradually begin to draw the flour from the inside wall of the well into the water, being careful not to break the flour walls. Continue mixing the flour into the water until a loose dough is formed. Using a dough scraper, continue gradually mixing in the remaining flour until the dough forms a ball.
Using even pressure, begin kneading the ball of dough by pushing down and away with the heel of your hand. Next, take the far edge of the dough and fold it in half onto itself. Turn the dough a quarter turn. Push down and away again with the heel of your hand. Again fold the dough in half and turn. Continue kneading (pushing, folding, and turning), adding flour as necessary, until the texture is smooth and springs back when you press the dough with your fingertip, which should take about 10 minutes.
Place the dough in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut it into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball.
Place the dough balls on a floured plate and cover them with plastic wrap. Let them rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour at room temperature for room temperature dough or 2 to 3 hours at room temperature for cold dough. Or let rise in the refrigerator for 6 hours or up to overnight. (At this point, you may freeze the dough. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.) Allow refrigerated dough to stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.
Drain the diced tomatoes and place them in a large bowl. Stir in the olive oil, parsley, salt, basil, and pepper. Store the sauce in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage.
Cut the mozzarella into a ⅓-inch dice. You should have about ¾ cup.
Place a pizza stone on the top rack of a cool oven. Set the oven to broil and preheat for 30 minutes.
On a floured work surface, flatten the dough ball with your fingertips and stretch it into a 12-inch (30 cm) round. Sprinkle a pizza peel with cornmeal and lay the pizza dough round onto it. Spread ¾ cup (170 g) of the tomato sauce onto the pizza dough, leaving ½- to ¾-inch (1.3 to 2 cm) of dough uncovered around the outside edge. Scatter the cheese on top of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with some oil.
Give the peel a quick shake to be sure the pizza is not sticking to the peel. Slide the pizza off the peel onto the stone in the oven. Broil for 1 minute and then turn the oven temperature to the highest bake setting and cook for 5 minutes. Quickly open the oven door, pull out the rack, and with a pair of tongs, rotate the pizza (not the stone) a half turn. Cook for 5 minutes more.
Using the peel, remove the pizza from the oven. Cut into slices and serve.