You can make up the dough within a few hours, or let it bulk ferment for several days, which makes the texture and flavour fantastic.
Makes about 18 7” pizzas
7 cups unbleached flour
1 ½ tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp active dry yeast
3 cups lukewarm water
Measure 4 cups of flour into a large mixer bowl. Add the salt. Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of the lukewarm water and add it to the bowl along with the remaining 2 cups of water. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Add 2 more cups of flour and stir to a stiff mass. Clean off the wooden spoon and insert the dough hook into the stand mixer; knead on low speed for about 10 minutes, adding in the additional cup of flour to make a soft dough. (Alternatively, knead the dough by hand.)
Grease a large bowl with olive oil, transfer the dough to the bowl and coat it with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let proof on the counter at room temperature for 2 days (or if you need the dough right away, let it double in bulk for about 1 ½ hours, then proceed with make the pizza). During the first few hours, place your hand along the edge of the dough, grab a piece and pull it up and fold the dough over onto itself. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat, turning the bowl a total of four times. Cover and let rest. Do this procedure four times over the next 2-3 hours. Then leave the dough to sit at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap. After 2 days, refrigerate the dough for a further 24 hours. Remove the dough from the fridge about 2 hours before using.
About 2 hours before you are ready to make the pizza, start the wood oven with kindling and logs. Let burn until some good embers build up and the oven is 800-900°F. This will take about 60-90 minutes. Use an instant thermometer to gauge the temp. The dark soot will have burned off the inside roof of the oven as well. Push the coals to the back of the oven. Clean the base of the oven with a wet towel. Do this several times. Then let the base come back up to temperature while you make the pizza.
To make the pizza, cut off a piece of dough about the size of a tennis ball. Using your fingers, work the dough to a thin pizza bottom. You can also use a rolling pin. The dough might become round or oval, it doesn’t matter because it will be fantastic regardless. Transfer the dough to a cornmeal-coated pizza peel. *Do this before you top the pizza.* Jiggle the pizza back and forth to make sure it is not sticking. Then proceed.
Smear with about 2 heaping tbsp fresh tomato sauce and top with cheese and other toppings (sliced artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper strips, sautéed mushrooms, fresh mozzarella cheese, for example). Don’t overload the pizza too much or it may stick to the peel or you will lose the toppings when you put the pizza into the oven.
Then, using a quick shaking motion, quickly transfer the pizza to the bricks. With the heat this high, it will take about 90 seconds to 2 minutes to cook the pizza. The dough will puff up and become soft yet sturdy. Turn the pizza often using a paddle. Remove from the oven to a cutting board. Let cool slightly. Cut and enjoy. Repeat with more pizzas.
Fresh Uncooked Tomato Sauce
796 mL can diced tomatoes
1 fresh tomato
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh chopped basil
3-4 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp chili flakes, optional
Combine all in a bowl and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings.