This classic pizza tastes even better when it’s pulled crisp and sizzling from a wood-fired oven.
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1¾ cups unbleached (approximately) all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting
- ¾ cup warm water, divided
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 (14- to 15-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
- 2 large garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 basil leaves plus more for sprinkling
- ¼ tsp sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 6 oz (175 g) fresh mozzarella, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
- Stir together yeast, 1 tbsp flour, and ¼ cup warm water in a large bowl and let stand until surface appears creamy, about 5 minutes.
- Add 1¼ cups flour, remaining ½ cup water, salt, and oil and stir until smooth. Stir in enough flour (about ¼ cup) for dough to begin to pull away from side of bowl. (Dough will be slightly wet.)
- Knead on a floured surface, lightly reflouring when dough becomes too sticky, until smooth, soft, and elastic, about 8 minutes. Form into a ball, put in a bowl, and dust with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, about 1¼ hours.
- Pulse tomatoes with juice in a blender briefly to make a chunky purée. Cook garlic in oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until fragrant and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Add tomato purée, basil and sugar and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened and reduced to about ¾ cup, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and cool.
- Build fire in bake oven, allowing about 2 hours for oven to heat and wood to burn down. Temperature should be about 600ºF. (If using a conventional oven, place pizza stone in oven and preheat to 500ºF.)
- Do not punch down dough. Dust with flour, then transfer to a parchment-lined pizza peel or large baking sheet. Pat dough out with your fingers and stretch into a 12- to 14-inch circle.
- Spread sauce over dough leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange cheese on top. Bake until dough is crisp and browned and cheese is golden, about 8 minutes in outdoor oven, 15 minutes in a conventional oven. Sprinkle with basil leaves and serve.