Baking-Powder Pizza Crust

16 oz all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling out (about 3 cups +2 tablespoons)

4 teaspoons baking powder

4 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon table salt

1/3 cup olive oil

1 1/3 cups water

for basic cheese pizza:

pizza sauce

shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Adjust your oven rack to the 2nd lowest position and put your pizza stone on it. Preheat the oven to 425.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl; mix well. Add the olive oil and water, and mix with a rubber/silicone spatula until the dough holds together and mostly pulls away from the sides of the bowl. (If you measured your flour by scooping, and the dough seems obviously too wet or too dry, mix in a bit more flour or dribble of water.) Let the dough sit for 2 or 3 minutes.

3. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (I just use my counter) and knead for 5 minutes, adding a bit of flour if needed to keep it from sticking to your work surface and your hands. Shape the dough into a ball, cover with the mixing bowl, and let rest for 5 minutes. This resting part is really important. I don't know what's happening under the bowl, but after 5 minutes the dough will be soft and smooth and gorgeous, and much easier to roll and stretch out to a circle. 

4. Divide the dough into two equal portions. You can eyeball this, but I use my kitchen scale so they are as equal as possible (weigh the dough, then remove half and adjust by bits of dough until the portions are more-or-less equal). Form the two portions into balls, cover with the mixing bowl, and let rest for a few more minutes.

4. Dust your work surface with a bit more flour. Press, stretch, and roll one of the balls of dough out to a 12-inch circle. This takes a bit of patience as the dough likes to shrink back, but you'll eventually get there. Once you have your circle about the right size lay the dough on the pizza peel (dust with flour first to prevent sticking) and finish rolling it out. (I roll out the dough until it is at the very edges of my peel, which is about 13x14-inches because when I transfer it to my stone it always shrinks a little. My stone is 14-in in diameter, and I want to use as much of the space as I can.)

5. Spread pizza sauce and cheese on the dough and slide it onto the pre-heated pizza peel. You'll need to give the peel a few quick shakes and jiggles back and forth to make sure the dough isn't sticking, or you could have a mess when you try to slide it onto the stone (which is completely maddening). And I mean quick. Like you look like you're having some kind of seizure. And some of the cheese might shake off the edges on to the floor (which always makes my dogs happy). But don't skip this part. When I forget to make sure it's not sticking I'm always sorry.

6. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, and the bottom of the crust is golden. Use your peel to remove the pizza from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board (I don't like to cut the pizza on my peel because it makes marks on the wood which I worry will ruin it over time. If you have a metal peel you are probably safe). Cut the pizza into wedges, squares, or whatever shape you want. Right now my kids like it cut into rectangles.

7. Repeat with the 2nd ball of pizza dough.

Makes 2 12- to 14-inch pizzas.

Note: I weigh a lot of my baking ingredients, especially flour, baking cocoa, and powdered sugar because they settle and clump like crazy. This can make it really hard to get an accurate amount by using the "scoop method" which can leave you with different results every time you make the recipe. In case you don't have a kitchen scale, I've included an approximate scoop measurement (scoop, settle by tapping the top with a knife, and level with the knife). I also use my kitchen scale to divide the dough into two equal portions so the pizzas are the same size.

I should also say that I love to knead dough by hand (I like the feel of the dough and I have less to wash), so that's what I describe below. If you want to use a food processor with a dough blade, feel free.