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How to make a classic Margherita pizza (and your own dough) at home

When you're armed with the right pizza dough, sauce and technique, you'll never reach for the takeout menu again.
Plain pizza
Good quality tomatoes and olive oil is all you need to make a stellar pizza sauce. David Malosh

The classic. Get on it. Or add toppings just as they do down at the pie shop in town: cooked crumbled sausage or ground beef; pitted black olives; sauteed mushrooms, onions, or peppers; pepperoni; anchovies; whatever you like.


  • 1 round pizza dough (recipe follows)
  • 3 tablespoons pizza sauce (recipe follows)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 3/4 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • 4 to 5 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn


  1. Place a pizza stone or tiles on the middle rack of your oven and turn the heat to its highest setting. Let the oven heat for at least an hour.
  2. Stretch the dough and use a spoon to apply the sauce to its center. Use the back of the spoon to spread the sauce evenly across the surface, stopping about 1/₂ inch from the edges.
  3. Drizzle a little oil over the pie. Break the cheese into large pieces and place these gently on the sauce. Add other toppings, if using any, to taste. Scatter the basil leaves over the top.
  4. Using a pizza peel, pick up the pie and slide it onto the heated stone in the oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, 4 to 8 minutes.



  • 306 grams “00” flour (about 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 306 grams all-purpose flour (about 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons), plus more for dusting
  • 16 grams kosher salt (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 4 grams active dry yeast (about 1 ¹/₂ teaspoons)
  • 8 grams extra-virgin olive oil (about 2 teaspoons)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the “00” flour, all-purpose flour, and salt.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together 400 grams (a little less than 2 cups) lukewarm tap water, the yeast, and the oil, then pour it into the flour mixture. Knead with your hands until well combined, about 3 minutes, then let the mixture rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Knead the rested dough for 3 minutes. Cut into 4 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Place on a heavily floured surface, cover with a dampened cloth, and allow to rest and rise for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature or for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. (If you refrigerate the dough, remove it 30 to 45 minutes before you begin to shape it for pizza.)
  4. To make pizza, place each dough ball on a heavily floured surface and use your fingers to stretch it, then your hands to shape it into rounds or squares. Top and bake.


  1. Working on a floured surface, with floured hands, softly pat down the risen ball of dough into a circle, rotating it as you do.
  2. Using the tips of your fingers, push down gently around the perimeter of the pie, rotating it as you do, to create the edge.
  3. Pick up the dough and lightly pass it back and forth between your palms, trying to rotate it each time you do, using gravity to help the dough stretch. At about 12 inches in diameter, the pizza is ready to go.
  4. Return the pizza to the floured surface, making sure that the side that you first pressed down on remains facing upward, and gently slide the pie back and forth a few times to make sure that it does not stick. Add a little more flour to the surface beneath the pie if it does.
  5. Gently slide a lightly floured pizza peel beneath the pie, or place it carefully on a floured cutting board or the back of a baking pan. Make sure again that the dough can slide back and forth. If it does, the pie is certified for topping.


Empty a 28-ounce can of good tomatoes into a food processor or blender. Add a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Whiz that together and use about 3 tablespoons per pie. Leftover sauce can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator and used for more pizzas later, or as a simple pasta sauce.

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