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Pizza Crust

1 c warm water (120 degrees)
1 pkg dry yeast (2-1/4 t)
3/4 t sugar
4 c flour
1-1/2 t salt
1/2 c milk
3/8 c olive oil

Preheat bowl, and measure warm water.  Be sure water is still the correct temperature when poured into the bowl.  Stir in sugar and yeast, let sit for 10 minutes.  The yeast should be soft and a little puffy at this point.  (This shows it is active.)

Mix in the milk, olive oil, flour, and salt.  At some point it will become hard to stir.  Turn out on your counter and knead with the rest of the flour.  Knead for 5-10 minutes. May need a little more flour.

Put the dough ball back in the bowl and place in a warm place (like a gas oven with only the pilot light on).  Let rise for 45 minutes.  

At this point you can either punch it down and let rise for another 30 minutes or proceed.

Knead the dough again to remove all the air bubbles.  Divide into 2 balls and let rest 10 minutes. (This allows the yeast to start growing again; it will be easier to shape.)

Shape one ball into a circle the size of your pizza stone.  Mine is 14".  Stretching over fists or letting the dough hang by one edge are good ways to stretch it.  

Baking a pizza:

Pizza stone should heat in 450 degree oven for 30 minutes before the pizza is put in.

To slide a pizza onto the pizza stone:  I use a cookie sheet covered with cornmeal or panko to assemble the pizza.  Take care as you stretch the dough and assemble the pizza that at no place does the dough stick to the cookie sheet.  Panko is Japanese breadcrumbs, and work well to keep the dough sliding on the sheet.  Not as crunchy on the finished pizza as raw cornmeal!  When assembled, slide the pizza onto the stone in the oven.

Pizza will bake in 10-12 minutes on a well-preheated stone.

Fewer ingredients make the pizza easier to slide.  Too much sauce and heavy ingredients can make it difficult to slide.

My biggest problem with pizza has been getting the crust cooked on the bottom.  Pizza pans just don't do it; the stone does, yet it can be tricky getting the pizza onto the stone.  

Please send feedback on my technique, and additional suggestions!

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