This is basically a white bread recipe that only gets to rise once. Then it gets rolled out into the pizza rounds.
Start by placing the yeast into a big bowl with two cups of warm water. The water should be around 105 degrees F, which is just hot enough to hurt when you put your finger in it. If you can't stand it, neither can the yeast. Give the yeast/water mixture a stir, then walk away for 10 or 15 minutes.
The yeast is ready when a scum or bubbles form on top. Watch the video to see what it should look like. Next, add the salt and the olive oil. Stir, then gradually add 4 cups of flour. Add it one cup at a time, stirring. By the time you get to the fourth cup, it will get too thick to stir with a spoon. Time to get your hands in there.
Put some flour on your hands, and keep adding flour as you start to knead the dough. The dough is kneaded in the bowl by pressing it flat on the bottom, then folding it in half and pressing down, adding flour as you go. The dough shouldn't be too sticky or wet by the time you add the fourth cup. It shouldn't be so dry that new flour falls of in chunks, either. The goal is to have a dough ball that has a silky feel, and which doesn't stick to your fingers much. If you hold it upside down it should keep its shape.
The first rise
Now it's time for the first and only rise. Take the dough ball out of the bowl, wipe the bowl clean with your hands. It doesn't have to be perfect. Add one tablespoon of the vegetable oil, grease the sides with your hands. Now, place the dough ball into the greased bowl. Cover it with a damp dish towel and walk away for an hour, or until it doubles in size.
While you wait for the dough, get your toppings ready.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F half an hour before you bake the pizza ( assuming that the rollout will take 10 minutes the first time you try it). Put the pizza stone into the oven as it preheats.
Once the dough has doubled, punch it down ( deflate it ) with your fists in the bowl. To make two medium-sized pizzas, tear the dough ball in half. Leave one ball in the bowl. It's time to flatten out the first one.
Spread some flour on a table. Take the dough ball and flatten it against the floured area. I tend to start flattening and spreading it with my hands. The goal is to get a round shape that you can then thin out with the rolling pin. Using the pin, push out from the center in a series of strokes that go in all directions. ( It's easier to see this than to describe it - try watching the video), You want to get the dough down to 1/4 inch thick. Don't worry if it is not perfectly round. The unevenness is part of a real pizza's charm.
Next, to make the crust, fold the dough's edges towards the center, pinching them as you go. Go all the way around, folding and pinching, until you have a slight risen edge all the way around. This will rise quite a bit in the oven.
Now, take the pizza stone out of the oven. It should be very hot. Sprinkle a bit of flour all around it - this will keep the pizza dough from sticking. Don't worry if it smokes a bit as the flour hits the stone.
Carefully lift the pizza dough off the table and carry it over to the hot stone, and lay it down. (If you have a peel, by all means use it. The rest of us use our hands for this part). Don't worry if the dough rips a bit here and there where it is thinnest. You can easily fix that once it is on the stone. The dough is still pliable, so fix any rips that may have occured in the moving. Just pinch the dough together to seal the holes.
Now, add your toppings as you like them. A traditional pizze only takes a few tablespoons of tomato sauce, spread with a spoon. Then sprinkle on the cheese and whatever else you like.
Bake the pizza
Lastly, put the pizza in the oven for ten minutes, keeping an eye on it. The crust should grow in the oven and turn golden. After you take it out, let it cool for two minutes, then slide it onto a cutting board where you can slice it up.
This is a process which becomes very easy once you get the hang of it. At our house, guests arrive with their kids expecting to watch a pizza get made.
Tip: for a crisper crust, try substituting a cup or two of whole wheat flour. Better for you, too!