I've been making pizza at home for some time now and although I'm not an expert the pizzas I make today are considerably better than the pizzas I used to make.
For some time I made the base without yeast. It was thin, crispy and simple to make but these days I feel yeast based dough is much better. The dough is more stretchy and the thin pizza was sometimes too dense. Getting a good dough recipe is vital and it took ages for me to find one so I have one at the end of this article. I went through a lot of experiments trying to get the right consistency and the dough to rise. Don't worry if you go through several versions before you get it right.
Please remember that pizza base should be slightly salty.
When your dough has been stretched out or rolled, but before you do anything with toppings, pre-bake your base for 5-10 minutes at about 200 degrees to firm it up a bit.
For a basic sauce put a tomato in boiling water for 2 minutes, cut it in half and rub over the pizza base. Some options here are
For pizza toppings a good rule to bear in mind is "less is more". I have made many pizzas with far too much topping. The choice is very much up to you but I recommend olives, jalapenos and mushrooms.
To pineapple or not pineapple? Leave this for store bought pizza or cheaper delivery services.
Choosing the right cheese is vital; I prefer thin slices of fresh Mozarella with some grated Cheddar to fill in the gaps. Before you groan at the idea of a very English pizza made with Cheddar, I notice that most pizza chains don't seem to use Mozarella and if they do, in small quantities. Finally I like to add a few fresh basil leaves after the pizza comes out of the oven. Don't add when the pizza is in the oven as they will dry up.
It was never clear to me in what order I should dress the pizza. I have settled on the order of sauce, seasoning, toppings then cheese.
For the cooking, unless you have a pizza oven, turn the heat up as high as your oven will go. Traditional pizza are cooked at about 400 degrees C for about 30 seconds.
Final step (important), add freshly ground black pepper.
You may need to vary the amount of flour/water very slightly depending on the humidity. The dough should be slightly moist but not wet and not dry. Be careful not to use too much salt or use water that is too hot or you will kill the yeast. If the water is too cold the yeast will not grow and make the dough rise. If you want to make without yeast for a thin base, try reducing the water slightly and adding a tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil.