Timeline: Stir together the dough in the morning (before 9am is ideal) and allow to rise on the counter through the day (at least 7-8 hours is best). About 1 1/2 hours before you want to eat, form dough into a ball. It will rest for 1 hour after that. Preheat your oven during this rest time and gather your pizza topping ingredients. Finally, spread the dough into the your baking pan, top and bake!
Make the pizza dough: Stir together the dough ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon (dough will rise a lot at one point, so use a large enough bowl to allow it to triple in size). Dough will be shaggy and dry, but just stir as best you can to moisten the flour well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set on the counter to rise for 7-8 hours (the longer the better!).
Baking pan options: A 12-inch bottom diameter round cast-iron skillet or steel skillet is the perfect size for this dough. Alternately, you can use a metal, 9x13-inch baking pan, either a cake pan or a high-sided baking sheet. A heavier and darker pan is best, if you have options. You can also make two smaller 8-10-inch pizzas in smaller round skillets or cake pans.
About 1 1/2 hours before you want to eat your pizza, remove the dough to a floured work surface. The dough will look very moist and sticky in the bowl. Use a silicone bowl scraper if you have one, to make easy work of getting it out of the bowl. Dust the top of the dough with a bit of flour, as well, then gently knead the dough a bit, working in a bit of additional flour, as needed, only if the dough is sticking to your work surface or hands. Form the dough into a ball. Brush the baking pan liberally with olive or vegetable oil and place your dough ball into the centre of your prepared baking pan. Cover with a clean tea towel and let the dough rest for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 500F.
Once dough has rested, using only your fingertips, gently press down and stretch the dough towards the outside edges of the pan. It will want to shrink back a bit, but keep at it. You don't want to deflate the dough too much, so only use your fingertips. If it is stubborn, let it rest a couple of minutes, then try again.
Once the dough is stretched to the outside of the pan, top with pizza sauce. I like to spread the pizza sauce right to the edges of the dough, but you can leave a margin around the outside, if you like. Sprinkle with some red pepper flakes, if using, then top with grated cheese and pepperoni.
Bake pizza in preheated 500F oven for 13-15 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Let pizza rest in pan about 4-5 minutes, then loosen with a spatula and slide onto a cutting board, to slice and enjoy.
1. If you only have Active Dry yeast, warm the water to lukewarm and activate the yeast in the water first. Then add the flour and salt and stir together as directed. Fast or quick-rising yeast is not recommended for this long rising dough.2. For a quick and easy, homemade pizza sauce, break up canned whole tomatoes a bit with a fork, drain for an hour or so in a fine strainer to remove the excess liquid, then mash up a bit more and season generously with salt. Pan Pizza Topping Ideas:Classic- freshly grated, low-moisture mozzarella cheese and pepperoni. A garnish of freshly grated Parmesan after baking would be nice here, too.Italian Meat and Provolone - Provolone cheese slices, topped with Italian deli meats (prosciutto, salami etc.). Garnish with fresh basil after baking.BBQ Chicken - substitute BBQ sauce for the pizza sauce. Top with sliced red onion, cooked chicken and chopped cilantro.Hawaiian - top with chopped, cooked ham and pineapple, maybe with some red onion or red pepper added to the mix.You can top your pizza any way you like, but keep in mind a couple of tips, for best results ...Don't over-load your pizza. Too many toppings will produce too much moisture and weight on top of the pizza, both of which will affect the quality of the baked crust.Stick with low-moisture toppings. (Avoid sliced tomatoes, zucchini, etc), to avoid excess moisture and a soggy crust. Pre-cooking things like mushrooms a bit is always a good way to cook off a little moisture before using them on the pizza.