Place the yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and stir with a long-handled wooden spoon until the yeast is dissolved. After a few minutes you should see bubbles appear on the surface of the yeast mixtureσthis will let you know that the yeast is working. Add the flour, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and the salt, and stir well to combine. Continue stirring until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and comes together.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead until it forms a smooth, elastic ball, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Grease a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of the remaining oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat with the oil. Cover with a damp dish towel or plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free place and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours.
Place the oven rack in the lowest position in the oven and preheat the oven to 500?F.
Lightly grease the baking sheets with 1 teaspoon each of the remaining oil. Set aside.
Divide the dough into 2 portions and shape into 2 smooth balls. Pat 1 dough ball down into a flat round, about 6 inches in diameter, on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the second ball of dough and let both rest for 10 minutes.
With your fingertips, push out each dough round into a thin 12-inch round, or roll with a rolling pin.
Yield: Two 12-inch pizzas
Spoon the Best Basic Red Sauce or pizza sauce onto the dough round, and spread it to within 1 inch of the edge with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle the basil (if using) and cheese evenly on top.
Bake on the lowest rack of the oven until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Using oven mitts or pot holders, remove the sheet from the oven.
Cut the pizza into slices with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.
THREE CHEESE PIZZA:
Spoon the Best Basic Red Sauce or pizza sauce onto the dough round and spread it to within 1 inch of the edge with the back of the spoon.
Sprinkle the cheeses evenly over the top.
Follow steps 2, 3, and 4 as for Margherita Pizza.
OPTIONAL PIZZA ACCOMPANIMENTS:
Sliced or chopped onions
Sliced or chopped bell peppers
Different kinds of cheese