classic cheese pizza

Few culinary delights compare to the sheer satisfaction of a well-made classic cheese pizza. The simplicity of its ingredients melds together to create a symphony of flavors that pleases every palate. This recipe for Extra Classic Cheese Pizza will guide you through each step meticulously, ensuring your homemade pizza rivals those of the finest pizzerias.

Ingredients for the Perfect Classic Cheese Pizza

For the Dough:

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110°F)
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt

For the Sauce:

  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Toppings:

  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • Olive oil for brushing

Step-by-Step Preparation

1. Preparing the Dough

Activate the Yeast

In a large mixing bowl, combine the warm water and sugar, then sprinkle the yeast over the top. Allow it to sit for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes frothy. This step is crucial as it ensures your dough will rise properly.

Mixing and Kneading

Add the olive oil, salt, and 3 1/2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture. Stir until a dough begins to form. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for about 8-10 minutes, adding additional flour as necessary to prevent sticking, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

First Rise

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

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2. Preparing the Sauce

Sauté the Garlic

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté for about 1-2 minutes until it becomes fragrant, being careful not to burn it.

Simmer the Sauce

Add the crushed tomatoes, sugar, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper to the saucepan. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let it cook for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Adjust seasoning to taste.

3. Assembling the Pizza

Preheat the Oven

Preheat your oven to 475°F (245°C). If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven while it preheats.

Shape the Dough

Punch down the risen dough and divide it into two equal portions if you prefer a thinner crust. Roll out each portion on a floured surface to your desired thickness. For a classic, slightly thicker crust, use the entire dough ball without dividing it.

Add the Sauce and Cheese

Transfer the rolled-out dough onto a piece of parchment paper or a pizza peel if using a pizza stone. Spread a generous amount of tomato sauce evenly over the surface, leaving a small border around the edges for the crust. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese evenly over the sauce, followed by a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

4. Baking the Pizza

Final Preparation

Brush the exposed edges of the dough with olive oil to help them brown and become crispy during baking. If desired, add fresh basil leaves either before or after baking for an extra touch of flavor.

Bake to Perfection

Carefully transfer the pizza to the preheated oven or onto the pizza stone. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

5. Serving the Pizza

Cool and Slice

Once baked, remove the pizza from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before slicing. This allows the cheese to set slightly, making it easier to cut and serve.

Enjoy the Classic Flavors

Serve your Extra Classic Cheese Pizza hot, garnished with fresh basil if desired. Pair it with a crisp green salad and a glass of your favorite wine for a truly delightful meal.

Tips for the Best Cheese Pizza

Choosing the Right Cheese

For the best melt and flavor, use high-quality mozzarella cheese. A blend of low-moisture and fresh mozzarella can provide a balance of texture and taste. Grating the cheese yourself from a block often yields better results than pre-shredded varieties.

Perfecting the Dough

The dough is the foundation of your pizza. Ensure your water temperature is correct for activating the yeast, and be patient with the rising process. A slow, steady rise in a warm environment produces the best texture.

Enhancing the Sauce

Fresh, quality ingredients make a significant difference. Opt for canned tomatoes with no added preservatives or sugars. Adjust the seasoning to your liking, and consider adding a pinch of red pepper flakes for a slight kick.

Achieving the Ideal Crust

Baking on a pizza stone preheated in the oven can help mimic the intense heat of professional pizza ovens, giving you a beautifully crisp crust. If you don’t have a pizza stone, an inverted baking sheet can also work well.

Variations to Try

While the classic cheese pizza is a timeless favorite, you can experiment with various toppings to create your unique version. Consider adding pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, or a blend of your favorite cheeses. A drizzle of balsamic glaze or a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes can also elevate the flavor profile.


Creating an Extra Classic Cheese Pizza at home is a rewarding endeavor that brings together the joy of cooking and the pleasure of sharing a delicious meal. By following these detailed steps and tips, you’ll be well on your way to mastering this iconic dish. Whether for a family dinner or a casual get-together with friends, this pizza is sure to impress and satisfy.

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