By Sarah Breckenridge, producer
Posted: April 4th, 2012
At least 30 minutes before baking, position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and if using a pizza stone, set it on the rack. (If you don't have a stone, use a heavy-duty 13x18-inch baking sheet lightly oiled with olive oil.) Heat the oven to 500 degrees F. If using a pizza stone, dust a peel with unbleached all-purpose flour.
While the oven heats, generously flour the dough and then stretch and tuck it under itself, giving it quarter turns as you form a ball of dough with a smooth top. Let rest on the work surface, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. Meanwhile, prep all the toppings as directed in the ingredient list before you begin shaping your dough.
Once the dough has rested, very lightly flour your work surface and lay your dough ball in the center of the floured area. Flour your hands and then, using your palms and fingertips, press and stretch the dough into a rough circle about 12 inches in diameter and 1/2-inch thick. Or use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough into a circle; if sticky spots occur, flour your fingertips (or your rolling pin) and continue stretching the dough. Flip the dough occasionally so it doesn't stick to the work surface, and use a dough scraper to detach the dough from the work surface if it does stick. If the dough continually contracts, let it rest, covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before resuming the stretching process. It's OK if your dough isn't a perfect circle. Transfer the stretched dough to the prepared pizza peel or baking sheet (if using a baking sheet, try to press the dough all the way out to the corners).
Using the back of a large spoon, spread the tomato sauce onto the stretched dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch border. Distribute the ricotta and cherry tomatoes evenly, then scatter the basil on top.
If using a baking sheet, put it on the rack. If using a pizza stone, shake the peel a bit to make sure the pizza isn't stuck and then slide the pizza off the peel and onto the heated stone (Aim for the back of the stone and place the end of the peel there). Bake, turning the pizza with a peel or tongs if one side browns faster than the other, until the crust is nicely browned and crisp and the cheese is bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes on a pizza stone, or 25 to 30 minutes on a baking sheet. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board and let stand for 1 to 2 minutes before cutting it with a pizza wheel, kitchen shears, or a chef's knife.