Cooking pizza with a convection is quick and easy, thanks to the high temperature and even distribution of heat with the internal fan. Now, making the dough is where the hard work comes in. Here's a foolproof made-from-scratch pizza recipe using the convection oven.
Prepare Homemade Dough
Mix flour and salt in a bowl, sifting first if necessary to remove any clumps.
In a separate bowl, add yeast and sugar to warm (not hot) water and stir gently. Wait for a light brown froth to form on the water’s surface; this is an essential sign that the yeast is activating.
Make a well in the center of the flour and add the warm yeast broth slowly, working the flour into a paste with a wooden spoon. Once all the water is added, start mixing the dough with your hands. Add the oil last so that the flour has a chance to absorb as much water as possible. If the dough is still bright and tacky, add small amounts of flour until the dough is dry enough to pull away from the side of the bowl.
Transfer the dough ball to a chopping board dusted with flour and knead. After 5 minutes or so, the dough should have an even texture and a noticeable increase in elasticity. Put the dough ball into a glass bowl brushed inside with olive oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let the dough rise at room temperature. After an hour, it should double in size.
Place the dough on a chopping board dusted with flour and punch the dough down with your knuckles, rolling them around the surface to expel the gas inside. Divide the dough into two balls, cover each in plastic wrap, and let stand for an additional 20 minutes. If making well in advance, refrigerate the wrapped dough balls overnight for an even tastier dough. Before using, let it return to room temperature.
Preheat the convection oven to the highest setting, typically 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, place a pizza stone or baking tray inside while preheating, to crisp the crust from beneath.
On a chopping board dusted with flour or cornmeal, roll out each dough ball into a circle, making sure to keep a regular, even thickness throughout.
Brush the top of the pizza dough with olive oil, then add tomato sauce, then grated cheese. Don't overload the dough with sauce and toppings or the pizza may become soggy.
Remove the pizza stone or baking tray from the convection oven, dust it with cornmeal and slide the first pizza on top with a wide spatula. Transfer the stone to the bottom rack of the oven, using a wooden pizza paddle if available, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the first pizza from the oven, then slide the second pizza onto the stone or tray and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
Let the pizza cool for a few minutes, top with basil, then cut it into slices with a pizza wheel.
Skip the rising step for a thin-crust pizza, or if pressed for time. As long as the dough is kneaded sufficiently, it will stretch enough to form a circle and support toppings.
For an extra crispy crust, heat the dough first in a hot skillet for a couple of minutes before adding the toppings.
Although many cooks enjoy the tactile process of kneading by hand, it does require strong arms and hands. Make the job easier by kneading the dough in a mixer with a dough hook.
Use Italian ‘00’ flour if available. The finely ground flour makes a softer dough and is the flour of choice for restaurants.
Substitute instant dry yeast for active dry, if desired. It can be added directly to the flour mix and doesn't require proofing or warm water.
Because the pizza is only in the oven for a short time, toppings like chicken, sausage or ground beef that aren't smoked or cured won't cook through and should be sautéed first until cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.