1 1/4 cups warm water (110-120 degrees F)
1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/4 tbsp sugar
Dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Allow to sit for 8-10 minutes (builds a good froth, so make sure this is in a 2 cup or larger container, glass is best as it holds the heat nicely).
While yeast water is brewing, place in either a mixing bowl of a mixer with a dough hook or the bowl of a bread machine set on manual (no bake cycle):
3 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
When water is ready, add to flour, along with:
1 tbsp olive oil or butter flavoured oil
Mix thoroughly for about 4-6 minutes, being ready to add flour or water if neccessary (flour can vary from brand to brand) to make a smooth, springy dough. Dough should only be slightly sticky to the firm touch.
Remove dough from bowl and place in an airtight bag. Do not seal bag, but leave open in a nearly closed drape (that is, not wide open, but enough to allow gasses from yeast to escape). Set in a warm place for at lest one hour and fifteen minutes. This is the crucial part. Most people don’t allow the dough to properly rise, resulting in a tough, unpleasant dough.
Roll out to cover a 14 inch pan for thicker crust, 16 inch pan for thinner crust. Permeate crust with fork in a similar fashion to the way used to keep pie crusts from bubbling. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise an additional 15-20 minutes. Briefly repeat permeation with fork, though not as thoroughly.
Prepare toppings and sauses as desired. Cook pizza at 475 until crusts turns golden brown on edges and cheese is browned and bubbling (presuming your has cheese on it).
For Chicago style deep dish, follow these directions at the point where the dough is rolled out.
Grease a 12 inch pan (edges should come up at least 1 1/2 inches for best effect, but a shallower pan can be used, and the dough shaped to stick up instead) with olive oil.
Roll dough to cover pan, but remain thick . Place dough so that a lip sticks upward along center of pan. Paint a thin layer of olive oil over exposed surface. Cover with plastic wrap and set in warm place to rise for 25-30 minutes (do not permeate crust).
Bake in preheated oven at 425 for 4-6 minutes, until crust just starts to look glossyness, and becomes mildly firm to the touch. This is calle par-baking.