1 cup warm water 110* to 115* F
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups flour, divided
1/2 cup cornmeal, coarsely ground
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casing and crumbled
One 15-ounce can whole tomatoes
1 pound mozzarella, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped fine
4 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
15-inch deep dish pizza pan
1. Proof the yeast in the warm water until it foams, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of flour, the cornmeal, salt, and the vegetable oil. Stir to combine everything.
2. Continue adding the flour a half cup at a time, stirring after every addition, until the flour is used up. The dough should form a soft ball and come away from the sides of the bowl.
3. Flour a work surface and begin to knead the dough until it reaches elasticity and is no longer very sticky, about 10 to 12 minutes. Put the ball of dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease all sides and cover with a damp towel. Set the bowl in an area free of drafts. Let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
4. Punch the dough down and briefly knead on a floured surface, about 2 minutes. Press the dough into a greased pizza pan until it comes up the 2-inch sides of the pan and is even on the bottom. Cover and let rise for about 20 minutes.
5. Prepare the topping: Saute the sausage until it is cooked through, crumbling it as it cooks. Drain off the fat and set it aside. Strain the tomatoes and roughly chop them.
6. Preheat the oven to 500*F. When the dough has completed the second rising, layer the sliced mozzarella over the bottom of the dough, followed by the sausage and then the garlic. Finish with the chopped tomatoes and basil, and sprinkle with the grated Romano cheese.
7. Bake for 15 minutes at 500*F, then turn down the oven temperature to 400*F and bake for another 25 to 35 minutes. One way to check the cooking time is to lift up a section of the crust and check the color. The crust should be a dark golden brown and be slightly crispy. When ready to serve, cut into slices and serve hot.
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