Everyone has their favourite style, although mine remains sticking to a more traditional Italian style and using as little dough as possible, keeping the dish thin, crisp and light with relatively few ingredients as toppings. 2009 saw Italy winning Traditional Speciality Guaranteed status for its Neapolitan Pizza, using a strict list of ingredients and made within the region of Naples. The recipe below should be good starting point for making your own pizzas, but the key is to cook it quickly on a high heat, ensuring that the oven is as hot as it will go before each pizza is placed into the oven.
Pizza Dough – Makes 5-6 pizzas
450g ‘00’ Grade Flour (plus extra for dusting/working the dough)
1 tsp Salt
7g sachet of Yeast
~30 tblsp Water (plus more if dough isn’t malleable enough)
4 tblsp Olive Oil plus extra for oiling the proving bowl
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
½ tsp Caster Sugar
1 Large Egg
For the sauce:
1 tblsp Tomato Puree
1 tsp of Oregano (optional)
½ tsp White Sugar
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 Clove of Garlic (crushed in the skin)
To make the sauce:
1. Heat the passata until begins to simmer, reduce the heat and add the sugar, garlic, the tomato puree, oregano and vinegar.
2. Continue heating for 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally and then leave to rest.
3. Ensure the sauce is warm and thickened before adding approximately 8-10 tblsp to a pizza base, spreading this out in a circular motion. See the method below for making the dough….
To make the dough:
1. To five tblsp of warmed water add the cast sugar and then the dried yeast; leave this to grow for 5-10 minutes.
2. Mix the ingredients together aside from the yeast and sugar, sieving the flour into a mixing bowl to combine with the salt and then add the egg and oil, adding the rest of the water a little bit at a time to the mix whilst turning with a spoon. Now add the yeast/water/sugar Mixture.
3. Mix the ingredients thoroughly as other bread dough, adding water or additional flour as required. The dough should feel silken and slightly tacky, but not stick too firmly to a work surface. Continue working the dough vigorously for at least 5-10 minutes.
4. Oil a large mixing bowl and place the ball shaped pizza dough (which should also be dusted with flour prior to placing the bowl) in to prove. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place for at least an hour until doubled in size.
5. Once proved, work the dough gently again, adding flour as required and then repeat the proving process in step 4 above once more.
6. Tear off Balls of approximately 90-100g of dough from the proven pizza dough, use your fingers and knuckles to spread the dough out in a circular motion, finally use a rolling pin to flatten out to a 2-3mm thickness and place this on a baking net or tray (I have found the nets work really well in the absence of a pizza stone, rather than a tray). Add the tomato sauce, cheese and toppings as required (do not overload on any of the toppings, particularly in the centre of the pizza – this will allow the pizza to remain crisp and light).
7. Bake in a preheated oven on a baking tray or preferably a baking net, on the maximum temperature until the cheese is melted completely or the edges of the pizza crust are a golden to dark brown colour.
There are a multitude of toppings you can add, bearing in mind that the old adage that less is more usually is right! Whilst the addition of cured meats is a savoury treat, satisfaction from a simple margherita style offering using only tomato (san marzano – strictly speaking), cheese (buffalo mozzarella) and basil (if required) will do a fine job of providing joy. I’m a sucker for pepperoni, speck or chorizo though!