Hello hungry peoples,
Today we cover an essential basic – pizza making. This is my tried and tested for making amazing pizza from scratch, using a conventional oven and getting an old style wood fired Italian pizza result. When I say tried and tested, I mean I have made a million of these. Pizza is delicious! This method will have a homemade pizza from crust to end in an hour. Doesn’t sound so great? Don’t worry, most of the hour is letting the dough sit. The actual pizza cooking takes 5 minutes. The awesome thing about this recipe is you will end up with enough dough base for about 6 pizzas, and it freezes and defrosts perfectly well. Also, once your oven is fired up every pizza thereafter will only take another 5 minutes.
So lets discuss the base. Making your own base can seem like hassles but really nothing beats it. If you can’t be bothered, no worries. Buy the ready made pizza bases at any supermarket and get creative with the toppings. Either way, you should be making pizza. Do it…..DO IT NOW! Anyway back to the base. My recipe comes from the lovely Alys, one of my brunch peeps, who got it from someone’s Italian Nonna. The key magical ingredient is a mix of flours which produces the most lovely crispy crust.
The other thing I insist on is a pizza stone. This makes a huge difference and they are a very small investment. If you are particularly astute you can get them for around $10. Usually $15 at most. I seem to go through one every couple of years. Possibly worn out through overuse. The only thing with these stones is that they need time in the oven to get heated up. You want the stone piping hot before you put your pizza onto it. Also they absorb liquid so never EVER wash them in detergent. I just give mine a quick scrub under hot water, usually to remove the melted cheese overflow. You can even buy special metal pizza stone brushes to do this.
Lastly, in regards to tools I love the Zyliss pizza cutter. The design allows you to put a lot of weight behind the blade, which seems far superior to the traditional design when slicing and dicing your pizza. Let’s get into it!
- 550g plain flour
- 250g continental flour
- 200g coarse semolina flour
- 1 tsp yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 3-4 cups warm water
- Firstly put your oven on its highest setting fan forced with your pizza stone in it. You need a really hot oven and stone to make a great pizza. By the time your dough is ready your oven will be hot enough.
- Combine your flours into a bowl and give them a mix. Continental flour can be hard to get in your local supermarket but you can find it in health food shops. You can simplify the flours and replace this with plain flour but the results are not as good. Continental flour is a high protein flour, which provides strength and elasticity. It is also less absorbent to liquids, preventing a soggy crust. Lastly it has high gluten, which helps the crust to hold together and rise nicely due to trapped air bubbles. The coarse semolina helps to provide a crispier crust.
- Make a small well in the flour and put the teaspoon of yeast and sugar in with a bit of warm water to make a wet paste. The sugar is food for the yeast so they can make lovely bubbles in the dough. Leave it for a bit to give the yeast a chance to get going. Make another separate well in the flour and add the tbsp of salt. Add some warm water to this to help dissolve the salt and mix into the flour. You do not add it directly to the yeast as the salt will kill it. Now you add about 3-4 cups of warm water to the flour to make a nice wet dough. I always make it pretty wet as the yeast seems to work better. Use a dough hook on your mixer (or do some old school kneading) to mix everything together.
- Leave your dough on the bench for about an hour. This gives it time to rise, usually to about double in size. If the weather is nice and warm it may happen a bit sooner. In the mean time get your toppings ready. For this example I am going to use tomato passata, salami, Swiss brown mushrooms and olives.
- Once the dough has risen separate a large fist size ball of dough. Flour it to reduce stickiness as needed and roll it out to the size of a large pizza. This will make the crust pretty thin but it will puff up a bit as it cooks.
- Remove the hot pizza stone from the oven. Rub a bit of olive oil onto one side of the crust and place onto the stone, oiled side down.
- Now you have to work quickly to put the toppings on. Try to not use more the a few tbsp’s of passata as it will make the dough soggy. Passata is more traditional and preferable to tomato paste as it is less concentrated and rich. I usually open a jar and bag it into pizza sized servings which I keep in the freezer. Break the mozzarella up into little chunks, which will help prevent it making the crust soggy, and spread it on top of the pizza. Quickly put the other toppings on and put the pizza stone back in the oven.
- Since the oven is so hot your pizza will be done in 5-10 minutes. You can serve the pizza on the stone, as it will keep the pizza hot, but you will need a heat trivet so you don’t burninate your dining table. If you are making multiple pizza, load the pizza stone up again and repeat. That’s it, your done!
p.s. Separate the remaining dough into fist sized portions. Bag individually and freeze. These can defrost in about 3 hours on the bench or 12 hours in the fridge.