Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pizza Night

I started making pizzas from scratch about two years ago, but ever since a trip to Sicily last year - during which pizza was eaten almost every day - I've been aiming for thin, Italian style crusts and more inventive toppings. All experiments really should end with a fresh pizza, don't you think?

You'll want to plan ahead just a little bit on this one, in order to give the pizza dough adequate time to rise - at least an hour.  I adapted this recipe from Jamie Oliver:

For the pizza dough, you'll need:

(Makes 3 thin 12x12in pizza crusts)
  • 330g Tipo "00" pasta flour
  • 7g dried yeast
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoon olive oil
  • 220ml warm water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
  • dried rosemary to taste (I like a lot of rosemary!)

What to do:

Combine the yeast, sugar, warm water, and olive oil in a smallish mixing bowl. Give this a light whisking and leave for a few minutes to give the yeast time to wake up.

In a separate, larger, mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sea salt, garlic powder, and rosemary. I like a lot of rosemary, so I generally use at least 1/2 tbsp. I find this amount pleasantly noticeable, but not overwhelming. Use more or less depending on your personal preference.

After leaving the yeast mixture for about 5 minutes (you should notice a little bit of froth), pour it into the flour mixture. Start mixing the wet and dry together with a fork, then progress to hand kneading once the consistency starts to look more dough-like. Continue until you have one big ball of pizza dough.

Leave the ball of dough in a floured bowl, cover with a cloth, and place in a warmish area - or just somewhere useful in your kitchen. It is rarely warm here, so I technically skip that recommendation most of the time, and my pizza dough still turns out well! Leave for at least an hour.

As you're waiting, you can ready your toppings.

Toppings needed for a Tribute to Taormina Pizza:

  • tomato sauce (between 100-150g per pizza, usually)
  • 2 vine tomatoes
  • asparagus tips
  • orange bell pepper
  • Parma ham (or not, vegetarians!)
  • grated cheese (Someone else here likes Emmental cheese, so we use that a lot - it's not normally my favorite, but it does well on this pizza. You're welcome to use whatever cheese you'd like/have on hand!)
  • rocket

Tasty veggies!

What to do (part 2):

To prepare your toppings, you should chop the bell pepper and tomatoes into smallish chunks. I recommend lightly steaming the asparagus. 

After about an hour, your pizza dough will be ready. The dough should have doubled in size. 

Preheat your oven to 200C/390F.

Knead the dough a bit to knock the air out of it. Next, lightly flour a surface, and take about 1/3 of the dough ball from the bowl. This will be your pizza base. I recommend using a floured rolling pin to work out the dough. Roll out the dough until it is about 1/2cm (or 1/4in) thick. Transfer onto a lightly oiled baking sheet and pop into the oven for 2-3 minutes.

Take the dough out of the oven, and spoon the tomato sauce over it, spreading evenly. Then arrange your toppings,

Aesthetically pleasing configuration of veggie toppings.

Sprinkle cheese over the toppings,

I like cheese (maybe a little too much), but a thin layer of cheese works best with this pizza.

Then put the decorated pizza back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes. I usually keep an eye on the pizza, and remove it once the cheese is nicely melted and the ham looks just a little crisp on the edges (this may be a socially unacceptable way to eat Parma ham, but man, is it tasty!).

Back in the oven you go, pizza!

Remove from the oven, cut into slices, and sprinkle with rocket. Candles and "business juice" optional.

Pizza date time!

What is your favorite kind of pizza? Any unusual toppings or sauces? I plan to try to replicate a broccoli pesto pizza (also from the Sicily trip) soon. 

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