Pizza

I know, I know, no pic. Boo hiss etc.  I’m busy you know, Mr Important, that’s me. Will do a shot in due course.

Here’s the thing about making pizza – people think it’s scary. You see the Italians throwing the dough around and you think to yourself “fuck me, I can’t do that”. Well you don’t need to chuck it around like a show-off Italian stallion, you just need to give it a bit of a stretch.

Makes about 4 medium sized pizzas

200 grams of strong white bread flour
400 grams of Italian “00” flour (you can get this from most supermarkets, it’s called either 00 or sometimes “sauce flour”
390 grams of water
60 grams of decent olive oil
10 grams of salt
3 heaped tsp of leaven
bag of fine semolina

Put your 3tsp of leaven into a large bowl and add all the water and olive to it. Mix well
In a seperate bowl mix your dry ingredients together
chuck your dry stuff into the wet and mix well with a fork or a spoon, or a credit card or whatever. Make sure it’s fully combined. Your dough will be quite wet at this point, much wetter than “normal” bread dough. It’s supposed to be like that, don’t panic Mr Mainwaring.

cover it with a cloth and leave it for ten minutes
lightly oil your work surface and knead it for ten seconds using the kneading method on the “your first recipe” page. Clean out your bowl and dry it, then oil it lightly.
put your dough back into your bowl and cover and leave for ten minutes
knead again
cover for 10 mins
knead again
cover for 30 mins
knead again
leave for an hour and knead again

then cover it tightly with cling wrap and put somewhere cool (not the fridge)

leave it alone for 24 hours. In other words, make it one evening after dinner, to eat the piza the next evening

pre-heat your oven to full whack and make sure there is a solid, upturned metal tray in there, or better still a baking stone
lightly flour your surface, weigh the dough and split it into 4 (or 3, or even 2 if you’re a glutton)

form them into balls and cover them for 10 minutes

take a big piece of stiff cardboard (big enough to fit one pizza easily) and dust it liberally with fine semolina. Not enough semolina and it’ll stick, and then you’ll be in the shit, too much and it’ll stick as well, so don’t go mad. Think of a very light coating of icing sugar on a cake, that’s what you want. If you want to be Mr (or Mrs) SuperPonce use a “peel” from a baking supplies shop. Since I am a ponce, I use a peel I bought in France (get me), as it’s made of wood, hence stiffer than cardboard. Whatever you use, it MUST be stiff and not floppy (no sniggering at the back)

Doing this one pizza a time, flatten out one ball of dough until you have a disc. Then stretch it out with your hands, turning it all the time. It’ll resist, a lot. Just keep on stretching and it’ll start to slacken. Make it as thin as you can without tearing it – if it does tear, ball it up and start again, and don’t throw it through the window in frustration.

When it’s stretched out to a size you like, place it on your cardboard. It won’t be a perfect circle, but then proper pizza isn’t; the shape doesn’t matter one bit.

Now you’re ready to add your ingredients to it. So you’ll need some tomato based sauce, smear it really thinly over the base, but leave about a centimetre around the edges. then pout your cheese on (don’t use buffalo mozarella, it doesn’t melt properly, so use cows milk mozarella, then add whatever else you want but DO NOT, under the threat of a serious beating, overfill your base because if you do, it won’t crisp and will have a soggy bottom, like you’ll have when I’m done beating you.

So you’ve loaded up your base – if you’re using basil don’t put it on now you muppet, it’ll burn in the oven. Tear it up then put it on when it’s cooked.

Drizzle it with olive oil, and you’re ready to rock n roll. Take your cardboard, open the oven door, and sort of WHOOSH the pizza on to the metal tray/baking stone. Think of when a magician rips a table cloth from a fuly laden table and all the glasses and cutlery remains in place, it’s that kind of action – a thrust forward and a fast pull back (yeah yeah, get your mind out of the gutter), all in one motion. Your dough should shoot on to your tray/stone. Shut the door quickly and time it for 4 minutes-ish. Keep your eye on it because it’ll burn quickly if you’re too late. When its cooking, make another so it can go in immediatlely the other comes out.

This is what I mean by “WHOOSHing” it in to the oven – no expense spared, Scorcese eat your heart out

Your sauce – don’t go to this trouble and then add sauce from a jar, or I’ll have to kill you. Get a load of cherry tomatoes and roast them slowly in the oven  (about 160 for 2-3 hours) with a whole, cut-through-the-middle head of garlic, with everything drizzled in olive oil, splash or two of red wine vinegar, pinch of sugar, some S&P.  They’re done when they collapse.  Allow to cool, then whizz up in a processor. It’ll go a slightly orange colour.

So that’s it, your very own pizza!

**important** – your oven absolutely has to be on the highest temp it can go to. You must have either an upturned (rigid) metal baking tray in there already, or a baking stone. Don’t waste money by buying a so called “pizza stone”, just nip down to a kitchen fitters and buy a half to three quarters of an inch thick piece of granite from a worktop offcut.  As them to polish it but not seal it

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One response to “Pizza

  1. I have had loads of fun with this recipe!
    As an addition I have been cooking the pizza on the stone in the bbq. The same amount of cooking time is required, just put the stone in first, close the lid and let it get really hot and then shove the pizza on and close the lid. It gives the pizza a really crispy base and is definitely the closest thing to authentic Italian pizza I have made so far.

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