If someone had registered the name ‘pizza’ and patented the technique back in 1889, there would be one extended family living very comfortably by now.
It was the cook Esposito who first made the definitive version of mozzarella, tomato and basil at the Palazzo Reale di Capodimonte in Naples – home of the pizza.
He served his ‘Margherita’ to the queen of the same name. The day was June 15.
Although extremely good pizzas or ‘pizze’ can be found outside of Naples, you should keep this to yourself when you visit the city.
If you’ve never made pizza dough, this recipe is a good place to start.
It makes 2 x 30cm round pizza and will feed 4 hungry people.
1 packet dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
4 cups white flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
Pour the warm water in a large mixing bowl.
Add the sugar and yeast.
Stir the mixture until dissolved.
Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes to let the yeast mature.
Add the salt and olive oil and stir again to combine the ingredients.
Add 1 cup of flour and whisk in until dissolved.
Add the second cup of flour and whisk it in.
Add the third cup of flour and combine. By now the dough mixture should be fairly thick.
Add the last cup and flour and, with your hands, begin to combine and knead the dough.
You may need to add a dusting of flour from time to time to reduce the stickiness of the dough.
When making pizza dough you’re going to have to knead the dough for between 5-8 minutes on the tabletop.
Put a piece of thick plastic down and knead it on that to make it easy to clean your working surface later.
You’ll know the dough is ready when the ball no longer sticks to your hands.
It will become a smoothly-textured ball slightly larger than a large grapefruit.
Coat the dough ball with a thin layer of olive oil, and place it in the bottom of a large mixing bowl which has also been coated on the inside with olive oil.
Cover tightly with plastic and set it in a warm place such an as un-lit oven or my favourite place, especially with winter upon us is between the blankets on the bed with the electric blanket on low so that it lets the dough rise.
It will take about 1 to 1 ½ hours for the dough to rise, depending on how warm the environment is.
It will be ready when it’s twice the size you started with.
Take the dough out of the bowl and cut in half with a knife.
You now have two pizza dough balls, enough to make two 2 x 30cm pizzas.
Take each raw dough portion and hand-mold them into balls.
Smoothing the outer surface, tuck each ball into itself from underneath.
You need to “proof” the dough balls again at this point.
They can be set in a bowl or plastic tray, covered, to “rest” for an additional 15 or 20 minutes in a warm place.
Some recipes call for up to an additional hour of rising, but for practical purposes, pizza dough does not have to be put through a complete second rise cycle.
Stretch out the dough, place on a well oiled baking tray and top with a tomato pizza base, mozzarella cheese, ham, bacon, pepperoni, mushrooms, capsicum, olives or any topping that takes your fancy.
Bake in a hot oven of 450C for about 3-5 minutes until the dough is crisp.
Storing your pizza dough:
If you wish to store the dough, by either freezing or refrigeration, you can place the dough balls in zip-lock bags.
Squirt a little olive oil into each of the bags to keep the balls moist and pliable and to ease removal when ready for use.
If you choose to freeze or refrigerate, the dough balls may continue to rise until they are substantially cooled down or frozen, which is OK as long as they don’t break out of their bags.
If they do, mould them back down into balls and re-bag them.
Preparation time : more than 30 minutes
Never buy pizza again! This alternative is quick, easy and very tasty!
2 cups plain flour
1 x 8 g sachet of dry yeast
1 teaspoon caster sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup warm water
- Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl and add oil and water.
- Mix to a soft dough.
- Knead on a floured surface until soft and pliable.
- Return to the mixing bowl and cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm spot for 30 mins. Dough should double in size.
- When it has risen, ‘punch’ the dough once to remove air bubbles.
- Remove from bowl and knead gently for 1 minute
- Roll the dough out to desired size and add favourite toppings.
I make one pizza out of this, but my pan is quite large and I roll the dough fairly thick. Depending on how thin or thick you like you pizza base, you may get more than one pizza.