By Naomi Crisanteon 20th Jun 2014 11:16
Thin crust, thick crust? Cheese on top or on the bottom? Eat it with your fingers or a knife and a fork? Does pineapple belong on a pizza at all?
Both pizza making and pizza eating is the source of much debate, particularly as this gift from the Italians to the rest of the world, has evolved depending on where and who makes it. So, what’s the right thing to do? The answer is that when it comes to pizza, anything goes and it’s up to your own cooking creativity to make it and eat just how you like it!
For me, how I enjoy my pizza falls into three areas. I do love to make it from scratch and have the joy of watching that dough rise in my kitchen followed by the tactile satisfaction of knocking it back, rolling it out and shaping it to my liking. It’s quite therapeutic! Sometimes I need a quick homemade fix so I will rely on a store-bought pizza base or pita bread, making it my own with a unique combination of toppings and using my bench top pizza maker to cook it in minutes. Other times, a trip to my favourite pizzeria for an authentic Neapolitan-style gourmet pizza made in a wood fire oven is just what I need!
Hand making pizza is not difficult but it is messy and you do need patience and the time to do it but the results are worth it. Try my Basic Pizza Dough recipe below for starters and follow these tips for top notch pizza making:
- Always pre-heat the oven to the highest temperature and use the pizza setting if you have one.
- Use a baker’s flour or pizza dough flour that is high in gluten. For best results try Deli2Home's Polselli Classic Pizza Flour,
- Roll out the dough thinly and when lining the tray, make sure the centre is the thinnest part as it takes longer to cook.
- If the dough is hard to roll and stretch, allow it to rest for a while.
- Don’t weigh down the pizza with too many toppings as this will make the dough soggy and hard to cook.
- Use black pizza trays for a crisper base and make sure to oil them with olive oil for flavour and to help crisp the dough.
Basic Pizza Dough
2 teaspoons yeast
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups warm water
2 tablespoons Moro Selección Hojiblanca Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Combine flour, yeast, sugar and salt together. Make a well in the centre and mix in water and Moro Selección Hojiblanca Extra Virgin Olive Oil to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a covered bowl in a warm area and allow to prove until doubled in size. Knock back dough, divide into four and roll out each piece thinly to line a 30cm pizza tray. Top and bake as desired.
Toppings with Pizzazz
Once you have mastered the dough, it’s all about the toppings. Cirio tomato passata is a rich, flavoursome tomato spread perfect for the job and you can choose from the smooth Passata Verace or the more textured Rustica style. For a change, I often use pesto in classic basil, eggplant or chilli pesto flavours to spread on the base instead. Grate or thinly slice the cheese and sprinkle a little on the bottom and reserve a bit for the top. Although salami and ham are regular standbys, I like to use jamon or even chorizo for a special touch. Kalamata olives are a must but other antipasto-style toppings like artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, char-grilled capsicums and marinated mushrooms always add a bit of pizzazz!
Here are a few of different combinations to move you beyond the Capricciosa!
- Jamon, sun-dried tomatoes and bocconcini
- Chorizo, olive and char-grilled capsicum
- Pesto, char-grilled chicken and rocket
- Marinated mushroom, bacon and basil
- Salami, artichokes and chilli pesto
P.S. One of my favourite new discoveries is Saclà Capsicum, Fig and Hazelnut sauce. It makes a really tasty and easy spread on a pizza base topped with cheese and sliced meats like prosciutto, jamon or salami. Try it with prawns and rocket and a squeeze of lemon too!