Yesterday I made my first from-scratch pizza. I've made pizza at home before, but using a ready made base from the store. Not only does it save money, but I got great satisfaction from making something from scratch! I'm not actually a big fan of pizza from big chains like Dominos or Pizza Hut. I find their pizzas too fatty and salty. The best pizzas I've ever tasted have come from a traditional Italian pizzeria.Their toppings are very basic and focus on simple, fresh ingredients and herbs. Now that is my ideal pizza!
The following recipe is for two thin crust pizza bases.
4 cups flour
1 package/7g dry active yeast in 1 of warm water
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
Add dry yeast to warm water and set aside for 5 minutes. In a large bowl add flour, sugar, olive oil and salt and combine with a wooden spoon. Add yeast and water mixture and stir till it forms a dough. Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead for about until smooth and elastic (about 6-8 minutes). Good arm workout and a good time for thinking! Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and turn once to coat top surface of dough with grease. Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough has doubled in bulk (about 1.5 - 2 hours). When dough has doubled in size, punch down, and let rise 20 minutes more.
Preheat pizza stone in oven for at least half and hour at 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit. Place dough on kitchen bench and roll out with a rolling pin to make base. I found it easier to knead and roll the dough into a ball before I attempted to roll it out. Take the pizza stone out of the oven and spread a little cornmeal on the stone. Flop the base on top so it's centered and then form a crust with your fingers by gathering up the dough that's overflowed the edge of the stone and pinching it. Be careful with this as the stone is rather hot! Top the base with whatever you wish. Yesterday I had tomato paste, Bocconcini mozzarella, Parmesan and torn basil leaves. In an ideal world you would do all the preparation of the base and toppings on a pizza paddle and then slide it onto the stone while it's in the oven, but I don't yet have one so I have to take the stone out of the oven and just make sure I don't burn myself.
- I've discovered the dough was nicer if I made the dough the night before and left to rise a little further in the fridge once you've done the initial rise in a warm place.
- If you don't need two pizzas, put half the dough in a container, lightly covered in oil and then freeze. From reading around, fresh dough only lasts about 3-5 days depending on whose opinion you ask for. Frozen dough is still awesome and I think it's almost better than fresh dough sometimes!
- The consistency of this dough is crispy thin base with a chewy crust.
Some of my favourite toppings:
- Low fat ricotta cheese mixed with 2Tbsp tomato paste spread on base, chopped red onion, sliced cherry tomatoes + mushrooms + eggplant tossed in a little olive oil, torn basil leaves, grated Parmesan, chopped feta.
- Home made basil pesto (big bunch of leaves + 1/3 cup cashews + 1 tsp crushed garlic + olive oil) spread on base, chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped red onions, sliced bocconcini mozzarella, grated Parmesan, sliced black olives