I don’t know about you, but one of my favourite “treat” foods has to be pizza. I am not talking about the doughy and often nasty takeaway version, or the hard and mainly unpalatable frozen variety. I am talking restaurant quality or a darn fine home made version!
I have tested dough for some time in my quest to make a pizza base I was happy with. It has come down to not just technique, but also the types of ingredient. Using speciality flour has definitely made a difference. Technique changes have also made for a more tastier base!
Please note that I have placed affiliate links on some items, to help you locate items I use. It is up to you whether you choose to purchase any item.
Three pizza making items that have revolutionised my pizza’s are:-
500g Tipo type “0” flour (This link at time of writing, buys you around 10 bags for £12 – It is hard to find this flour in supermarkets, so you could go halves with a friend as a suggestion. It stores and lasts well, so I go through it all…. no shock there)
3.5g Dried Easy Bake Yeast
45g Olive Oil – I find weighing it easier
250 ml of luke warm water
Semolina or Greaseproof Paper if using the Pizza shunt/peel as per video below.
Tin of good quality tomatoes (See my photo below)
Ball of Mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves
Freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Plus any other toppings – I like red onion and mushrooms.
The first part to this recipe that I would want to advise you about is dough timing. I make the dough the night before I eat it, or early in the morning. This allows the dough to get better flavour and it really makes a huge difference!
I use my Kitchenaid mixer and this is because I love getting maximum use out of it. Plus I can be doing other things whilst it mixes the dough. I use a dough hook and speed 2 setting.
In the mixer, place in the flour, sugar, yeast to one side, salt to the other side (otherwise it can cause problems proving) and olive oil.
Then add 200mls of the water to begin with. Different types of flour absorb different levels of water. You may need only this amount or you could find yourself needing more than suggested. Go little by little. If you find the dough too wet, add a little more flour. Give the dough chance to come together though, because all of sudden it can go drier. The dough needs to be kneaded for around 10 minutes. You might have to stop your mixer once or twice, and run a spatula around the edge of the bowl. This is so all the ingredients get properly added.
After ten minutes, your bowl should be clean and the dough should be smooth and have some elasticity to it.
Using the bowl you have been mixing it in, rub a little olive oil around the bowl and place the dough back in. The olive oil helps stop the dough sticking to the sides, whilst it is proving and rising. Place some cling film tightly over top. This stops the dough getting a skin.
Then place a tea towel over the top and let it prove for around about an hour or so, until it has doubled in size. DO NOT be tempted to place in an airing cupboard or anywhere too hot. Most rooms around 21 degrees centigrade are a good temperature.
After an hour or so, when doubled in size, tip the dough out onto a floured or oiled work surface. Many people use flour, but at this stage I like to use a little olive oil on my hands and work surface as I find it stops the dough sticking. Everyone has their own preference, and this is mine. Knock back the dough. This means turning and almost pushing the air out of it again.
I then make the dough into a sausage shape and score into four.
I then cut into four pieces and roll each piece into a ball shape. I place each ball into a lightly greased tray/dish. I then cover with clingfilm and place into the fridge. I leave them overnight or all day, depending on when I have made them. As I state above, the longer the better as this gives the dough real flavour. Even thought it is in a fridge the dough is still proving but not rising.
Once you are ready to make the pizzas, I would ensure all your topping ingredients are prepped ready. Make sure your oven is heated high (240 degrees centigrade) with any pizza stone at the correct temperature. Be prepared to work quickly if you are using my method of pizza shunts/peels as per the videos below. The video will explains more. The last thing you want is your dough sticking to the pizza shunt/peel. Even if you are not using a pizza peel/shunt, you will still need to be fairly quick to stop the dough getting sticky underneath.
I roll out one pizza at a time and keep the others cool in the fridge. I use a floured surface for this part, and mainly use my hands to push the dough out. You can use a rolling pin, but I find my hands better for some reason. Make sure o rings etc, pierce the dough!
I then move on to use the pizza shunt. Here is a video is below of me using the pizza shunt.
One of the toppings is of course the tomato base. I like the way the Italians just use tinned tomatoes, but they ensure they are real good quality ones. Some of the nicest I have tried for pizza is the Cirio Polpa ones (see below). They take a tablespoon or two of the tinned tomatoes and use this as the tomato base. Do not go right to edge but leave a plain rim.
Place your pizza into the oven using your pizza shunt/peel or other method you choose to use. Depending on the topping it will take around 8 minutes to become nice and crisp. This is why the semolina at the bottom of the pizza shunt/peel and using a pizza stone is so good. Both absorb moisture which helps eliminate soggy bottoms!
Once cooked, you can slice up. I HIGHLY recommend the pizza scissors which I demonstrate below. They are my new favourite gadget.