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Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Home Made Pizzas

My previous recipes were ones that I had done a thousand times before so there was no real challenge for me. However, today, I set out to make pizzas from scratch and yes it was challenging and scary! And I probably won't be making pizza dough from scratch ever again!

I love pizza and not the Pizza Hut kind but more the gourmet pizza with simple toppings, no fuss but still utterly delicious!

About 10 years ago my friend Sarah and I went back-packing throughout Europe. One of our first stops was Italy. Naples was our first city - the home of Pizza! With our trusty Lonely Planet guide in hand, Sarah and I found in the tiny cobbled streets of Naples.... the pizzeria who claimed to have invented pizza! Well this was our lucky day. We both ordered our own; I think from memory mine was a margherita and I can't remember what Sarah ordered. Nonetheless,  I do remember we were both bitterly disappointed. The bases were too gooey and the toppings too watery. However we didn't give up on our quest to find the perfect pizza. There is a Pizza Hut equivalent in Italy and I remember it being called Spizico Pizza (however I could be wrong!). Anyway, Spizzico Pizza has been, to date, the best pizza I have ever had! I think Sarah and I ate there for lunch pretty much everyday!!! My favourite topping was potato and so today I tried to recreate the taste of a Spizzico Pizza.

I admit that my pizza toppings were delicious however my pizza base was a little too dry and a little too thin and crispy for my liking. I'm not entirely sure where I went wrong. Did I knead the dough too much? Was there not enough dough to go around? Who knows but I am adamant that I will never make pizza dough again! In future I will buy pre-made pizza bases and make my own toppings as they were truly delicious!

So below I have listed my recipes for Pizza Patate (not misspelt, it's Italian) and Pizza Margherita. If anyone tries this pizza dough recipe and has some success, please let me know how you did it!!

Basic Pizza Dough

15g dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
4 tablespoons warm water
2 cups plain flour (plus extra for kneading)
1 egg
2 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 tsp sea salt
A splash of olive oil

Place the dried yeast into a small bowl and add the sugar and water. Lightly stir to combine. Set aside for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture starts to froth.

Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the egg, milk, sea salt and yeast mixture. Gradually work the ingredients together to form a stiff dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Oil a large bowl with a little olive oil and put the dough in it. Rub a little oil over the dough before covering it with a damp cloth. Put the bowl in a warm place for 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.

Divide the dough in half and roll it out on a floured surface. Put the dough into two oiled baking trays and add your toppings.

Margherita Topping

400g tin Roma (plum) tomatoes
250g cheese of your choice (I used a mix of mozzarella, bocconcini & parmesan)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (400f). Drain and finely chop the tin of tomatoes. Put the tomatoes in a saucepan with olive oil and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes are no longer watery. Allow to cool.  

Spread the tomato evenly over your pizza base. Season with a little sea salt and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with cheese and continue to bake until the cheese has melted. 

Potato Topping

4 medium sized potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary (fresh is best!)
Sea salt 

Peel and finely slice the potatoes. 

Arrange the slices over your pizza base and drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil. Scatter with rosemary and sprinkle with sea salt. 

Bake for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and crispy.

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