Serves: Makes ~3-4 large pizzas, suitable for 2 people (~6-8 people)
Approx cost: ~€5, depending on toppings
Approx calories (per slice): ~360
Approx preparation and cooking time: 150 mins
N ow who doesn’t love a good pizza? Crisp bread base, rich tomto sauce, stringy, hot, delicious cheese and about any toppings you could possibly ever desire! While Italians everywhere are probably heaving a deep, heavy sigh at this, I do enjoy trying “localised” versions of pizzas. In Sweden the “kebab pizza” is very common – pretty much a margherita pizza topped with lettuce, kebab meat, onions and chillies and kebab sauce, served with a healthy pile of tart, refreshing Pizza Salad (please excuse the horrifically bad photos!). In Japan they seem to go in for potato, sweetcorn and seafood on their pizza while in France they seem to love Crème Fraiche on their pizzas. Dominos makes a pretty darn good called a “Savoyard”. Cream cheese instead of tomato on the base, mozzarella and reblochon cheese, lardons and potatoes. Not for everyone but it’s pretty enjoyable if you pretend it’s not supposed to be a “pizza”. They seem rather similar to the Tarte Flambée in fact:
Tarte flambée is an Alsatian dish composed of bread dough rolled out very thin in the shape of a rectangle (traditionally) or circle, which is covered with fromage blanc or crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and lardons. It is one of the most famous gastronomical specialties of the region.
In any case, I’ve had a pizza stone sitting in my cupboard for some months – a gift from a friend – and I thought it was really high time I started using it so here we go. A post all about pizza! I thought I’d do it in multiple sections – the base first, then the sauce, and finally the pizza construction itself, because different sections may be useful to different people. Additionally – some words of advice in using the pizza stone – make sure you read how to handle/prepare it properly. You will always need to put it into the oven from cold, and heat it up with the oven. I also recommend getting a short handled peel because you seriously won’t want to be messing around with a billion degree piece of rock in your oven once it’s hot. Lastly, try and get some coarse ground flour – I used fine ground semolina flour. Even though it’s “fine ground” it’s still much coarser than regular flour and is perfect for dusting the board with when rolling out the dough. It provides the perfect surface for optimum “pick up” of the uncooked pizza from the surface using the peel. Click the sections below to see the various steps and photos! Have a good Thursday everyone
Part 1: The Pizza Dough
Pizza Dough Ingredients
- 600g Plain Flour
- 330ml warm Water
- 1.5 tsps dried Yeast
- 3 tbsps Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 1 handful of semolina flour or similar coarse flour for dusting
Pizza Dough Instructions
- Start by mixing 100ml of the warm water with the yeast and sugar. Mix well and set aside for about 15 minutes until the yeast has started to bubble and froth.
- Mix 1tbsp of the olive oil with the plain flour and salt and then pour in the yeast mixture and the rest of the warm water. Mix well until the mixture forms a dough. You may need to add a little more flour or water if the dough is too dry or sticky. Once it is manageable, turn out onto a floured surface and knead well for about 5 minutes.
- Return the dough to the bowl and pour over the remaining 2 tbsps of Olive Oil. Cover with a clean cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 to 2 hours.
- Normally, while the dough is rising you need to prepare your tomato sauce and toppings. If you have these all ready now then you just need to take the risen dough and punch out the air from the centre. Divide into 3 pieces and place one piece on a large surface dusted well with coarse flour, such as semolina flour. Form into a rough circle shape and then roll out using a rolling pin. If you have awesome ninja skills you can do the whole “fling the dough around your head” thing, but for the ordinary layman, I think a rolling pin will suffice Once the dough is about 4 or 5mm thick you can start laying on your toppings.
Part 2: The Pizza Sauce
Pizza Sauce Ingredients
- 5 or 6 San Marzano tomatoes, or if unavailable, 1 can of San Marzano tomatoes. Worst case scenario – 1 can of tomatoes :p
- 3 cloves of Garlic
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 heaped tbsp of Tomato concentrate
- 1 handful of fresh Basil
- 2 tsps Sugar
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
Pizza Sauce Instructions
- Peel and mince the garlic finely. Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the garlic. Don’t allow it to get caramelised or crispy. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes finely, if using fresh tomatoes. Transfer the tomatoes (or the tin of) into the pan with the garlic and stir in the tomato concentrate, sugar, salt and black pepper. Chop the basil finely and add this in. Simmer the sauce gently for about 30 to 40 minutes, stirring regularly, to ensure it doesn’t burn or stick. After this time the sauce should have reduced in volume by about 50% and be much more rich and thick. Allow to cool before transferring to the dough.
Part 3: Building The Pizza
Pizza Composition Ingredients
Anything you want… but, if you want to make one of my beloved “French specialty” pizzas with crème fraiche and so forth…:
- 1 Potato, boiled and sliced
- 3 tbsps Crème Fraiche
- 1 handful of Lardons
- 1 handful of capers
- Mozarella Cheese, grated
Pizza Composition Instructions
- At least one hour before making the pizzas, place the pizza stone into the oven and turn the oven on between 220 and 250 degrees Celsius. Experiment with different temperatures depending on your oven. Never put your pizza stone into a hot oven, and make sure you heat it for at least one hour before baking on it.
- Some people like to ransack the cupboards as they go along. I like to set it all up so it looks like a pizzeria kitchen while I’m working Transfer some of the pizza sauce to the rolled out dough and spread out so the base is covered – not too thickly – with sauce, leaving 1cm or so at the edge as the crust. Sprinkly the base liberally with cheese before adding on the potato slices and lardons. Arrange the 3 tbsps of Crème Fraiche in 4 or 5 heaps on the toppings and then sprinkle on capers. Carefully, but firmly, shove the peel under the pizza dough. If you’re using the right, coarse flour this will be quite easy. You may need to shove it under half way, gently drag the pizza back and shove it under the rest of the way, to prevent the whole thing from sliding onto the floor! Transfer to the baking stone. Rest the peel near the back of the stone and gently tilt and pull away the peel firmly. Bake for about 10 minutes, depending on the oven. Start watching it from about the 6 or 7 minutes and remove when it’s starting to look crispy and delicious! Enjoy!