I love pizza. I have no time for the thick spongy based pizzas you see in supermarkets with plastic toppings. I have never had the privilege of eating pizza in Naples but I would dearly love to. Perhaps in the oldest pizzeria in the world Port Alba at 18 Visa Port Alba serving since 1830. Or where the pizza Margharita was born in 1889 for the then princess, Pizzeria Brandi found in the heart of old Naples a few yards from Piazza del Plebiscito on Salita Sant'Anna di Pallazzo. The first decent pizza I had was in New Orleans in the French Quarter and then again in New York thirty years later. I knew these were nothing like Neapolitan Pizza but they were thin crispy hot and delicious. The the hunt was on to replicate this wonderful Italian peasant dish the origins of which, are lost in the mists of time.
I had tried a few times. My bases were never thin enough. A baking tray just didn't do it. Always soggy. I decided to invest in a pizza stone. Just to continue on the authenticity I bought the most wonderful book La Pizza by Nikko Amondonico. At last I managed a dough that was so thin and crispy. The amount gave enough for four pizzas. After the first rise I popped the other three in bags in the freezer ready to just roll out and put on the topping whenever I want. I was so delighted with the results. If you haven't got a pizza stone get one. An excellent investment for perfect pizzas.
25gms/10oz fresh yeast (I used 1 tablespoon of dry yeast)
250mls/9 fl.oz lukewarm water
400gms/14oz unbleached strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
Begin by making a yeast liquid.
Dissolve the yeast in 25mls(1&1/2 tablespoons) of the lukewarm water. Add about 2 tablespoons of flour. Mix to a smooth paste. Leave to rise under a cloth for 30 minutes.
Make a crater in the middle of about 350gms/12oz flour.
Pour the yeast mixture salt and the rest of the water in the hole.
Mix the ingredients together and knead for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into four and form into balls.
Leave to rise under a cloth for about two hours or until doubled in size.
Use one ball for one pizza.
Press out and flatten the dough with the palm of your hand into a thin round circle. Use a rolling in to make it really thin.
Finally press with your knuckles about 2cm inside the edge to make the raised edge (cornicone).
The pizza is now ready to be filled
A little tip from Jeanette on my foodie forum is to roll out the dough on baking parchment with polenta on it. Then just slide it onto the pizza stone. Works perfectly.
The basic tomato base is two tins of tomatoes drained and gently squashed in a colander to get rid of most of the moisture as it makes the pizza base soggy.
To this I added a clove of squished garlic, oregano, shredded basil leaves and black pepper. I made the filling while the dough was rising to let the flavours infuse.
After this it's up to you what you put on it.
I topped with lots of parmesan and mozzarella then drizzled with olive oil before placing on the pizza stone in the oven.
It is essential to put the pizza in a hot oven. Approximately 275.C/525.F. is the recommended temperature. The pizza will take 10-12 minutes. This is beyond the reach of most domestic ovens. In this case preheat the oven to it's highest temperature usually 240.C/475.F and increase the baking time by about 5-8 minutes
My oven managed to reach 260.C and as it is a fan assisted that's equivalent to 280.C and the pizza took 8 mins.
I am so glad I have finally conquered Pizza. It may not be official pizzaiola status but it tasted wonderful just the same.
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