Pizza is one of the greatest discoveries that humanity has made, I thank Napoli and Italy from my heart. I have eaten many different takes on pizza in my life, but once you eat an authentic Italian pizza is very difficult to return to Dominos or Frozen Pizza. The truth is that pizza, along with much Italian cuisine is at its best when its kept simple and made with fresh quality ingredients. I want to share with you a recipe I learned to make great tasting pizza at home in the oven.
Napoli will always be the true home of pizza, they have perfected the art and not many can even come close, making pizza is really in their blood, the tradition has been caressed through the generations. The pizza there is just on a whole new level, much like the taste of coffee in Napoli. I don’t know how they manage it, but they do. The best pizzerias in the city only serve two types of pizza Marinara and Margarita. They stick to the basics and something incredible emerges from the wood-fired oven.
In Italy, many houses have a wood-fired pizza oven either built into the kitchen or stand alone in the garden. It provides the perfect opportunity to host a pizza party and prove your pizza making skills. During my time in Sardinia last year, we hosted many pizza parties, and I soon inherited a perfect pizza recipe. However, when I’m in the UK I don’t have access to a wood-fired pizza oven, so I have adapted the recipe for the oven. This is a recipe for 4-5 margarita pizzas.
The Pizza Dough
- Strong White Flour 200 g
- 00 Flour 400 g
- Water 300 ml
- Extra virgin olive oil 1 Tablespoon
- Salt 12g
- Dried Yeast 30g
Pizza Sauce And Toppings
- Italian Passata 400 g
- Dried oregano 1 Tablespoon
- Salt 1 Teaspoon
- Fresh Basil to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil to taste
The Pizza Dough
- To prepare the pizza Margherita, begin by making the basic dough. Pour the water at room temperature into a pitcher, add the yeast and stir with a teaspoon so that it dissolves and reacts with the water
- I have chosen to knead by hand but if you can also you a mixer if you have one. In a fairly large bowl mix the two flours. Then add the salt and gradually stir in the water with the yeast.
- Continue working the dough with your hands until you get a smooth result. At this point add also the oil, always little by little. Continuing to knead so the oil becomes absorbed by the dough. Then transfer the mixture onto a surface and work it vigorously for 5-10 minutes until it is elastic and smooth. Make sure that you have Italian music playing to help with this process.
- Bring the dough to a sphere shape, and place in a bowl. Cover the bowl with a cloth and place the dough in a warm place. I recommend leaving it to rise for 3 hours, it will raise at different times depending on the temperature, and time of year. The volume of the dough should increase two and a half times.
- When the dough is leavened tip the dough out onto a clean floured surface. Cut the dough into 4 or 5 pieces.
- Carefully work each of the four pieces of dough by bringing it towards you and then moving it away repeatedly until you obtain a smooth and regular ball.
- Place the doughs on the side to rest and rise again, make sure you cover with a cloth.
- Once, the dough is ready I like to keep them in the fridge, as it allows you to roll out the dough with greater ease later on.
The Pizza Sause
I think pizza sauce tastes best when it is cooked slowly for a long time. Some recipes will prepare the sauce without cooking but I think cooking help infuse the sauce with the herbs and the passata becomes sweeter. If you like garlic then you can add it into the sauce.
The sauce is one part of the pizza that is often overlooked, take your time with it and keep tasting until your happy with it. Don’t forget to add salt.
- Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a pan, followed by the passata. Continue to stir occasionally, you want the sauce to thicken through the cooking process.
- Add your herbs, remember dried herbs are four times stronger than fresh herbs but nothing beats fresh herbs.
- Continue to cook for over 30 minutes on low heat.
- Let the sauce cool down, then place into the fridge until you are ready to use.
Forming The Pizza
The moment has come to bring all of the elements together to create your pizza. You can always experiment with different toppings, just don’t share them when you are walking around in Napoli. If you put too much cheese it could create a soggy pizza base, as an oven cannot cook as well as a wood-fired pizza oven. A wood-fired pizza oven can cook a pizza in a matter of minutes with the temperature reaching 400 degrees, whereas a household oven can only reach about 250 degrees.
- Firstly, strain the water from the mozzarella, this is very important as you do not want a soggy pizza.
- Preheat the oven. In my experience every oven is different. In my case, I cook the pizza at 250 degrees, which is the highest setting which has worked best for me. The first time you try the recipe, please pay close attention to make sure the pizza doesn’t burn.
- Take the dough from the fridge, and roll out the first pizza base. Place the dough on the bed of flour, and slowly roll it out keeping a circular shape. (this is an authentic rustic pizza, so don’t worry if it’s not a perfect circle) I try and roll my pizza to 4mm. Keep turning the dough to keep the shape.
- Add the pizza sauce consistently around the dough, not too much and not too little. I recommend 3-4 tablespoons per pizza.
- Add the mozzarella, onto the top of the pizza (you can add the cheese halfway through the cooking time if you don’t want it to cook to golden.
- Place on a tray, and place near the top of the oven.
- Cooking time is from 12-17 minutes, it depends on many factors, such as the thickness of the pizza, the toppings, and the oven. Please watch carefully, at least for the first pizza. The best results happen when you cook each pizza one at a time. When the pizza is in the oven you can prep the other one ready to go in.
- Allow the pizza to cool before serving. Don’t forget to a couple of leaves of basil on top, and a drizzling of olive oil.
Enjoy your pizza. Buon Appetito.
Let me know how you get on, I would love recommendations for toppings and also improvements on the recipe.