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Making great pizza in a domestic environment can be tricky. The biggest problem is when it comes to cooking it and, ideally, you would have a wood-fired pizza oven capable of reaching absurdly hot temperatures. However, by using a good quality pizza stone in your oven, you can get excellent results that are almost as good as the real thing.
- For the dough:
- 150g strong white flour
- 100g plain white flour
- 3g salt
- 5g dried yeast (we recommend Doves Farm Quick Yeast)
- 170ml warm water
- For the tomato sauce:
- 400g tinned tomatoes
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
- For the topping:
- Whatever you like really... we used
- 1 tablespoon capers
- a few Kalamata olives
- a few anchovies
- a handful of grated mozzarella
Preparation Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 3-5 minutes
- To make the dough, put the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together so everything is evenly dispersed. (If your yeast needs activating in water, follow the instructions on the packet and subtract whatever water you need to use from the 170ml water listed above. Then add it with the rest of the water in stage 2.)
- Add the water and mix so it has just come together. Leave it for 10 minutes covered with cling film/plastic wrap.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it for 2 minutes until it is smooth. Lightly oil the bowl and then place the ball of dough back into it. Cover the bowl with cling-film/plastic-wrap and leave it to rise for 1 hour in a warm place until it has doubled in size.
- If you have one, place your pizza stone onto the middle shelf of your oven. Then heat your oven to as hot as it will go for about 1 hour (to thoroughly heat up the stone).
- When the dough has doubled in size, carefully remove the cling-film/plastic-wrap.
- Tip the dough gently out of the bowl onto a floured work surface, divide it into two equally sized pieces and roll them into balls. Cover the balls of dough with oiled cling-film/plastic-wrap and leave to rise until just doubled in size.
- To make the ’Pizzaiola’ (or tomato sauce to you and me), place all the ingredients for it into a food processor...
- ... and blend them. That’s it.
- Take one of the balls and gently flatten it with your finger tips into a disc.
- Using both hands gently stretch the dough at each end of the disc, turn and repeat until you have a large disc. Try not to break the dough by over stretching it otherwise the filling will pour through and make the pizza stick to the tray.
- When it is the same size as your peel or rimless tray (you can of course just put it straight onto a normal baking tray), drape it over your arm and lay it over the tray/peel. To make sure it is not sticking, gently shake the tray every now and then so it is loose. A good tip is to dust a little corn flour (maze starch) onto the tray as this will prevent it from sticking and it does not taste floury after cooking.
- Start to build your pizza. We went for the classic combination of anchovies, capers, olives and mozzarella. The trick is to not over do the toppings. You do not need too much sauce either, just enough to cover the base but you are able to see through it. A little goes a long way!
- Sprinkle the grated mozzarella over the toppings (alternatively, you can thinly slice the cheese and drape it over the toppings).
- Slide your pizza into the oven on to your hot stone (see notes) and bake for about 3-5 minutes until the cheese in bubbling all over and the crust is forming black spots. Serve immediately.
- YOU MUST GET A PIZZA STONE!!! Quite simply. And not the rather pathetic branded "pizza stones" you see for sale as they are too thin and never big enough. The best type to get is in fact a slab of granite or marble patio paving from your local hardware store. They only cost around £10.00/$20.00 and they are much bigger and thicker (which is good for holding the heat and the pizza will not fall off the end or sides). Make sure you measure your oven to find one that fits and avoid ones that have any cracks.
- The best mozzarella to use on top of your pizza is, surprisingly, the cheaper stuff that usually comes in a shrink-wrapped block. This is because it has a relatively low water content. The more expensive balls of mozzarella are too moist which can turn the pizza soggy.