The Baker wanted me to know that underneath the cheese and sausage bits and pepperoni slices and beneath the onions and mushrooms and green pepper dices the only thing that counted was the dough.(pizza poem by Arnold Adoff)
We don’t want to teach you how to suck eggs here. If you are looking at our site chances are you already make pizzas and make your own dough. Lots of references on the internet if you want to broaden your knowledge. But just incase you want a basic but proven dough primer here is ours. Naturally this recipy is for thin Neapolitan style pizzas. You can leave the oil out all together for true Neapolitan dough. A little oil helps “stretchability” in hard water areas.
Another thing worth a mention, not all flour is made equal! You can get many varieties of flour. From tipo flour to ordinary supermarket strong flour. They will all have a differnt personality. Experiment and decide which you like the best. Purists would say typo 00 every time of course. Caputo Pizza flour. (Caputo web site) It is mighty good flour it really is hard to beat. Its quite a slow raising dough so best to start early and give it several hours if you can. Wrights is also very good and rises a little faster so better if time is short.
You can get Caputo here. Along with many other Italian goodies!
The best tomatoes you can get your hands on, oregano and a bit of seasoning is all you need for a perfect but simple pizza sauce recipe. If you fancy add a little garlic. Use the best ingredients and you won’t go far wrong. Italian San Marzano tomatoes are considered the best tomatoes for pizza but any good quality plum tomato is ok. Of course canned tomatoes are not all the same. Some cheap supermarket canned tomatoes are bitter and metallic tasting so experiment with different brands and varieties of tomato. Aldi Premium take some beating!
How to make it:
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 400g/14 oz can of whole tomatoes, drained 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh oregano or a teaspoon of dried oregano. (basil if you prefer)
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper
1. Put the olive oil in a large pan or skillet and heat gently. A wok is ideal.
2. Keeping the heat to medium, add the garlic and cook slowly for a couple of minutes. Just release the flavours, it shouldn’t start to brown as it becomes bitter.
3. Add the tomatoes, herbs, sugar and seasoning. (Sugar is optional). Taste your tomatoes of course. Roughly chop your tomatoes in the pan with a knife or better still use a potato masher to create an even mixture.
4. Cook at a low simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes. Check the seasoning and cool before use. Kerry, Hampshire
Again lots on the internet. But briefly..
Using corse semolina, not flour to move the dough around.
- By hand flatten the dough into a 6 inch circle.
- Using your finger tips make an indentation all the way around about 2cm from the edge of dough.
- Turn over and gently stretch the dough until its about 8 inch circle.
- The fun bit, takes practice! Hand Slapping. Gently “flop” the dough from one hand to anther. It will slowly stretch. And yes its not as easy as it sounds If it all goes wrong get the rolling pin out!
The biggest potential snag with “real pizza cooking” is the base sticking to the peel. Each batch of dough is a little bit different, sometimes it’s not a problem at all, sometimes its a bit of a pain. A bit like making pancakes the first one often sticks! But you can reduce this tendency. Having made the first one the 2nd is usually less prone to stick anyhow.
- Use coarse semolina or corn meal under the dough to prevent it sticking. I will say this again SEMOLINA!! Forget flour. You will reduce any issues by 90% using coarse semolina. Its a bit like mini ball bearings that allow your dough to slide around.
- If the base sticks lift an edge and throw a little SEMOLINA underneath. Then slide the peel around a little.
- Make sure your sauce is cool before use.
- Last time use coarse SEMOLINA
- Dont let your pizza sit too long after you have assembled. It can get a little soggy and tend to stick.
- Overload your pizza, less is more. Remember its cooking fast!
Now your ready.
Give the peel a little shake to make sure the pizza is moving. The best way to place your pizza is to push your peel toward your spot, then stop it just short of the spot, allowing the pizza to slide off the peel. Pull the peel backward quite quickly as the pizza slides forward.
- Not many of us have the room for large proving boxes. We use round microwave containers or disposable salad bowls to prove the dough. 750ml is ideal. Gives a nice round shape and perfect portion control. Like mini proving boxes. After the fist proving knock it back and knead again. Divide into 4, place in containers and allow the 2nd prove.
- No proving container place on a tray and cover with a tea towel.
- Warmth! Get your dough up to room temperature before using. The warmer the dough the easier it is to work. Cold dough is harder to stretch. Really warm dough will be almost too stretchy.
- Want to keep the dough for later and no proving containers. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Place each one into an oiled freezer bag or container. You could also brush the outside of the dough with olive oil and then place it into the bag. All that matters is you stop the dough sticking.
- If you aren’t going to use them the same day, you can throw the bags/containers into the freezer. They’ll stay good in there for at least a month. Take them out the night before you intend to use them, move the frozen dough balls to the refrigerator to thaw. It won’t be as good as freshly made but still not bad.
- Remember when making dough time is a friend. Longer slower rises at reduced temperature result in a better taste. 24 hours is ideal. make your dough the day before if you can. But dont worry if you don’t have the luxury of time. This dough will still work well if only given an hour or so to rise at room temperature. Allowing pizza dough to rise is more about giving the yeast time to bring flavors out of the wheat than it is about leavening. Most of the leavening occurs when you put the active dough into the hot oven, so you don’t have to wait until the dough balls double in size. But its worth it!
- Worth a mention. If you mix vitamin C powder into your flour it acts as an improver. The French add it to baguette dough giving the very light “airy” texture. A half tea spoon to 2kg of flour is about right.