Pizza anyone?

by - Saturday, July 05, 2014

There is nobody I know who would answer this simple question with a no and the ones that do are simply not my friends (no, seriously!). Do you want to know why I'm such a pizza lover? Then keep reading! 

Pizza is one of the most versatile things you can have for a meal. It can be customized down to the last ingredient (yes, you read that right!) based on each person's preferences, making it accessible to everyone, meat lovers, vegetarians and vegans alike! 

I won't bore you with the history of pizza (but I will suggest you follow the link and go have a quick reading), but let me share the etymology of the word. The true origins of it are uncertain but I want to mention three possible ones: 

  • the Latin verb pìnsere ("to press"), describing the kneading of the dough,
  • the Greek word pitta (derived from ancient Greek pēktos, meaning "solid"), 
  • the Latin word picea, which describes the blackening of bread in the oven.

Apparently the ancient Greeks covered their bread with oils, herbs and cheese and later on Romans took over the idea and developed placenta, a sheet of dough topped with cheese and honey and flavoured with bay leaves. That means generations upon generations throughout the course of history eating the simple and tasty miracle pizza is. Which also means it's imprinted on my genes to love the damned thing! But enough with the blabbering already!

The most important part in a pizza is the dough and I have a fail safe recipe to share with you.

Ingredients (makes 2 large pizzas, 4 normal or 6 small)

  1. 7g. of dried yeast (a sachet)
  2. 1/2 tablespoon of sugar
  3. 325ml lukewarm water
  4. 1/2 tablespoon of salt
  5. 400g plain flour (even better if it's strong white bread flour)
  6. 100g finely ground semolina flour


Add your yeast and sugar to the water, mix it lightly and leave it aside for a few minutes to allow the yeast to activate. Sieve the flours in a bowl or a clean surface and make a well in the middle. Pour the yeast mixture and using a fork in a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour in the well. Continue to mix until the dough comes together. When it gets hard enough, ditch the spoon, flour your hands with semolina and get ready for some fun. Here comes the kneading! 
Now I won't pretend being the most experienced kneader. I do sometimes get tired and stop after about 5 minutes, but I pay the consequences, my dough doesn't rise as much as I like it (for those of you not Greek out there, the "traditional" Greek dough style is similar to Chicago's, deep pan, which requires a fully proven, springy dough). But in order to help you understand the whole process of kneading and how-to, click here.
When you're done kneading cover your dough with cling film and leave it aside to prove for about 15-20 minutes, you will notice that the dough will double in size. Knead it again for about 2 minutes to knock back the extra air and then divide it as many times as the pizzas you're making. Dust your surface with semolina and roll out your dough to the thickness that you like (keep in mind that it will rise a bit more while baking). Place it on top of a piece of tin foil that you have previously rubbed with some olive oil and dusted with some semolina. Your pizza base is now ready, now all you have to do is choose your toppings!

Notes to keep in mind: Most important thing for your yeast to activate properly is the temperature of the water to be between 30ºC to 40ºC. Anything below will make the activation process too slow and anything above will kill the yeast completely. Also, although you can completely skip the salt if you want (I will suggest you don't), you need the sugar to help with the activation. 

For the tomato sauce all I do is a typical Neapolitan sauce that I prepare before I get to start with the dough and store it in the fridge after liquidizing it, because your sauce needs to be cool when you spread it on top of your pizza base. While you're adding your toppings of choice, preheat your oven to 220ºC for 10 minutes and then cook the pizza until it's golden and crispy, usually for about 10 minutes.

And that's it! That's all! It may sound intimidating to some, but believe me, it's easy to make. Expect not to make the perfect dough from the first time you try (unless you get beginner's luck), but it takes some practice before you get to understand its needs better. 
As for the toppings I personally like, I usually go for tomato, corn, peppers, mozzarella, mushrooms and chorizo.

I really hope you enjoyed this post, let me know in the comment section below if you've given it a try!

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