Another savoury recipe, Sara? What’s going on with you?!
Well, it’s the first one in English! And it’s an Italian classic! And it’s bread related! So deal with it, you are all going to like it. It’s PIZZA TIME!
We are now entering the realm of breads. I am a bit of a novice here, and pizza is the only preparation I know by heart (my genes have also to do with this, possibly).
I remember being a kid and having pizza on a Sunday night, during “Drive in”. I remember the smell of the yeast, the flour, the tomato sauce and the oregano. I was so surprised the other day, at the course, when people were very intrigued by fresh yeast, such a normal thing for me. I love bread, the thing I miss the most, food-wise, in Ireland. I have a couple of sour doughs left in France and Italy, and I am about to start a new one here. At some point during my teenage years, when asked what I wanted to be when I would grow up, I used to say “panettiera” (baker, but specifically, bread baker… now I know better and I am fully aware that is maybe too much sacrifice for me). Bread is something that never ceases to amaze me, and pizza is a good introduction to that world. You can’t do it wrong.
1 kg Plain Flour
600 gr warm water
7 gr dry yeast / 17 g fresh yeast
60 gr olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
With these quantities, you can either make 4 medium-sized thin pizzas or fill two oven trays with a lovely layer of thick pizza, whichever you like the best.
Using fresh yeast, we are putting into our dough something that it’s actually alive. In order to check that, we create a little pre-ferment adding the yeast, the sugar, the warm water and one tablespoon of flour to a bowl. First, we add the yeast, then a little bit of sugar. We mix them together adding the water little by little. The yeast will melt. We add then the flour and we mix. Flour is yeast’s food 🙂
We can now leave this mixture for 2 hours (up to a whole night), basically allowing the yeast to flourish. This step is not necessary, but preparing a little pre-ferment helps in creating more flavour for our dough. You can leave the dough there for as long as you please. You can use the whole of the water or you can use a little bit (for example the so called poolish is made by one part of water and one part of flour). If you are impatient, just wait until you start to see bubbles surfacing up. That means that the yeast is alive and well, and you can start the dough straight away (this is called the direct method). Not a big deal! The good thing about bread making is that you can use the method you prefer according to your needs. Pizza is still going to be lovely.
Once we are ready to go with the pre-ferment, we can start mixing. We create a little space in the middle of the bowl and we add the yeast and the water (if we have any left) little by little. With a claw movement, we bring the dough together. We add the oil and at last the salt (if you add the salt at the beginning, chances are that you could be killing the yeast). Once we have it together, we flour the surface of the table lightly and we start kneading. This is a pretty wet dough. Try not to add too much flour, since we want a very light and elastic ball. You should be done in 15 minutes approx. (but it could take longer!). The dough will be ready to prove if, when we poke it gently with our finger, the surface of the ball is elastic and it springs back. Like this!
We can now leave the dough a couple of hours to prove. Notice that the proofing time depends on the characteristics of your house. If you live in Winterfell, it is going to take longer, maybe up to three hours or more. If you live in a warmer environment (ideally around 26-28 degrees), the dough might be ready in less than two hours. Just keep an eye on it. When it’s doubled in size, we are ready to prepare our pizza : )
If you decide to prepare 4 individual pizzas, just divide the dough in 4 balls. If you decide to divide them in trays, only 2. Spread the dough to a rounded shape (I am really no pizzaiolo, so do your best, as we all do), or put it on the oiled tray and spread it with your fingertips until it reaches the edges of it (it can take some time, since the dough will be very flexible and at the beginning it will bounce back a little). It’s time then to use a generous amount of tomato sauce and the ingredients we prefer. Sergeant Lunch, the King of Flavour, puts herbs directly into the tomato sauce. You can use basil, oregano or whatever you prefer, and salt and pepper, of course. I also suggest you use packed mozzarella cheese, the one you find already grated, because of its low water content (basically, your pizza won’t be a soggy mess). After that, you are free to experiment. Ham, chorizo, onion, peppers, artichokes, olives… Whatever you prefer. BUT PINEAPPLE. That is forbidden. Nah, it’s really not, if you like it, use it. 🙂
The final result, depending on how you want your pizza, can be something similar to this: