Pizza

banner

This is the method my friend Julia uses to make her pizza and I love the puffy texture it achieves. If you prefer a very thin crust pizza, leave the dough to rise in the bowl for the full time and not once it is shaped for baking. As soon as you have shaped it in its tray, scatter on the toppings and bake it immediately in the hottest oven possible. These pizzas will each serve from three to six people. Or you could make all the dough, then make one pizza and freeze the rest of the dough for another time. Here are my pizzas with my three favourite toppings.

Ingredients

  • 25 g (1 oz) fresh yeast
  • 1 teaspoon runny honey
  • 500 g (4 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • a little olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 400 g (14 oz) tin tomatoes, roughly puréed
  • olive oil, to drizzle
  • ham, artichoke and mascarpone topping
  • 125 g ( oz) pizza mozzarella (well drained, if in liquid, and patted dry), roughly chopped
  • 2 thin slices ham, torn into pieces
  • 80 g ( oz) artichokes in oil, drained, or fresh artichokes (grilled, then marinated in olive oil), thinly sliced
  • 5 teaspoons mascarpone cheese

Pancetta and Rosemary Topping

  • 125 g ( oz) pizza mozzarella (well drained, if in liquid, and patted dry), coarsely chopped
  • 50 g ( oz) very thinly sliced pancetta
  • 2 small sprigs fresh rosemary

Pepper, Rocket and Avocado Topping

  • 100 g ( oz) roasted or fried red peppers (capsicums), cut into chunks (bought from a delicatessen)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • juice of half a small lemon
  • 20 g (¾ oz) rocket (arugula), any tough stalks removed
  • 10 black olives
  • tabasco sauce or chilli oil

Method

You will need 3 round pizza trays that are about 28 cm (11 inches) in diameter.

Crumble the yeast into a large bowl. Add the honey, 375 ml ( cups) warm water and about 150 g ( cups) of the flour. Mix well with an electric mixer. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or until the yeast begins to activate. Add the remaining flour and 1 tablespoon olive oil and mix in (with the dough hook of the mixer or by hand) until the dough comes together. It may be necessary to add a drop more water or flour, but the dough should be soft and sticky, not dry. Add the salt and mix through thoroughly. Cover the dough and leave for about 10 minutes.

Lightly brush the pizza trays with olive oil. Gently extend one-third of the dough into each of the trays. Don’t worry if it doesn’t pull to the edge easily (it will become easier if you leave it for a bit). Leave uncovered for about 15 minutes and then work the dough with your hands, flattening it to the edge of the baking tray. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1–1½ hours or until the dough is nice and puffy.

Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7) or to its hottest temperature. Season the tomato with salt and spread thinly over the bases, leaving a very thin border around the edge. Divide the mozzarella between two of the pizza bases, reserving a little.

To make the ham, artichoke and mascarpone topping, scatter ham pieces over one of the mozzarella-based pizzas. Scatter with artichokes and then with a little more mozzarella to prevent the ham from drying out. Dot the mascarpone over the top. Drizzle very lightly with good olive oil (or the oil from your artichokes).

To make the pancetta and rosemary topping, drape half the pancetta over the other mozzarella-based pizza and scatter with a little more mozzarella. Scatter the rosemary leaves over the top and drizzle lightly with olive oil.

To make the pepper, rocket and avocado topping, scatter the pepper over the last pizza. The remaining toppings will be added once the base is cooked.

Bake the pizzas for 10–15 minutes (depending entirely on the heat of your oven), or until the top is golden in parts and the bottom is lightly golden and firm. The two mozzarella pizzas are now ready to serve.

To complete the pepper pizza, scoop out the avocado flesh and add the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Dot the avocado over the pizza, scatter with the rocket, olives, a dash of Tabasco and a drizzle of olive oil (if you are using chilli oil, leave out the extra olive oil). Serve quickly, before the rocket looks tired.