Pizza Margherita

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    2

    pizzas

Appears in

Limoncello and Linen Water

Limoncello and Linen Water

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2012

  • About

There is something incredibly refreshing about a pizza margherita. You can’t go wrong if your ingredients are beautiful. Its lovely name comes from Queen Margherita — it is said that when she was visiting Napoli the pizzaiolo made this pizza in her honour. You can use buffalo mozzarella in place of the regular mozzarella if you like. There will be enough dough for 4 pizzas, but I have only made 2 pizzas and used the rest for La pizza fritta. If you need to keep any unused dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight, or in the freezer.

Ingredients

  • 25 g (1 oz) fresh yeast
  • just under 280 ml ( fl oz) tepid water
  • pinch of sugar
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz/3⅓ cups) bread (strong) flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 x 400 g (14 oz) tins chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • about 6 basil leaves
  • 250 g (9 oz) fresh mozzarella

Method

Crumble the yeast into a small bowl and add the water and sugar. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. When the yeast starts to bubble, pour it into the flour. Mix with your hands to get a smooth soft dough, adding a little more water or flour as necessary. Mix in the salt, then knead the dough until very smooth and elastic, at least 5 minutes. Divide the dough equally between 2 bowls (you will have roughly 400 g/14 oz in each bowl), cover each with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until well puffed.

Meanwhile, tip the tomatoes into a bowl (I like some chunks here), add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Tear 2 basil leaves in, mix through and leave aside at room temperature, covered for now. Cut the mozzarella into slices and then into small blocks, leaving it on a tilted plate at room temperature so much of its liquid drains off.

Take one of the bowls, punch down the dough and divide it into 2 balls. Cover them with a tea towel so they don’t dry out (pizzaioli keep them in a drawer) and leave to rise again for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7).

Very lightly oil two 31 cm (12½ inch) diameter pizza trays. Put a ball of dough on each tray. Using your palms and fingertips, press each ball of dough from the middle outwards, to extend it to the edges of the tray. Sometimes this is easier if you take it halfway, let it rest for 5 minutes or so and then finish taking it to the edge — it will move better after its rest. Dollop 1 cup of tomato onto the centre of each pizza (the leftover tomato is for La pizza fritta).

Using the back of the ladle like the pizzaioli do, spread the sauce from the middle outwards. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over the top and put the trays in the oven.

Bake until the edges are golden in places and the underneath of the pizza is firm, not flabby and pale, about 15 minutes. Depending on your oven, it may be necessary to swap the trays around halfway through. If you prefer you can roll out and bake the pizzas one at a time. Take out the pizzas, scatter the mozzarella over them and put back in the oven until the mozzarella melts, about 5 minutes. Serve hot, with a couple of fresh basil leaves scattered on top.