Pizza 1, Pizza Italiano
Carlo & Kristine from Italy
Note from Kristine, Carlo’s wife, a school friend of my daughter Kavita.
Pizza is really easy to make and very satisfying, as long as you have a good oven. Each time you cook a pizza, it gets easier to make. When placing toppings, you can really let your artistic vein go. I learned to make pizza from my mother in-law, Carlo’s mum.
The amounts below make 3 medium sized pizzas. To make 1 pizza, it may vary from 180 to 250gm.
Cooking time can vary depending upon your toppings, but it usually takes around 5-10 minutes in a very hot oven.
Preparation time 5-6 hours.
Makes 3-4 pizzas
Temporary pictures from Mamta
Recipe rewritten by Carlos and Kristine in October 2023
300 gm. plain flour
200 ml. water at room temperature
1 gm. dried yeast
A pinch of sugar to activate the yeast
7 gm. salt
4 tbsp. tomato passata
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dry or marjoram or a handful fresh marjoram/basil/oregano leaves
1 crushed garlic clove (optional)
Salt to taste
Toppings: do not use too many toppings. Keep it light and simple
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced or cut into rings
50 gm./5oz salami/ham/anchovies, cut or torn into strips
A few mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 green or red pepper, thinly sliced
Generous sprinkling Mozzarella cheese (already grated and drained)
Warm about 50-100ml of the water and add it to the yeast, along with a pinch of sugar. Stir until the yeast is dissolved. Put aside. This will activate the yeast.
Sieve the flour into a bowl. Make a well/hole in the middle and pour all the water, the one with the yeast plus the remaining water.
Start mixing with a fork at the beginning and then with a wooden spoon. The mixture doesn’t have to be smooth; the most important thing is that all the flour and all the water is combined.
During the mixing process when the water is almost completely incorporated, add the salt and mix.
Cover this mixture with a moist kitchen towel. Let it rest in a warm place for about 30/45 minutes
After this time, put the dough on a clean surface and start to knead it by hand, folding the dough and pressing with the palm of your hand, until the dough is soft and looks smooth.
Cover it again with a wet towel and let it rest for another 30/45 minutes.
At this point, weigh the dough and decide the size/weight for each dough ball. Based on the number of pizzas and shape of pizzas you are going to make, you will need between 180-250g for 1 round pizza per person or a larger rectangular one for a couple of people to share.
The balls must be made by folding the dough from the top edge to the bottom centre in a way that allows you to have a perfect round and sealed top, with a closure at the bottom.
Put the dough balls on a tray, with some distance between them, covered with a moist/humid towel and allowed to rest in a ‘not too warm not too cold’ until they double in size (between 3 to 4 hours should suffice). N.B. We discovered that the same recipe made in Rome during winter, and made in Calabria in the height of summer changed the rising process considerably. So, beware!
The mozzarella cheese that you will use later, must be dry (without liquid) so it is better to cut it just after you leave out the dough balls to rise, so it can drain until you need it.
Once the dough balls have risen, you are ready to flatten and shapen them as you need. To do this, use flour, both on the rolling surface as well as on the dough ball. This will stop it from sticking to your hands or the rolling pin.
Remember that you can shape the dough in 2 main different ways:
Roman style pizza, you have to use a rolling pin to flatten and roll out the pizza thinly and evenly all over, to let’s say 2/3 millimetre.
Neapolitan style pizza, you have to use your hands and not a rolling pin. Flatten the pizza from the centre to the outside borders, using your fingertips at the centre and pressing/widening it slowly outwards. Remember that the edge/border (about 3/4 cm thick) should not be squashed. Leave it untouched. The middle part of the pizza will be very thin (like the roman style pizza, while the edge will be quite thick, between 1 and 2 cm thick.
For the topping :. Do not exceed in toppings, a good pizza has a very thin layer of tomato sauce with a drizzle of good olive oil and a pinch of salt, then the topping of your taste and then mozzarella cheese on top. Too many toppings will make your pizza soggy – Place your ingredients in order of cooking times. If you put too many toppings, the base won’t cook and the edge will burn.
For the toppings, use your imagination, but please avoid chicken and pineapple.
Here are some ideas below.
If you want to prepare a white base pizza (without tomato sauce), put the mozzarella on the pizza base at the beginning of the cooking time with a good amount of olive oil.
Otherwise, for a usual pizza, spread the tomato paste/passata thinly on the pizza dough base.
Put the toppings on in order of cooking time:
Finely sliced fresh mushrooms, green peppers, onions, thin slices of ham or chopped up sausage. Leave the mozzarella cheese for now.
Since you will probably cook in an electric or gas oven, with a tomato base, it is best to put the mozzarella near the end. Watch the pizza with its toppings cook and when you start to see the edges of the pizza begin to gain a little bit of colour, you can take the pizza out of the oven, add the mozzarella and then put it back in the oven for few more minutes, until the mozzarella is melted.
For the first few minutes of cooking, put the pizza on a lower shelf of the oven. After you put the mozzarella cheese on top, for the last 4-5 minutes, put it on a higher shelf of the oven.
Experiment… once you are happy with a pizza, change something and see how it goes! Good luck and happy pizza!!!