When it comes to pizza making, the secret is in the dough. This recipe will tell you all you need to know to produce the perfect light and springy base for any toppings that you wish.
The word ‘pizza’ first appeared in a Latin text from the southern Italy town of Gaeta, then still part of the Byzantine Empire, in 997 AD. The text states that a tenant of certain property is to give the bishop of Gaeta ‘duodecim pizze’ (“twelve pizzas”) every Christmas Day, and another twelve every Easter Sunday.
Dough for 6 pizzas (for friends and the freezer!)
- Strong plain white flour
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of instant yeast
- 2 ounces of olive oil
- Approx 2 cups of ice cold water
- Cornflour for dusting
(Toppings of your choice!)
Time: 20 minutes of work. 1 night of rest.
- Stir the flour, salt, and instant yeast together in a large mixing bowl.
- Slowly add the oil and the cold water whilst continuously working the dough vigorously, rotating the bowl with your free hand as you kneed. Do this by dipping your ‘dough hand’ into the water and the oil, ensuring you do not over moisten the dough. Do this until the flour is all absorbed.
- Be sure to turn the bowl in the opposite direction also to help the gluten develop even more. Continue working the dough for 10 minutes, ensuring all the ingredients are evenly spread. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky.
- Sprinkle flour on the work surface and put your dough in the centre.
- Line a pan with baking parchment dashed with olive oil. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or fewer if you want an extra large pizza). Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, dip your hands into the flour again. Put the dough balls into the pan and lightly brush with oil before sealing pan in an airtight bag.
- Put the pan into the refrigerator overnight to rest the dough, or keep for up to 3 days.
- Before letting the dough rest at room temperature, dust the counter with flour, and then mist the surface with a spray oil. Place the dough balls on top of the floured counter and sprinkle them with flour. After dusting your hands, gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle flour onto the dough, adding an extra spray of oil if necessary to keep the outside slippy. Cover disks loosely by placing some cling film over your surface.
- Wait at least 45 minutes before making the pizza and heat the oven as hot as possible. This allows the dough to
- Gently lay each disk of dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion on your hands, giving it a little stretch with each bounce. If it begins to stick , re-flour the dough and your hands, then continue shaping. If you have trouble tossing the dough, or if the dough keeps springing back, let it rest for 5 to 20 minutes so the gluten can relax, and try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, but this isn’t as good. Note: rolling can create unevenness and also pushes air out of the dough.
- When the dough is stretched out to about 9-12 inches, lay it on the baking tray which should be dusted lightly with cornflour to allow it to slide. Lightly top it with sauce and then with your other toppings.
- Slide the tray into the oven and close the door. Make sure to check on the pizza after 5 minutes or so to check if it needs turning for even baking. The pizza should take a further about 5 – 8 minutes to bake. If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the tray to a lower shelf.
- Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait a few minutes before slicing and serving, allowing the cheese to set slightly.
Pizza today, salad tomorrow…
…. Salad tomorrow, pizza yesterday…