Who doesn’t like pizza? The ultimate comfort food. You can have it with just about any topping you like. For me however the topping is just part of the deal. The real secret of a delicious pizza is in the base. I must admit that it is difficult to find even a half decent pizza in the UK. Especially when it comes to take aways. Most of the time I get doughy, underbaked pizza bases soaked in grease. Definitely unpleasant. That’s why I set myself a challenge to perfect pizza dough. It took me several attempts to fine tune it but I can now happily say that this is as close to the perfection as it gets in the domestic kitchen. Pizza now features regularly in our family menu and every time it is a winner. And if you have fussy eaters you can choose the topping to satisfy each person individual preferences! You will need to start 24 hours before you bake.
Makes 4 medium pizza bases (about 23 cm each)
Equipment required: large mixing bowl with a lid (or shower cap / cling film if you don’t have a lid), pizza peel or a flat lipless baking tray, pizza baking stone or baking tray turned upside down.
- 500g Italian ’00’ flour. This guarantees best results but you can substitute it with strong white flour.
- 10g salt
- 320g lukewarm water
- 30g olive oil + extra for greasing the bowl
- 4g dry active (easy bake) yeast
For the sauce:
- 300g passata
- 1 – 2 tblsp finely chopped herbs (I like basil and oregano)
- Salt to taste
- Place the salt and flour in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the yeast and then pour in the water and olive oil.
- Knead according to the method described here. Alternatively mix on low speed for about 10 minutes if you are using mixer with a dough hook attachment.
- Form the dough in to a large ball on a work bench and grease the bowl with the extra olive oil. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with the lid (or shower cap / cling film).
- Put the bowl in the fridge for about 20 – 24 hours. This is very important step as it will greatly enhance the flavour.
- Next day start with making the sauce. Tip the passata into a deep frying pan. Mix in the herbs and put it on a medium heat for about 10 – 15 minutes stirring occasionally. When the sauce reduces by one third take if off the heat and season to taste. Set aside to cool down.
- Remover the dough out of the fridge. It should have air blisters on the surface and a noticeable fermented smell. Punch it down to remove excess of air. Lightly dust your work surface with the flour and then tip out the dough.
- Pre heat the oven to 250 centigrade with the pizza stone inside.
- Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces with a dough scraper. Roll each piece into a ball and leave to rest for about 10 minutes.
- Take one of the balls and place the heel of your hand in the centre of it and push it away from you so that it stretches the dough out. Turn the dough slightly and repeat. Keep stretching the dough until you have a roughly circular shape of about 23 cm in diameter. The edge should be noticeably thicker than the middle. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.
- Lift the pizza dough onto on a sheet of baking parchment placed on the pizza peel. Spread the tomato sauce and topping of your choice and sprinkle with topping of your choice.
- Slide the pizza onto the pre heated baking stone in the oven. Turn the heat down to 240 centigrade and bake for 10 – 15 minutes until the edges become golden brown and crispy. You can bake 2 or more pizzas at the same time if your oven is spacious enough.
Sit down facing the general direction of Italy and enjoy your home made pizza.