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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pizza...from scratch...

I have made plenty a pizza dough in my day; the good, the bad and the downright unusable excuses for a pizza base have ensued.  The ingredient list remains the same each time - flour+yeast+water plus a whole lotta kneading or run it in a mixer with dough hooks.  As easy as the latter sounds it is, without a doubt that the best pizza dough has always been the one you worked up a sweat, belting it into submission.
I have usually stuck to the basic pizza dough recipe every time and as mentioned it has had mixed outcomes.  In preparation for the big Italiano catering stint for my mate's birthday, I began searching for a new recipe to try out - as I am a stickler for perfection.  As if by magic, the Tuesday newspaper (Yes! I still read a newspaper!) had a food section dedicated to pizza.  In it was a write up and recipe from a highly recommended Melbourne pizzeria with branches in Prahran and Fitzroy, Ladro.  Read the article for some tips and inspiration right here 
The recipe from can be found here for Ladro's Pizza Dough recipe. I decided to go overboard a little and started with 2 kilos of tipo 00 flour and ended up with enough dough to make pizzas for a small army.  Luckily, I turned the excess dough into pizza scrolls sweet calzones for dessert. The recipe that follows will give you about 16 dinner plate size pizza bases.  
Start with 100g fresh yeast and 100g of tipo 00 flour

Add 100ml of tepid water and mix to a smooth batter.  Allow to stand for at least half an hour and the starter will get lively and form bubbles

Lay out 2kg of tipo 00 flour on a clean counter top and make a well in the centre.  Add the yeasty starter, 3 tbsp of salt and about a litre of tepid water.  Bring the dry and wet ingredients gradually together in a circular motion  
When the dough ball forms begin to knead it with your hands.  It's a bit of a buzz when you get this dough ball behaving.  It needs about 10-15 minutes of heavy duty kneading 

Use the palm of your hand to stretch the dough away from you, then fold back onto itself and repeat all over the ball.  You are looking for a stretchy elastic consistency.  This takes time but the reward is beautiful fluffy pizza crust

Place the dough in humid and draught-free place.  The pantry worked great for this baby!  Dust with extra flour and cover with a warm damp towel.  Dough will double in size so rest it for at least an hour 
An hour and a bit later and the dough has grown and is light and springy  to the touch.  Knock out the air by  lightly punching all over

Divide the dough into 100-110g balls.  This will yield about 16 balls.  Dust with flour and cover again with a warm damp towel.  This second proving will take about a hour and the dough will be ready to roll into perfect bases

Get your toppings ready by chopping into bit sizes that will cook quickly.  Don't go overboard with toppings as the minimalist approach will showcase the dough and pizza sauce (See recipe below)

I highly recommend using pizza stones in conventional  home ovens.  In this case I used metal trays lined with baking paper because I had a lot of pizzas to get in the small oven
The mix of toppings is only limited by your imagination.  Just get the things you love on to the sauced up base and whack in the oven at maximum heat for up to 15 minutes.  Check the base to ensure it is cooked through.

With pizza that looks this good, is it any wonder that it tops my list of favourite foods.  Just slice and serve

The first batch gets the approval from the birthday boy.  So good - it's almost poetic!
The bestest pizza sauce - never buy bottled stuff ever again
It would seem incomplete if all the trouble to get to the perfect dough for your pizzas was culminated with an application of store bought pizza sauce.  This recipe has been a winner for me from the start.  It's fresh and zingy, and the proof is in the taste of a simple Margherita pizza, on which it works wonders.
Ingredients, makes enough for 16 pizzas plus leftovers, can be frozen
2 tbsp x Olive Oil
6 x Garlic cloves
2 x Bay Leaves
4 x 400g cans x Diced Tomato (Imported Italian tomatoes, if you can source 'em)
1tsp x Dried Oregano
1tbsp x Sugar
4-5 x Sprigs of Basil, leaves picked
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot 
Add the garlic and bay leaves and stir for 30 seconds
Add entire contents of the canned tomatoes
Bring to the boil then add the oregano and sugar
Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour stirring regularly so it does not burn
Sauce should reduce to about half and it will be thick and rich
Add the basil leaves in the last 5 minutes and stir through
You can use a stick blender to smooth out the sauce but I prefer it on the coarser side, use the back of a wooden spoon to crush any larger tomato pieces, if desired
Allow sauce to cool then spread it on the pizza bases and top it with your choice of faves!
Buono Appetito!

1 comment:

Tippy said...

Awesome looking pizza bro!