It's 6:03pm, we are finished with dinner, and there are hardly any dishes in my sink. I am very pleased with the results of this pizza, these cook books just seem to deliver results every time. Fresh is definitely the way to go. The crust was divine, and didn't taste like bread at all! I did roll it out too thick, as I realized later on that with the amount of dough I had I should have made three pizzas, not two. So we didn't get the thin crust pizza I had hoped for, but nevertheless it was crispy on the outside with a super soft centre. And did I mention it tasted like crust, not bread?! I am over the moon excited!
Pizza Dough, Sponge Method
250g Bread Flour
15g fresh Yeast, or 7.5g Active Dry Yeast (not instant)
8g Malt Syrup
500g Bread Flour
Sponge: Soak yeast in water for a few minutes. Add flour and malt syrup, mix into a thick, smooth batter. Ferment 4 hours at 24 C (75 F) or overnight at 18 C (65 F). This can be a little tricky in a home setting, so what I do is I preheat my oven at it's lowest setting, with water in a cake pan (for humidity) for about 3 minutes, then turn the oven off. Cover the dough bowl with plastic wrap, this way it won't dry out. Put it in the oven for the 4 hours.
Dough: When the 4 hours are up, punch down the sponge and add the remaining dough ingredients, knead (with your hands) for several minutes and ferment again at 27 C for 30 minutes.
Pizza toppings for Margherita
(the following recipe is for ONE pizza, so depending on whether you need toppings for 2 or 3, double or triple these amounts):
Prepare the tomatoes during the second fermenting, to allow them to cool down in time.
360g Fresh ripe plum tomatoes or canned Italian-style plum tomatoes
1 tbsp Olive Oil
to taste Salt
- If using fresh tomatoes, peel, seed and chop them. If using canned, chop and drain them.
-Combine the tomatoes and olive oil in a saucepan. Cook uncovered over moderate heat until the tomatoes are no longer watery, about 5 minutes.
-Add salt to taste.
6 Fresh Basil leaves, torn in half
120g Fresh mozzarella cheese, preferably buffalo-milk mozzarella
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
-Preheat oven to 500 F (260 C).
-Meanwhile, flatten the dough and roll it out into a circle (or 2 or 3!) Drape the dough over the backs of the hands and carefully stretch the circle to a diameter of 30cm (12 inches). Leave the dough thicker around the edges than in the centre.
-Flour pizza stones or cookie sheets so the dough does not stick (might not be a bad idea to also grease the cookie sheets). Lay the circle of dough on it.
-Spread the tomatoes over the dough, leaving the rim uncovered.
-Distribute the Mozzarella, Parmesan (if using) and basil over the pizza.
-Drizzle with olive oil.
-Bake in the preheated oven for 10 - 16 minutes, until the dough is browned and the cheese is melted.
I baked two pizzas at the same time, and since my oven is not a convection oven, I rotated the pizzas half way through baking.