The best homemade pizza

Pizza is one of my favourite things on the planet, however despite this, I have put off making homemade bases for so long. Mostly because I thought that it would take forever to make and then not taste great (I have high standards when it comes to pizza). However, when I used this pizza recipe I was surprised by how easy and simple it was to make (it does take a few hours for the dough to rest, but the effort is minimal). The results were also divine- my family thought it tasted like pizza from Pizza Express (which is my absolute favourite pizza place) so I thought that I needed to share this with you ASAP.

The recipe I used was from Gennaro Contaldo (see below), theres also a video where you can watch him make it (he will make you laugh). The key is to add semolina to the pizza bases, to give that crumbly crust.

I prepared the toppings whilst the dough was proving. This time I used these combinations:

  • Griddled courgette, griddled asparagus, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, red onion, black olives, mozerella, garlic oil
  • Salami, chorizo crumbs, rocket, mozerella, DOP cheese (an italian cheese), garlic oil
  • Proscuitto, black olives, rocket, parmesan cheese shavings
  • Crumbled sausage, red onion, mozerella, Gran Milano cheese, parsely

Ingredients: (makes 4)

For the dough:

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 7g dried yeast
  • 1g semolina (from all major supermarkets- trust me, makes SUCH a difference, so worth getting)
  • 325ml luke warm Water
  • Plain flour, for dusting the surface (if not you can just use some of the bread flour for this)

For the toppings:

  • Tomato passata (usually I just use tomato passata that you get in the large jars in supermarkets)
  • Any toppings you want
  • Cheese (I would suggest getting 2 cheeses- I like mozerella on the bottom of all pizzas, then add the toppings, then put grated parmasan on the top- so there are 2 different flavours. However, you can always just use regular cheddar. You can also use vegan cheese, if vegan)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (to drizzle on top)IMG_4556

Method:

  1. Add the yeast to 325ml lukewarm water and stir to dissolve.
  2. Mix the flour and salt into a large bowl.
  3. Slowly add the yeasty water to the flour + salt. Mix well with your hands, until you get a rough dough. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour.
  4. Shape the dough into a large ball, then cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Put a lot of plain flour on your kitchen surface. Empty the dough on the surface. Knead the dough with the palm of your hand, for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. You may need to keep adding flour to the surface if the dough is starting to stick. If you are unsure on how to knead the dough, then watch the video link above in the intro.
  6. Then, split the dough into 4. Knead each piece for a couple of minutes, then roll each piece into a ball shape.
  7. Get a clean tray and dust it with the semolina. Place the 4 balls on the tray.
  8. Dust the top with a little more flour, then cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for around 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  9. Use the time in between to cut all the toppings.
  10. Once rested, preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/gas 7.
  11. Take some time in rolling the dough out after it has been rested, as you only have one chance with this- once it has been rolled, it cannot be squished up and re- rolled as the air bubbles will have all gone. On a flour-dusted surface, use your hands to stretch or I used a rolling pin to roll the ball into a large circle. Try and get the dough to the thickness of a pancake, leaving the border slightly thicker.
  12. Repeat with the remaining dough balls. Sprinkle some baking trays/ pizza trays with the semolina (try to find trays without holes, or the semolina will fall out) and place the pizza bases on top. I only had 2 baking trays, so just made 2 pizzas, then reused the trays, adding semolina to the bottom each time.
  13. Evenly spread the tomato sauce over each base- don’t use too much, as the pizza bases will get soggy.
  14. Add whichever toppings you want.IMG_4558
  15. Place the pizza in the oven for 7-10 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and eat straight away. IMG_4557IMG_4559Buon appetito!

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