I spend quite a bit of time in Italy, I have extended family there so I know a lot about the ‘soul’ behind how to create a good pizza and believe me to make a good pizza you need soul. And by that I don’t mean James Brown hangin’ around your kitchen or kneading your dough (which would be cool) I mean you need to put you soul into this, heart, passion, desire and need.
I recently spent the day with the very groovy Paolo Tullio and his brother who owns and runs a great Italian restaurant in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow and we hung out and just made pizza at his home outside Dublin. Paolo has an amazing wood oven and BBQ shack which for a foodie like me was akin to winning the lottery. His attitude towards pizza is wonderful – there’s a simple apathy on the surface as he his done this since he was a child but deep underneath this is a volcano of focus and passion and that is what is required to make good pizza………..
I occasionally do a step by step recipe and there is a little section of step by steps here but because I have been asked so many times by friends about making pizza at home I though it only fair to show you guys a fail safe step by step classic with this blog entry – this is the simple Parma Pizza – perfectly cooked in a domestic oven
The only caveat I will place here is that you need an oven that will not leak heat, will go all the way to about 250c – heat is essential here and if you have a leaking oven…well…what can I tell ya….Fhoget abad it!!!
Parma Ham pizza – about a 12″
- 250 grams strong white bread flour
- 2 x 7 gram packs of dried yeast
- 175 grams of luke warm water (yip, weigh it)
- 150 mls of good olive oil
- Parma ham – about 6-7 slices
- 1 fat ball of buffalo mozzarella
- 1 can of tomatoes (I used cherry, use what you fancy though)
STEP BY STEP
Kick off by combining the yeast and luke warm water and let it hang around for a few minutes – let the yeast ‘waken up’ and get bubbly.
Next lug in some good quality olive oil – or feel free use our own Irish Rapeseed – that stuff rocks.
In as big a bowl as you get get your hands on combine the flour and the yeast mix
At this stage the work really starts and this is exactly where you soul comes in – from this point on if you are in a bad mood then leave the room, leave the pizza alone, it needs none of your bad vibes! Have a beer and come back when you feel better!!
Bring the dough together with your pinkie or a fork – both are good
Next get ‘free range’ with things – turn the dough onto a floured work top and start kneading
There is a skill set to kneading dough for bread…which essentially is what this is – in order to allow the yeast work and rise the dough you need to active the gluten in the flour and this only happens with a robust kneading – so stretch, pull, massage and get personal with the dough…..15 minutes minimum!
You will know when the dough is ready, it will become smooth, silky and uniform – form it into a tight ball and if you poke it with your finger its should easily spring back – you’re now good to go. Pop it back into the bowl and lug in some more oil.
Next cover the dough with a dry cloth and leave in a warm place to rise for a couple of hours. Your opportunity now for a trip to the pub……….
Your dough will happily bubble away in the bowl and rise by at least double but you can leave this longer..Ive left bread dough for 2 days and its knock out! Next get you tomato sauce on the roll – sling them into a pan and simmer for about 10 minutes – season well.
Remove the tomato sauce and allow to cool completely – this process allows you to remove any bitterness in the toms and at this stage you can get really funky – add garlic, herbs, onions – anything you feel to super charge the base sauce.
As the sauce cools you can now start creating the base – turn the dough out and knock it back (beat it down!) then begin forming into a traditional base shape
Two ways you can go now – use your hands and fingers and push the dough into the traditional shape but in this example and becuase I want a think and crispy base I go at it with hands then a pin and roll it super thin – 1/2 cm!
Another option here – to use a pizza stone or a pizza tray. In my opinion (and it is my opinion mind) domestic stone suck…they are to small and too much of a faff…I use a Pugliese bought pizza pan which is about 16″ and slotted to allow the intense heat through. You can pick these up in good catering stores.
Drape the dough into the pan – and fork it to allow the heat in and around.
Next the fun bit – assembly and final bake. Spoon the sauce over the base liberally…BUT…not so much as you end up with puddles, this will stunt the dough for baking properly.
Next add the ripped or sliced Mozzarella cheese – using Mozza’ is only a personal preference, try Ricotta or Stracciatella as alternatives…knock your socks off!
All that remins now is to put this baby to bed – sling straight into an inferno of heat (or as close as you can get) – you’re oven needs to go all the way to 250c at least and the door has gotta have a good seal! Bake until the dough chars, the cheese melts and the whole thing moves around the pan if you shake it.
Finito! Home made, thin and crispy pizza – simply finish with the Parma ham and that’s it.