The first time I heard pizza described as a bread, my mind melted like mozzarella in a wood-fired oven; however, underneath the ingredients, of course, it’s part of the same global family of yeast-leavened breads as naan, pitta, and our own white bloomers. None of these relatives, however, arouses feelings as strong as pizza, something closer to a religion than a simple bread, with cults dedicated to the worship and defense of its various incarnations – woe to those who enter a temple of the Neapolitan cake! and he orders ham and pineapple, or the goofball who demands a thin, crispy base in old-school Chicago.
The one thing most fans can agree on, however, is that it’s impossible to make “proper pizza” at home – you can’t make a home oven reach the searing temperatures of a commercial appliance, whether it’s from firewood or not Less obsessive disciples can, however, make a pretty decent facsimile, either by heating up their oven for hours and playing with baking stones, or putting a frying pan on the hob. The choice is yours.
The fact that it is a loaf should give you a clue as to the best type of flour to use. You can make pizza with all-purpose flour, as J Kenji López-Alt’s recipe on the Serious Eats website recommends. (Though he himself prefers “fancy” Italian flour, he says the differences are marginal enough that it’s not a necessity.) best bet This is because the higher the protein content, the more gluten will develop in the dough. This much-maligned matrix is what gives the dough its springiness, allowing it to stretch out into beautiful big, blistered bubbles in the oven, instead of staying resolutely solid, like one of those supermarket boxed pizza crusts that passed by. for authentic in the 1980s. but now they resemble nothing more than a Bath Oliver biscuit.
Which is to say that higher protein flours, such as the strong bread flour used by Olivia Potts in her book A Half-Baked Idea, or the 00 flour often sold as pasta flour in British supermarkets, are a better option. The latter is particularly good because it is finely ground (00 refers to the degree), which makes it a particularly delicate and crunchy crust.
The Sainsbury’s version uses a herby flour-based dough, 00.
Note that if using bread flour, or all-purpose flour, you may want to add a bit more water – the very fine texture means you need less – the Lopez-Alt recipe is 75% hydration (weight of water is 75% by weight of flour) and 70% from Potts, while the two I try to use 00 flour, from Franco Manca founder Giuseppe Mascoli and the one from Pizza Pilgrims, ask for 59% and 60 % hydration respectively. (More water makes the dough harder to work with, but it also makes the finished product lighter and bubblier—I think we’ve already established that we’re talking about bubbles here.)
Let’s be honest: we all dream of a homemade pizza that’s faster than a takeaway, so I decide to try a recipe from Sainsbury’s magazine using baking powder, instead of traditional yeast, letting it rest for just 30 minutes before baking. The results, while not unpleasant, are more like a pita than a pizza; great if you have a lot of hungry and rather indiscriminate mouths to feed in a hurry, but not for the pizza aficionado.
Sourdough pizzas aside, which are a whole different pot of anchovies, there’s no substitute for yeast, and it takes time for yeast to work its magic; how much is an interesting matter. The recipes I try range from a 10-hour rise and minimum leavening for Lopez-Alt’s recipe, to a five-day rise for Potts’ pizza, with Pizza Pilgrims describing 24 hours as “optimal.” The difference is largely due to the fact that Potts’ and Mascoli’s doughs rise in the fridge, in a process known as cold fermentation. This slows down the action of the yeast, but gives the final product a better flavor and texture (apparently cold fermentation results in stronger gluten networks). You’ll need to bring it back to room temperature before shaping and cooking it, but in this case, patience is a great virtue—if you want a really complex flavor, you need to plan ahead.
Not far though; López-Alt has done some interesting research on this very topic, and concludes that a rise time of between three and five days is optimal: “Eventually, even at cold temperatures, the yeast will start to produce a lot of those aromas. to sour milk , removing the taste of your bread. And there’s an even bigger problem: As the alcohol content and acidity of the dough increases, it eventually becomes so high that the yeast simply stops working.”
I consider three days to be enough, but that may be because I find it very difficult to wait any longer for my pizza.
Franco Manca founder Giuseppe Mascoli deep-fries his pizza, with delicious results.
Salt is a must in pizza dough and while purists frown on it, I’m not too snooty to add a bit of sugar to help the yeast out and give it a more complex flavor, although you can omit it if you prefer. While olive oil does give a nice flavor, it also softens the texture, so I’m not going to use it, preferring to save the herbs for the top, rather than adding them to the batter, as Sainsbury’s suggests.
The most important thing I’ve learned, belatedly, is that a cast iron skillet is the best tool for cooking pizza in the kitchen—nonstick pans are out for safety reasons, and my stainless steel skillet turned out great pizza, but al at the expense of its shiny silver base. Potts’ recommended cast-iron skillet, however, produces perfect results—if you have one, use it.
You don’t need to grease it, unless you’re actually frying the pizzas, like in Mascoli’s recipe, and I’m sorry to report they’re too good.) Just get it piping hot, though not so hot that you burn the bottom before it’s fully cooked; you may need to experiment a bit with the first batch to figure out what works for your pan.
López-Alt, in a quest to eliminate the need for an oven entirely, recommends cooking the dough on both sides with a lid on, and then browning the dough by turning it over a gas flame or using a blowtorch. This works well if you don’t have a grill, but it’s much easier, and I think better texture-wise, to char the bottom of the plate, then transfer it to a hot grill to brown the top and melt any cheese. (Make sure your toppings are at room temperature as Lopez-Alt advises, or they’ll take too long to heat up.)
Proofing for 24 hours is enough for the Pizza Pilgrims dough to be ready to cook.
At that point, I’m happy for you to accompany your pizza with whatever you want, even chicken (the horror), but all the recipes I try call for a classic combination of mozzarella and tomato, often with a few basil leaves, or “if you like you feel really nostalgic”, as Potts says, a pinch of dried oregano. She also makes a buttery, garlic and onion sauce, a “bastardization” of a Marcella Hazan recipe so delicious I eat it with a spoon, but it feels like browning the lily here: Mascoli’s simple boiled tomatoes, with a dash of of salt and sugar, give it a hit of purer tomato. He explains that her topping does not contain oil because the pizzette is fried, but in fact I prefer it even for dry-fried pizzas; you can always drizzle a little oil on top before serving.
As for the cheese, you can’t beat the buffalo mozzarella (note: if you want to use a firmer mozzarella pizza, you may need to deploy a blowtorch to help it melt as it will take longer than the thicker stuff). wet). Sainsbury’s also adds Parmesan, roasted peppers and cherry tomatoes, but apart from a few herbs I don’t think you need anything else for perfection. Eat right away, and certainly fast enough to burn your tongue: it’s worth it.
Perfect pan pizza
Raise 3-5 days
Homework 5 minutes
Cook 35 minutes
500 g Italian flour 00, plus extra to dust
1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon of fine salt
1 teaspoon of sugar (optional)
To the top
1 can of 400 g of chopped plum tomatoes
1 ball of buffalo mozzarella
1 bunch of basilor a pinch of dried oregano
Extra virgin olive oilto drizzle
Mix the flour, yeast, salt and sugar and then add 325 ml of water until you get a smooth dough. Cover and put in the fridge for three to five days.
Tilt onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into four roughly equal portions, shape into balls, cover, and let rest for two hours. Take the cheese out of the fridge.
Mix 00 grade flour, yeast, salt, sugar and 325 ml of water and knead into a dough. Cover and refrigerate for three days.
Put the tomatoes in a saucepan over medium heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until you have a thick sauce. Season to taste with salt and a pinch of sugar, if necessary.
Shape into four equal balls, let sit for two hours while you prepare your toppings, then flatten into thin disks.
Heat a skillet or skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat until an experimental drop of water dances across the surface. Heat grill to medium-high heat.
Roll out the dough with your lightly floured hands into a rough round, keeping the edges thicker. Cook in the skillet until the bottom starts to char, add a tablespoon of tomato sauce and some crumbled mozzarella once the top starts to dry out.
Fry the batter in a hot pan, adding tomato, mozzarella, and other ingredients when the top begins to dry out.
Once the bottom looks set, grill until the cheese is bubbly and the edges are golden brown. Finish with a few basil leaves or a sprinkle of dried oregano and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Pizza: is it possible to make a decent one at home? If so, what is your preferred method? Do you prefer them deep or thin and crunchy, and do you prefer the classic margherita topping or a heretic ham and pineapple (or even French fries, as I once saw in Bergamo)… or does all pizza leave you cold?