On the versatility of pizza

Written by on July 4th, 2013 // Filed under Pizzas, Ultra-meaty, Vegetarian

I love pizzas because they’re such a breeze to prepare and there’s really no limit to the flavour you can pile onto it. The one in the picture above is a lamb pepperoni pizza laid out on a base of caramelised onions (sliced onions, sautéed in olive oil with a teaspoon of honey), mozzarella cheese (I tucked a few globs of mozzarella under each little lip of pepperoni, and over it too, which is why it’s so gooey and melty in the picture).

3-cheese Pesto Pizza
Pesto, with Mozzarella, Parmesan and Romano cheeses.

This one’s a pesto pizza, with three cheeses (you could use any sort you fancy really). I haven’t put in a pesto recipe because I haven’t perfected one yet. You’ll find a assortment online; I’d personally recommend Smitten Kitchen’s pesto recipes, but watch this space and I’ll have my own recipe up here in some time.

Making your own crust isn’t that difficult at all. This recipe makes two pizza bases. Pizza’s meant to be fast food and I prefer to treat it that way even while putting it together. Minimum prep with maximum flavour.

My personal favourite is the pepperoni, but feel free to experiment with your own toppings and combinations.

Always use a baking stone. I don’t believe you’re making pizza the right way if you don’t use a baking stone. I bought two 4½”x9″ pieces of ½” thick marble, which when put together form a 9″ square (and cost me a little under thirty bucks). Heat the baking stone for 40-60 minutes before slipping your pizza onto it.

Ingredients
(makes two 8″ pizza bases, or two 9″ thin crust bases)
110g atta
110g maida
1tsp active dry yeast
1tsp salt
1tbsp honey
1tbsp olive oil
¾th cup warm water (186g)

Method
  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (I use a non stick crockpot for all my bready dough mixings).
  2. Add the warm water and oil and mix till all the flour is incorporated. Cover this and let it rest for fifteen minutes. This makes sure the water gets evenly distributed through the dough.
  3. With wet hands stretch and fold the dough for about ten minutes till it becomes even, free of lumps and very elastic. The dough will be very sticky and stretchy, bewarned. Divide this into two. I usually make one immediately and then use the other bit the next day. Refrigerate the half you’re not using; the longer you let it stay, the better the flavour of the final baked base. The dough would keep for about three or four days max.
  4. Flour the counter generously (I use atta at this point) and flatten the ball of dough into a stout circle. Coat the dough with flour. This should make it less sticky and easier to work with.
  5. Using fingertips, spread this out into a shape of a circle. Transfer this onto a floured baking sheet.
  6. Let the base sit for about fifteen minutes before you put your toppings on.
  7. The pizza should go into the oven immediately after you put your toppings on it, to keep it from getting soggy.
Some pizzas are baked in two step methods, I’ve listed them both below.

Method One
Method Two
  • This is a two step method. You first top the pizza with a mix of tomato, basil, garlic and olive oil (I use canned tomatoes for this, they result in the nicest, chunkiest sauce. One tin will yield two pizzas worth of sauce. After you spread the tomato mix on the base, you stick it in the oven and bake in a tray for 18 minutes at 220°C and then remove. Top with remaining toppings (melty cheeses, mushrooms, anchovies, salami, pepperoni, go crazy!) and bake for 7 minutes on a baking stone (the previous bake was in a tray). Sometimes it takes ten minutes to get your crust crispy, but that depends on the wetness of your toppings and base, so trial and error this out a bit.
  • This one’s simpler. As is the case with pesto pizzas and most other non-red-sauce based pizzas (or if you have a pre-cooked red sauce ready), all you need to do here is top the pizza up and slip it onto a baking stone and bake for 18 to 20 minutes with your oven at 220°C.

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