Yesterday was my stepdad’s birthday and we celebrated by visiting various decadent spots around Cape Town. As we approached dinner time we discussed which indulgences we could further tackle at home. We settled on pizza.
Unlike with home-made pasta, home-made pizza tastes worlds better than the store bought version and arguably better than restaurant pizza, but I guess that would depend on the pizzeria in question.
When I say home-made I mean - you make the dough, assemble and bake the pizza - all in a domestic kitchen with a domestic oven. There are however two tricks to making this work perfectly. A pizza stone and a pizza shovel.
There are many kitchen shops which sell pizza stones but in my opinion an unglazed terra cotta tile bought from any tile shop or hardware store for usually less then R20 is perfect. The stone is pre heated in the oven and consequently provides the direct bottom heat needed to give your pizza base a similar effect to baking it in a traditional pizza oven. It truly makes all the difference.
The shovel is essential too as it is difficult to move a fresh pizza base around a scorching hot oven without incident. I bought my pizza shovel at The Banks Shop in Sir Lowry Road for R140. If you’re not in Cape Town – ask your local pizzeria where they get theirs from or try most catering supply shops.
I have broken the process down below and it looks at first glance like hard work but trust me, once you are set up and have the hang of it, it will be a joy to you, your family and your friends forever!
The comment which sealed the feedback to the pizza I made yesterday evening was – “Indecently good!”
To make a perfect pizza you need
Pizza dough – you can often buy this from a pizzeria but I would suggest making a simple white flour yeast dough - recipe provided below
Tomato base – store bought pasta sauce - Neapolitan, Pomodoro or Arabiata (for some bite). If you want to make your own and need a recipe, mail me.
Mozzarella cheese, grated – about 150g per pizza
Toppings – your favourite. But fresh herbs like basil or rocket do finish it off well.
A fair amount of preparation is advisable before you start baking your pizzas. Pizza bakes quickly and is eaten even more quickly, so have everything ready.
You need to leave roughly two hours for the dough to rise before it is ready to use so plan accordingly. Pizza dough stays active for a number of days in the fridge, so you can make it the day before if you will be short of time.
Pre heat your oven at 200˚C for about 15 – 20 minutes, with the pizza stone on the wrack in the middle of the oven.
Decided what toppings you want, do the chopping and place your ingredients into bowls ready for use.
Once you have your dough, tomato base, grated mozzarella and toppings ready. Pinch off a ball of dough and roll it out on a floured surface. If you don’t have a roller, a wine bottle works well too. Roll it to the approximate diameter of your pizza stone. Prick the base all over with a fork to prevent it bubbling up. Slip the shovel under the base and place the base onto the stone in the pre heated oven. Leave it for a few minutes, just until it starts colouring. Take the base out and add the tomato, cheese and toppings and then put it back into the oven until the cheese is bubbling and browning.
Some toppings are best to add just before serving. Avo and fresh herbs are a no no in the oven. I add most of my topping just before serving as I prefer the fresh taste and texture.
Cut the pizza with a pizza cutter or a large chef’s knife and serve immediately with a juicy red wine. Repeat the pizza making process until your guests can’t eat any more!
For the pizza dough
Makes about 4 medium sized pizzas
600g of white bread flour, if can find OO Italian flour it does add a special taste.
1 (10g) sachet of instant yeast
3 Tbsp of sugar
2 cup of warm (blood temperature) water or milk
1 tsp of salt
In a large mixing bowl place about 500g of flour, yeast sugar and water (or milk). Mix the ingredients until combined and starting to get glutinous. The mixture should start ‘pulling’ a little. Cover this with a dish cloth and place it somewhere warm as this will speed up the rising process.
Once the dough has at least doubled in size pour it out onto a surface which has spread with the remaining flour. Add the salt to your dough and start kneading until all the flour has been combined. To see how to knead check out this link:
Now you can either start making your pizza’s or you can refrigerate in an air tight container for a few days until you are ready to use it. Note that it will continue to rise very slowly even when it is in the fridge so leave room in the Tupperware you choose.