Pizzas made at home cost a fraction of those bought out. While pizzas can be a home for tasty tid-bits you have in your fridge and pantry, they are also delicious made with special Italian ingredients such as mozzarella, grano padano, passata, prosciutto, pancetta and olives.
2 tsp dried yeast granules
1 cup warm water
2 Tbsp olive oil
400g (about 14 ounces) Italian 00 pizza or focaccia flour
2 tsp flaky sea salt
Flour and fine semolina for kneading and shaping dough
1 Put the dried yeast in a small bowl and pour in the warm water. Stir once, then leave for 10 minutes until dissolved. Mix in the oil, stirring well.
2 Sieve flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the dissolved yeast mixture. Mix together with a large fork, then knead together with your fingers (it’s messy!). Turn the dough onto a floured work surface (preferably wooden; avoid kneading on cold surfaces because this will cool the dough and inhibit the action of the yeast) and knead for 8-10 minutes, using as little flour as possible to prevent sticking, until the dough is springy and no longer sticky. Alternatively, knead the dough in an electric food mixer for several minutes with a dough hook, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
3 Put the ball of dough in a warmed lightly oiled china bowl, turn it over so both sides of the dough are covered in oil, then cover bowl with plastic food wrap. Leave bowl in a warm place for 1-1½ hours, or until doubled in bulk.
4 Punch the dough once or twice with a floured fist to deflate it, then scrape it onto a surface sprinkled generously with semolina. Wrap loosely in plastic wrap (if there is not enough semolina it will stick) and let it rest for 2-3 hours, or until ready to use. For longer storage, or if the temperature is very warm, refrigerate the dough, but bring it to room temperature before shaping.
5 Divide dough in half to make 2 pizzas, or into quarters to make 4 pizzas, or into 48 small pieces if making pizzette. If making pizzas, roll or shape into rounds or rectangles as called for in the recipe. If making pizzette, roll into balls, then press into small rounds on a tray lined with baking paper and sprinkled with semolina.
6 Meanwhile, preheat a pizza stone for about 45 minutes on the bottom shelf of an oven preheated to 230°C (about 450°F), then lower temperature to 220°C (425°F). Using thick oven gloves, remove the hot stone from the oven to the stovetop. Quickly slide the pizza onto the stone, then return it to the oven. Alternatively, use a pizza paddle (a long-handled implement specially designed for the job) to slide the pizza onto the hot stone. It is easiest to assemble pizzas one at a time on the pizza paddle. Scatter pizza paddle (or baking tray) with semolina. Divide dough in three and working with one piece of dough at a time (keep the rest of the dough sprinkled with semolina and covered), roll and shape it into a rectangle on the pizza paddle or baking tray.
7 Cook the pizza for about 10 minutes, or until golden and bubbling on top and browned around the edges. Transfer the pizza to a large plate and serve. If you don’t have a pizza cutter (a sharp wheel), use kitchen scissors to snip the pizza into wedges. Prepare the second pizza on a baking sheet spread generously with semolina while the first one is cooking and the last one while the second pizza is cooking.
A plastic dough scraper makes easy work of cutting pizza dough into pieces and a wooden pizza paddle makes transferring pizzas into and out of the oven an easy matter. To stop dough sticking, get hold of a bag of fine semolina. You’ll get the best result baking pizzas on a preheated pizza stone, but failing that, a preheated baking tray set in the bottom third of the oven will suffice, just allow a little extra cooking time.