Tuesday 20 August 2013

Homemade pizza, attempt 4,726*

Over the years, I've made a big effort to produce the perfect pizza at home. I've tried lots of recipes, in search of that perfect base. The results have been mixed so far. I've even tried the pre-made ones, using the Herta and Delhaize/Carrefour raw pizza bases. The only thing I haven't tried is buying and using a pizza stone. Maybe that is the next step. 

Anyway, this weekend, I tried this one from 'Love Baking Bread' magazine (more about the magazine at the end of this post). It was pretty good, as bases go. Shame about the topping. The recipe was for a 'pizza bianco', or a white pizza, so there was no tomato sauce We all found it a bit too dry.  

The base had a nice texture, smooth dough, bready and chewier than others I've made. It also coloured really well. 

If I were to try this base again (and I might), I would definitely have to make some sort of tomato sauce to go on top. My tomato-free pizza of choice will remain the flammkuchen though. 
Pizza base, pre-oven

I even went to a cheese mongers (Chaussee de Bruxelles 244, Waterloo) to find the cheese mentioned in the recipe (taleggio). That's how dedicated I am to making the perfect pizza at home! It didn't make a difference. 

and post-oven

For the dough, you will need 500g of strong flour plus extra for dusting, 7g of yeast mixed with 150ml of warm water, 1 tablespoon of clear honey, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix all of these in a bowl with a dough hook for a couple of minutes. If you need more water, add a drop or two. Cover the bowl and leave it to rise for 2-3 hours or until it doubles in size. Once it has done so, knock it back a bit on a floured surface. Divide the dough in to two balls and roll each one out into a roundish shape and transfer to a sheet of greaseproof paper each. Leave these to rise for another 30 minutes. 

When you're ready to cook, heat your oven as high as it will go and heat a baking tray for 20 minutes. Once hot, remove it from the oven and slide your base onto it, cover it quickly with the toppings (I used lardons, onion and the taleggio cheese) and cook for 12-15 minutes until the base is browned. 

One very important lesson from my wealth of pizza making experience is to always put something under the pizza base. I had the brilliant idea one time to put the pizza dough directly on the oven self - yes, the grill one - as this would result in a crispier base. I figured the base would cook before the pizza would fall through. It was a brilliant theoretical idea that didn't work in practice. A few minutes after I put the pizza in the oven I heard a "flllummmpppphhhhhh", and I had what looked like an inverse nuclear mushroom cloud of dough on the rack and the rest of the pizza in a heap on the oven floor. I regret so much that I didn't take a photo, but I knew the in-laws would be around any minute and I wanted to cover my tracks.

So, have you ever tried a homemade pizza? Any secrets to share? Do you use a pizza stone? 

* may be a slight exaggeration. But not much. I've tried lots of pizza recipes. 

About Love Baking Bread magazine: a colleague shared this magazine a good couple of months ago now. I looked to see if it was monthly or quarterly, but I couldn't see a publication date. It has lots of information for the novice and the more experienced baker. It seems to be made up of recipes from other sources, so it would be a good alternative to buying a bread book.

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