pancakelizard

PERFECT pizza recipe

Posted on February 1, 2013

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Over the last year or so, i've been experimenting with making pizza. Inspired by MR JIMMY, who was legendary for great pizza at the rescue rooms in Nottingham. Sadly, Mr Jimmy moved on, and now lives overseas, so getting a Jimmys-style pizza was impossible. Nowhere in nottingham did great thin-crust pizza. Pizza hut was too greasy, Dominos and the others were OK, but were more american in their style. kebab/pizza shop pizzas usually had far too much bread, and relatively poor quality toppings. The only pizza that comes close to greatness in Nottingham these days is GODFATHER PIZZAS in carrington. by far the best takeaway pizza in town.

Anyway, I started hosting regular movie nights at mine, and used it as an opportunity to experiment and hone my pizza making skills. Using instructions given to me by Mr Jimmy, combined with a great article in issue 3 of LUCKY PEACH, i eventually mastered the art of homemade pizza

All ratios are approximate. and you dont have to use american cups for measurement, its just that thats what i use as i have a set of measuring cups i bought in the states. use your judgement, and you may need to add a bit more flour along the way... T is tablespoon, t is teaspoon

 Tools:

  • pizza tray(s)/stone. i use the 12" circular non-stick trays with holes in the bottom as i dont have room for a proper pizza stone, and my oven is a bit crap and doesnt get very hot. Theones with loads of holes and a low lipped edge work best compared to the ones with ~1 inch high lips (makes getting onto the plate a lot easier once cut!)
  • pizza cutter (although a sharp knife will do). any will do, as long as it has a reasonably sharp edge for cutting into those crusty edges
  • measuring jug
  • large mixing bowl
  • rolling pin (a clean and de-labelled wine bottle will also work if you dont have one)
  • clean tea towel, or some other way to cover the mixing bowl (needs to get wet, so paper towel isnt suitable)
  • clingfilm
  • a warm place to let the dough rise - i warm my combi microwave/convection oven up to 200 degrees, then turn it off
  • a reasonably sized CLEAN work surface to roll it all out

I find it best to make the dough and base sauce the night before, then keep them in the fridge until needed. you could do them the same night, but the dough improves over time as well as needing time to rise. same for the sauce. let the herbs and spices marinade for a while! Also, quality of ingredients is ESSENTIAL. especially with the toppings. you just wont get as good a result if you substitute grated mozarella from a bag for the fresh stuff.

The following should be more than enough for 4 12" pizzas:

The base:

1 packet active dried yeast (7 grams) - i use the allinson easy bake for convenience.
2 cups warm water (not too HOT!)
2T honey (normal white sugar will do as well, but i prefer honey)
2T olive oil
4-5 cups flour (general purpose self raising is fine)
2t sea salt
2-3T Mixed herbs
Dried Garlic/chilli ground finely to taste

for the rolling out of the dough: fine ground semolina (some of) - normal flour will work, but it isnt nearly as great! in my opinion, the semolina makes all the difference to the finished product as well as giving it a more "professional restaurant" style appearance.

in the measuring jug, add the water, honey, olive oil and stir. add the yeast and stir again. leave to stand for 15-20 mins. when you get back, you should have a nice frothy head on it from the yeast.

tip the flour, salt and mixed herbs into the bowl. sieving isnt needed, but if your flour is a little lumpy, it may help mix the herbs/salt in gently with a fork. dig a hole in the middle and add the frothy water/yeast combo. dont add it all, maybe do 2/3rds of it to begin with.

using a fork, wooden spoon or other implement, mix it all together as best possible for a minute or two, once its all mixed, start using your hands. this is the point where you will know if you need to add more of the water/yeast mix, or extra flour. you need to keep mixing by hand until it all comes into a nice big ball that isnt very "sticky". if its too sticky, just add a bit more flour and keep kneading. at some point after a few minutes, you will get to a point where it is one nice big floury dough ball instead of something that sticks to your fingers every time you touch it. hopefully the mixing bowl should be fairly free of flour stuck to the sides.

roll it into a ball, drop it back in the mixing bowl. grab a tea towel and run it under the tap. wring it out (not too hard though), and place the fairly damp cloth over the bowl. it needs to completely cover the bowl. place the covered bowl in your warmplace for AT LEAST 45 minutes.

go watch an episode of the wire. or make a start on THE SAUCE (below) and then watch an episode of the league instead.

check on it, it should have pretty much doubled in size. "punch it down" (ie re-knead it, and add a bit more flour to get rid of the stickiness of the dough so that it doesnt stick to the side of the bowl again. roll it back into a ball, and stick it back in the warmplace for a bit longer.

watch another episode of the wire.

repeat the last step, adding a bit more flour if needed. divide into 4 (or however many you need depending on ratios above. 4x 12" pizzas is probably enough for 6x 9" pizzas or 3x 15" pizzas. once youve done it once or twice, youll have an idea of how much you need for your pizza party!

pizzaparty2

you should have 4 balls that are the size of a fist (or a bit bigger than a tennis ball)... wrap them individually in clingfilm. LOOSELY. these *will* expand. leave room in the clingfilm for this to happen, or it will find an opening somewhere, and that bit will get all manky and dry, and nobody wants that to happen!

stick them in the fridge until tomorrow teatime.

pizzaparty1

The Sauce:

two tins of chopped tomatoes
dried oregano

tomato puree
garlic puree (or extremely finely chopped fresh garlic)
pepper
dried chilli/garlic/salt (i have a large grinder filled with all three in one)

paprika is also an optional addition. as is fresh chilli and garlic chopped and diced finely if you like it extra spicy

tip the two tins into a jug, add half a tube of puree, a load of oregano (at least 2T) and the other ingredients. i like things to have a kick to them, so usually add more chilli and garlic than is really necessary for normal humans. you'll know how much you like. stir it all around with a fork. if there are any overly large lumps of tomato, squish them down a bit with the fork. you want a slightly lumpy sauce, but not 1 inch cubes of tomato! once youre happy with it, cover the jug in clingfilm, or decant to a sealable glass jar and stick it in the fridge. the oregano needs a while to "soak" so leave it AT LEAST 30 minutes before using the sauce. Again, i leave it overnight, so theres less mess to deal with the next day.pizzaparty3

The Toppings:

1-2 balls "fresh" mozarella - the sort you get sealed in a plastic packet in water from most supermarkets, NOT the pre-grated stuff!

some other, more robust cheese for grating (or a bag of pre-grated if youre lazy) - a nice cheddar works well.

then, i use:
sweetcorn
olives, sliced (the fresher, the better. deli counter ones are SO much tastier than big jars of them in brine)
sliced jalapenos

meats - i like parma ham, bacon, sliced chicken tikka and pepperoni/salami. where possible, rip the meat apart by hand, especially the slices of salami/pepperoni. dont go for the perfectly rounded bits of meat, they take up too much space. rip them apart. it looks better, and you get a better spread of toppings that way.

 

other topping ideas:

mushrooms
tuna
onion
sliced tomato (or halved cherry tomato)
spinach
you know what you like, this is the fun part... its up to you!

If youre having a pizza party, get some plastic food tubs (y'know, the sort from takeaway restaurants!) and put your prepared toppings in a few of those (ie sliced musrooms, etc). its a lot better than people having to chop their own toppings, plus you get to stick the leftovers into a tub and make a spare pizza the next day (if there4s any dough left!)

firstly: PRE HEAT THE OVEN (and baking tray). make it as hot as you can go. i leave mine for at least 20 minutes before using it.

clean your work surface. make sure it is dry. cover the rolling area with a dusting of semolina flour. unwrap a doughball and roll it in the semolina to stop it sticking to the worktop/rolling pin. knead it into a circular shape. roll it out with the rolling pin until you end up with something that goes slightly over the edges of the pizza tray - it should only be a few millimetres thick by now. add the base to the tray, and fold any edges over so it fits the tray properly, as well as making a nice little crust round the edge. again, not too thick... if you have to much dough on one side, cut some off, and add it to an area where you do need a bit of crust adding.

BEFORE YOU START THE TOPPINGS.... REMEMBER! LESS IS MORE. DO NOT ADD TOO MUCH CHEESE OR TOO MANY TOPPINGS TO YOUR PIZZA!

add the base sauce. approx 3 large tablespoons full. using the spoon, spread it out evenly over the base making sure EVERWHERE is covered with at least a tiny bit of sauce. do it right up to the edge/crust

rip off some mozzarella, and drop it around the base in roughly 2cm sized lumps.

add your toppings remembering less is more. too many toppings will ruin it. and try to avoid any topping in the immediate centre (apart from cheese)

add grated cheese. again, apply sparingly. its ok to have areas where you can still see red. the cheese will melt and spread around. it will be fine in the end. too much cheese will kill you!

gently rub your hand over the top of it, spreading out any toppings evenly where you may have  accidentally put too much topping in one section. drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the top. only a tiny bit, mind! now is also a good time to add any final bits, like dave's gourmet hotsauces

- i like the daves ultimate insanity sauce. just 5-6 drops spread evenly over the pizza

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chuck it in the oven. cook for 5-15 mins depending on your oven temperature. halfway in, spin the tray around to give the other half of pizza some love (not needed so much in a convection oven though)

repeat the steps for however many pizzas you are making. if you are cooking several at the same time, then  swap the level the pizzas are on (ie move from top to the bottom, sticking the lower one up high) halfway through when you go to turn it around so they all cook at roughly the same time. do not leave them in for too long. set an alarm on your phone or something. theres maybe a four minute window between almost ready and burned. especially if your oven is any good!

once the cheese is golden brown, remove and leave to stand for a few minutes, otherwise when you slice, the cheese will be too melty, and it will be a nightmare to get on the plate! divide into 8-12 slices using the cutter, and drop it on a large plate (or cardboard box for that proper takeaway feel!)

finally, grab a bottle of wine, and press play on that new miley cyrus film youve been wanting to watch all week. ENJOY!

 

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