Even today, when every single thing I bake comes out of my oven as it’s supposed to, I feel on top of the world. Though, when it is bread or pizza that comes out of the oven so flawlessly, I feel on top of the universe.
Things like pizza weren’t part of my food culture for the longest time. And then the likes of Dominos and Pizza Hut came in and gave me an illusion of a pizza; not that I was complaining back then but now that I’ve thoroughly busied myself with all these wood fired oven, thin crust varieties, I don’t think I can go back to having fat, unctuous ones with 20 different toppings.
I love a bit of drama in my food, but believe me, when it comes to pizza, minimalism is everything. I wasn’t a “pizza-minimalist” myself, I had this uncontrollable need to chuck everything I had in my fridge over a pizza, until I saw this true-blue Italian chef make pizza on TV. In his endearing Italian accent he said, “no more than 2-3 toppings” and “no pineapple please.” I took his advice and I am glad I did.
If you are an amateur when it comes to making pizzas, this is by far the best recipe you can give a shot at. I followed David Lebovitz’s Party Pan Pizza recipe with Margherita topping though – I just love the burst of buffalo mozzarella against sweet tomatoes and basil.
All you have to do is prepare the dough, which you can a day earlier. The dough needs not more than 5 minutes of kneading, may be another 5 minutes if you are kneading by hand. It takes 1 ½ – 2 hours for the dough to prove, a time perfect for any other chore you might want to get done with.
Note: It is still very difficult to get your pizza to be super thin, light and bubbly on the edges like the Italians do because at home, most of us don’t own a wood-fired oven. A baking stone helps but it is not quite the same. So go easy on yourself as long as you get a reasonably thin albeit delicious pizza!
For the dough
- 400 g (3 cups) all-purpose flour plus ¼ cup (35 g)
- 35 g (1/4 cup) wheat flour
- Pinch of sugar
- 2 tsp dried yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- ¾ cup cold water
- 125 ml (½ cup) water, tepid
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
For the Margherita topping
- 125 ml (½ cup) passata
- 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 200 g buffalo mozzarella
- 8-10 fresh basil leaves
- Olive oil, to brush
- In a mixing bowl, combine yeast, tepid water and sugar. Add ¼ cup of all-purpose flour and ¼ cup of wheat flour. Mix well and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, add the remaining 3 cups of flour, salt, olive oil and ¾ cup water. With a mixer attached with dough hooks, knead on maximum speed for 5 minutes. If you are kneading the dough by hand, then may be knead for an extra couple of minutes.
- Oil a clean bow. Gather the kneaded dough into a ball and place it in the oiled bowl. Flip the dough so that the oiled side is on top. Cover the bowl with cling film and allow it to prove for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
- Once proven, sprinkle a baking sheet (11X17 inches) with cornmeal or semolina (rava/suji). You can use a parchment paper instead. Preheat the oven to 250 C.
- Deflate the dough carefully and place it on a floured work surface.
- Roll the dough out to the size of the baking sheet. Lift the dough and place it on the baking sheet.
- Brush the sides and the surface of the pizza with olive oil.
- Spread the passata in the center, leaving out the edges. Place the cherry tomato halves. Tear the mozzarella and place it over the pizza.
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
- Sprinkle the basil leaves before serving.
Source for pizza dough: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2012/07/party-pan-pizza-recipe/