You know when you pass by a pizzeria and that overpowering smell of pizza just hits you; within seconds you even forget where you were going and you are ruled entirely by your stomach. Your taste buds are all that counts in that precise moment and your mouth begins to water so badly that you could easily give into temptation. This is easily done in Italy as there are many places where you can grab a “pizza al taglio”, a hot slice of pizza on the go.
But how can a simple bread dough with a splash of tomato sauce and a few chunks of cheese be so incredibly tasty?
Whenever I go to a pizzeria I love to watch the pizzaioli making pizza. It is a skilled job and it takes lots of time and practice to learn how to make a very good pizza. Yes, because there are many factors that make a pizza taste great.
Pizza cooked in a stone oven using wood is always going to taste at its best as the oven can reach very high temperatures and pizza dough likes that. You get that crunchy and soft pizza at the same time which just melts in your mouth.
This does not mean you cannot get very tasty pizzas at home. There are many ways of producing fab pizzas in the cosiness of your own kitchen.
I often add a tbsp of olive oil to the dough mixture but there is another way for a lighter dough;
Mix only flour, yeast, water and salt and make it into a smooth ball. This is similar to a Neapolitan pizza. I have let the ball prime for a few hours then I made 4 balls of equal size (as I needed 4 pizzas), lined them up on a floured tray and covered with cling film.
And after 3 hours they doubled in size
I shaped the pizza by pressing only the centre of the ball without touching the border. You want to push the air towards the edges in order to get a nice and soft “cornicione” or crust.
To make a nice and round pizza dough you can use the trick of the bowl by laying your dough over a floured bowl and gently, like caressing a child (so they say!) push the dough gently towards the edges. It will be easier to get a nice and round pizza.
Spread your tomato sauce on it then put the pizza in the highest rack of the oven at the highest temperature your oven can reach. You will notice your dough quickly rising especially the crust. Leave your pizza in the oven for 10 minutes. The trapped air in the crust will help in making soft and fluffy edges. Take the pizza out of the oven, put your mozzarella, oregano or basil and drizzle some olive oil then finish baking it for the remaining 5-8 minutes.
And this is my pizza…. I could have it for breakfast too!