September 20, 2012

How to make the perfect Italian Margherita pizza

What’s for dinner? How about a delicious classic Margherita pizza?After reading about Mia’s travels in Naples, the birthplace of Margherita pizza (Read the post here), we found the perfect Margherita pizza recipe to share with you.

This Jamie Oliver recipe has a really great method for making your own pizza dough. If you can find semolina flour, it gives the dough an authentic flavour and texture. But if you can't find it, strong white bread flour will also work.


For the dough (makes enough for 8 to 10 medium-sized thin pizza bases)
• 800g strong white bread flour
• 200g fine ground semolina flour or strong white bread flour
• 1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
• 2 x 7g sachets of dried yeast
• 1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
• around 650ml lukewarm water

For the tomato sauce (makes enough for 4 pizzas)
• 1 clove of garlic
• a small bunch of fresh basil
• olive oil
• 1 x 400g tin good-quality plum tomatoes
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping (enough for 4 pizzas)
• 85g mozzarella
• extra virgin olive oil


To make the dough:
1. Pile the flour and salt on to a clean surface and make an 18cm well in the centre. Add your yeast and sugar to the lukewarm water, mix up with a fork and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well.
2. Using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix into the water. It will look like thick porridge. Continue to mix, bringing in all the flour. When the dough comes together and becomes too hard to mix with your fork, flour your hands and begin to pat it into a ball.
3. Knead the dough by rolling it backward and forward, using your left hand to stretch the dough toward you and your right hand to push the dough away from you at the same time. Repeat this for 10 minutes, until you have a smooth, springy, soft dough.
4. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let double in size for about 45 minutes.

To make the sauce:
5. Peel and finely slice the garlic. Pick the basil leaves and discard the stalks. Heat a saucepan on a medium-low heat and add a splash of olive oil and the garlic. Cook gently until the garlic starts to turn golden, then add most of the basil leaves, the tomatoes, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook gently for around 20 minutes, or until smooth, mashing the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
6. When done, have a little taste, and season again if needed.

To make the pizza:
7. Divide the dough in two. Wrap one half in plastic wrap and freeze for another batch. With the other half, divide the dough into 4 balls. Flour and cover each ball with plastic wrap, and let it rest for about 15 minutes. This will make it easier to roll it thinly.
8. Take a piece of the dough, dust your surface and the dough with a little flour or semolina, and roll it out into a rough circle about 0.5cm thick. Tear off an appropriately sized piece of tin foil, rub it with olive oil, dust it well with flour or semolina and place the pizza base on top. Continue doing the same with the other pieces and then, if you dust them with a little flour, you can pile them up into a stack, cover them with cling film and put them in the fridge
9. When you're ready to cook them, preheat your oven to 250°C/500°F/gas 9.
10. Put two of the rolled-out dough rounds onto each of two oiled baking sheets. At this stage you can apply your topping. Smear the tomato sauce over the base of your pizzas and spread it out to the edges. Tear over the mozzarella and scatter with the remaining basil leaves. Drizzle with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil and add a pinch of salt and pepper. If you can, cook the pizzas on a piece of granite in your conventional oven – if not, do them one by one on pieces of tin foil directly on the bars of the oven shelf, towards the bottom of the oven (If you're going to cook your pizzas on the bars of the oven, make sure they're not too big – otherwise they'll be difficult to manoeuvre). Cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the pizzas are golden and crispy.

Want to see how the Italians make this pizza? Watch this YouTube video, filmed at the Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente pizzeria in Naples, Italy. 


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