How to make Italian style pizza

Who doesn’t love pizza?  Good, authentic Italian pizza that is.

It’s quite simply one of my favourite things to eat but more often than not, the base on a store bought or fast food pizza leaves a lot to be desired.

I’ve experimented over the years with lots of different pizza dough recipes to try to find the Holy Grail – authentic Italian style pizza.  I think I’ve found it and now you can try it too.

It only takes about 20 minutes to prepare the dough but you have to leave the dough to prove for 3 – 5 hours. I know that’s a long time to wait for your pizza but it’s definitely worthwhile!

My method of baking pizza is slightly different to the norm.  I suggest that you cook the base with just the pizza sauce and an oiled crust before adding toppings (including cheese) and baking again.  This allows your base to cook through but ensures your toppings don’t burn and the cheese stays nice and gooey.

This pizza dough recipe freezes well. Simply place your pre-rolled dough balls in clingfilm and freeze.  The dough will keep in the freezer for a few months and takes a couple of hours to defrost at room temperature.  Then all you have to do is roll out your pizza.

pizza

Topped with salami, grilled peppers and artichokes

Makes enough for Italian style super-thin crust 12 inch pizzas.

Alternatively, makes 4-6 thicker crust 12 inch pizzas

Ingredients

  • 1kg ’00’ flour – available in all good supermarkets but if you can’t find it, plain or bread flour works just as well.
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast (or 3 tablespoons fresh yeast)
  • 600ml of hand-warm water
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Pizza sauce of your choice – I just use passata
  • Mozzarella
  • Pizza toppings of your choice

Method 

  1. Sprinkle the yeast into the warm water and stir until dissolved.
  2. Empty the flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
  3. Add the oil, salt and sugar and then add the yeasted water. NB Don’t add all the water – keep about 100ml back as you don’t want to end up with wet dough.
  4. Now mix everything together with your hands, kneading to bring all the flour into your dough.  Add more water as needed to incorporate all the last bits of flour.
  5. Tip your dough onto a light floured board or a clean work surface and begin kneading.
  6. Knead your dough for 10 – 15 minutes until the dough is really smooth and elastic.  Add a sprinkle of flour to your dough if it becomes sticky and wet.  Don’t cut back on the kneading time  – this is what makes your pizza dough beautiful and light.
  7. Once kneaded, put the dough in a lightly oil large mixing bowl and cover. Allow to rest & prove for at least 3 – 5 hours.  I always leave mine for 5 hours. It will swell massively during this time.
  8. After 3-5 hours, dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and ‘knock back’. This means you need to give it a good punch all over to get rid of the air – a great stress reliever!
  9. Once knocked back, give it a light brief knead and divide the dough and roll into balls. You can divide it into 8 balls for super thin crust pizzas or 4-6 balls for thicker crust pizzas.
  10. If freezing:
    • Wrap the balls tightly in cling film and place immediately in the freezer.
    • Once you’re ready to use the dough, defrost at room temperature and then continue to step 11 below
  11. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 6 / 200 degrees C / Fan 180 degrees C / 400 degrees F.
  12. Roll out a ball on a lightly floured surface until it’s the diameter of your choice.  I  aim for 12 inches.
  13. Place on a pizza baking tray or pizza stone and cover with a pizza sauce of your choice. I keep it simple because I’m lazy and just use passata.
  14.  Lightly oil the edges using olive oil and then place your pizza in the oven for 10 minutes.
  15. Remove after 10 minutes, add mozzarella and toppings of your choice and then place back in the oven for anywhere between 5-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted, and the crust is  beautiful golden brown.
  16. Remove and enjoy!
IMG_20170716_123438_433 (1)

Topped with parma ham, rocket and balsamic glaze once out of the oven

After kneading, before proving

After 5 hours proving time

Ready for freezing

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