National Pizza Day (in Britain – yep we know, no Neapolitan death threats please) is upon us, but don’t reach for that phone for a takeaway just yet. Nope, we here at IDEAL much prefer to be covered in a dusting of flour, splatters of passata, with mozzarella under our fingernails and ricotta in our hair. So, we’ve jotted down our 5 beginner’s tips for making the IDEAL homemade pizza.
MAKE YOUR OWN DOUGH
We understand that you are likely not lucky enough to have your own pizza oven. But equally, your dominos or pizza hut isn’t being cooked with flame and hot brick, so that’s no excuse. Indeed, a hot fan oven will suffice. Making your own dough is the backbone of a great homemade pizza; those cardboard pizza bases go from soggy to blackened snap in no time and are best avoided. Fortunately, constructing your own base involves just a few ingredients and can be a lot of fun (and a good workout too!). Here are the basics….
You’ll only need some double zero flour, fresh (or dried if that’s all that’s available) yeast, warm water, olive oil and salt. Mix the dry ingredients, knead with the wet ones and let sit for two hours in a bowl in a warm place. Then, knock it back, knead again, divide into individual pieces and leave to rise again, covered with a dry tea towel for about an hour. After this time, you’re ready to roll.
A SIMPLE SAUCE OF TOMATOES
This article said homemade, so homemade it is, and no corners to be cut. Making a simple tomato sauce is as easy as pizza-pie. Of course, there is no one recipe which trumps all others, and nonnas across Italy will forever debate which is the finest fervently, but a good start involves minced garlic cooked off in olive oil, tomatoes (both fresh and tinned have their merits) and dried oregano. Other notable additions include a pinch of sugar, a few dried chili flakes or perhaps a splash of vinegar. After simmering gently for an extended period, blitz until smooth for best results. And don’t forget to season.
STRETCH OR ROLL? IT’S YOUR CALL
Although pizza purists will insist on tossing and stretching, consider your skill set before you enter into such acrobatics (and histrionics, we might add). If you can toss like a pro, then great, but if you’re afraid of your carefully, lovingly made pizza dough ending up on the ceiling, then there’s no shame in using a rolling pin to find the desired shape. Just remember to flour your surface and pin to avoid tearing. Your oven should be piping hot – something like 250 celsius is great – and the tray you’re using already hot when you carefully slide on your pizza.
APPLY TOPPINGS SPARINGLY
The words meat feast and a list of every edible animal should not be anywhere near a pizza menu. Toppings should be used sparingly – no more than three or four is fine – and should be chosen to work in harmony. We love butternut squash, goat’s cheese and rosemary, or simply anchovies and capers. Keep it light, simple and harmonious. Oh, and remember; not all pizzas demand a tomato base – pairing the flavours should extend to whether or not you include a sauce.
FINISH WITH FRESH HERBS AND OLIVE OIL
After the pizza comes out of the oven, there are still a couple of loving additions which will elevate it from good to great. Fresh herbs like basil should be added here, as the heat of the oven would have their vibrancy. Adding a dash of olive oil brings a wonderful mouthfeel and freshly cracked black pepper seals the deal. Happy cooking everyone!