Friday, October 29, 2010

Pizza Part II

Although the Cheat's Pizza I wrote about a few weeks ago was a revelation, I kind of wondered what part it could play in my life. What problem does it solve? Great for one or two people, but impossible in larger quantities - and isn't the whole point of making a pizza, at home, from scratch, to give other people a home-made pizza experience?

And I was also curious about Jamie Oliver's pizza dough, which a lot of people say is nice, but I wanted to see it for myself. And it is fantastic - obviously. You sacrifice nothing: not taste, nor texture.

So I made up a quantity of this dough and rather than dithering about frying it in a pan and then putting it under a grill, I found a flat baking sheet that could fit both in my oven and under the grill and decided to go with that. The trick is to briefly bake the pizza base in the oven before you put the ingredients on top and then finish it off under the grill - it stops the whole thing going soggy.

I used a 12in x 17in baking tray, which gives enough pizza easily for 4 people, or enough for about 6 hungry children. Wow that makes me sound like a really nice person, like I might be making this for a bunch of 7 year-olds. Fat chance.

This recipe makes enough dough for TWO 12in x 17in pizzas. I recommend freezing the extra for another pizza moment as making the dough is the only faffy bit.

500g very type 00 italian flour
400g very strong plain bread flour + 100g semolina
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar
7g dried yeast
325ml warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 Sift together the flour and salt and make a well in the middle.

2 Mix together the water, oil, sugar and yeast. Stir and leave for 3 minutes. Then pour into the flour and mix round with a fork. When it comes together, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 4-5 minutes until it's springy and cohesive

3 Put it on some kind of floured surface, your choice what - dust with more flour, cover with a tea towel and leave somewhere warm for an hour.

4 After that time, pummel the dough out a bit on a well-floured surface and knead it round for 4-ish minutes. Then divide this ball into half and roll it out very, very thin to about the shape of your baking sheet - it doesn't have to be a precise rectangle. Make sure the pizza base is well-dusted top and bottom with flour so it doesn't stick to anything.

5 Put this to one side for 20 minutes. Now turn your oven and your grill on to the highest they will go and make some tomato sauce (1/2 can chopped tomatoes, 1 clove garlic, 1 spring basil, 1 glug olive oil, large pinch salt and whizzzzzz in a whizzy machine) and chop up all your toppings now because you'll want to scatter them quick quick over your pre-baked pizza base.

6 Your kitchen by now ought to be worryingly hot from the heat blasting out of your grill and oven. Slide your baking sheet into the oven, as close to the top of the oven as you can get it, for about 3 minutes.

7 Remove from the oven and scatter ideally with semolina or you can use flour. Now carefully lay your well-floured pizza base into the now-boiling-hot baking sheet. This isn't that easy. I recommend picking the dough up with a rolling pin and then laying it down on the sheet and sort of rolling it on - if that makes any sense. Anyway, just do it the best way you can see how and if you find a foolproof way, do share.

8 Stick this back in the oven for about 3-4 minutes, just until the edges of the dough are begining to very lightly colour and the dough feels light and not sticky to the touch.

9 Remove and pour over the tomato sauce, spread it around and add the mozzarella and whatever else you want to it. Then shove back in the oven for about 6-8 minutes until the dough is crisping up and going dark brown around the edges. Finish off under the grill. Produce for lunch to screams of awe.

I can't quite believe that I've got this far without launching into a huge insane rant about what a terrible mood I'm in. Like I'm angry like I used to get at my old job. I just filed a piece and got an email back along the lines of "Thanks. Could we make a few changes..." and there followed, I promise you, about 18 things they wanted to change. And they're shite changes. But BIG changes. And I've written it now and going back over it seems like being made to eat the dinner you didn't want last night for breakfast. And I want to tell them to go and fuck themselves, right in the bum, but I can't, because it's that kind of shitty attitude that got me into this mess in the first place.

But, you know, it's only pride. And they probably know what's best for them. And at least they asked rather than just changing everything themselves to make me sound like someone else was using the family braincell when I wrote it.

I would say that being able to write whatever I want here and not being asked to change things has spoiled me - but being asked to change things has always pissed me off no end. Unless it's the Mail, of course, in which case you just smile and think of the money.

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