We are a pizza loving people. So much that Dominoes comes first on my speed dial list, friends send me offer coupons of all pizza outlets in town and qya sings "o tararararam o pizza aayo free" during his bath.
The last time qya had a pizza craving, I offered to make him one instead of buying one. "But I want a real pizza, not one you make", he said. Ahem! I usually find stuff kids blurt out cute. Like how your friend's kids ask you when you would be leaving the moment you enter their house. And how they remark after a few minutes - you are still here! But qya's comment got me thinking that I should learn how to make pizza, a real pizza that can impress the fussiest of five year olds!
(Yields two pizzas about 30 cm in diameter)
360 grams plain flour (3 cups)
1/2 cup+1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg yolk (optional)
Combine 1/2 cup lukewarm water, yeast and sugar in a glass. Keep aside for about 10 minutes till the mixture is frothy.
Put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the frothy yeast mixture, another 1/2 cup of lukewarm water, salt, oil and egg yolk to the well. Mix with a fork and then incorporate the flour into the yeast mixture using hands. Knead for about 10 minutes till the dough is smooth and elastic. The ingredient measurements worked fine for me, but if you find the mixture too sticky, add a bit more of flour (a teaspoon at a time). On the other hand, if the dough is too dry, then add in a bit of water and continue kneading. Keep the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a moist tea cloth and let it rest in a warm place for about an hour or till the dough has doubled in size. Test dough to check if double by lightly pressing two fingers about half inch into the dough. If the dent remains, dough has doubled. Cut the dough into two equal portions, shape into balls, and keep covered in the fridge overnight.
When you are ready to make the pizza, take the dough ball(s) out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. This should take around two hours and the dough should be covered, as always.
(Yields one cup pizza sauce)
3 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
Combine all ingredients together and adjust seasoning.
For Pepperoni Pizza
1 dough ball at room temperature
Plain flour/Semolina flour for dusting
3-4 tablespoons pizza sauce
2 pinches dried parsley
1 tablespoon of butter melted along with 3 cloves of crushed garlic/olive oil (optional)
Grated mozzarella cheese (I used 75 grams)
Mint leaves, chopped
Preheat oven to 220 C.
Dust some semolina flour or plain flour or a mixture of both on the back on your oven sheet pan. Place the dough ball on it and press it down into a round shape and sprinkle some flour on it. Break any air bubbles you find on your dough. With your fingers, define a crust edge by pressing along the outer edge of the dough, about a cm from the edge. Working from offcentre, push the dough outwards with fingers. Once the dough has stretched out a bit, turn the dough over and stretch it gently along the edges and turn the dough a bit after each stretch. Stretch till the dough is about half a cm thick.
Turn over the dough and place it on the back of your floured sheet pan. Brush garlic butter/olive oil over the dough. Spread pizza sauce over the dough. Crush the parsley over the dough. Top with grated cheese and pepperoni.
Slide the sheet pan into pre heated oven. I placed it on the second rack from bottom. Bake for about 8 minutes till the cheese has melted and is bubbling. I believe I should have baked my pizza for a couple of minutes more so the crust browned a bit. Adjust cooking time according to your oven.
Once done, remove pizza from oven, brush some garlic butter/olive oil on the exposed crust and sprinkle over chopped mint leaves. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Slice and serve.
~ Make sure yeast is within date and that it was stored properly before using.
~Do not use hot water to activate yeast. Use lukewarm water only
~ You can modify your sauce by using herbs of choice, chili flakes or even a bit of powdered stock cube.
~ The pizza sauce can be stored for upto a week in the fridge.
~ You can also freeze the dough in air tight bags.
~ I do not have a baking stone but google tells me that it is best option for your pizza since it distributes heat evenly. If you use a baking stone, then it needs to pre heated for 30 - 40 minutes at the highest temperature your oven offers. Dust it generously with semolina flour so that you can slide off the pizza easily once done.
~ When stretching the dough, always work from off centre.
~ If you find it difficult to stretch the dough using your hand, you can use a rolling pin.