I used this pizza base recipe at our London house-warming party which led my friend Johnny to claim I made ‘the best pizzas outside of Italy’ (sure he’d had a few cups of the punch by then but that’s besides the point!). Roll them out thin and crispy to avoid a stodgy base so the focus is on the flavour of the toppings. There’s life beyond Margaritas and Hawaiians – I like fresh red onion, apple and walnut and fig and gorgonzola is always a winner.
Makes 2 pizzas
7.5g dried yeast
250ml warm water
300g strong white bread flour
1 good pinch of salt
1 Jamie Oliver sized glug of olive oil (i.e. quite a lot)
For the dough
Prepare the yeast by setting aside in the 250 ml’s of warm water for 10, then add this to the flour, salt and oil. Knead the dough for around 10 minutes on a floured work surface or in a kitchen mixer with a dough hook until it’s firm and no longer sticky. (This stage is really important. It works the gluten in the flour which helps give the dough its elasticity, meaning it can be rolled and stretched ultra thin to achieve the perfect crispy base).
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a cloth. Leave for an hour in a warm place until its doubled in size. After this, knock the dough back, pushing the air out. Cut and shape into two small round balls and, with a rolling pin role out very thinly (the thinner the better) onto a piece of baking parchment, adding flour whenever it sticks to the pin. Transfer the pizza bases still on the baking parchment and leave to rest/ cool in the fridge for half an hour. (Resting the dough at this stage means that it wont retract and shrink when you bake it.
Put your oven on and place a pizza stone or heavy based pan or baking tray into it and turn to 200 °C. Its important that your pizza stone/ baking tray is extremely hot as this will help give the pizza a crisp base. The key is to cook your pizza in as little time as possible, under 10 minutes and you’re doing well.
Remove your base form the fridge and top with what you like. Most pizzas start with a tomato base, so for this I use a concentrated tomato pesto. You don’t want to make your base too wet otherwise you’ll find it hard to get the firm base. Then put your cheese, Mozzarella is always great but I like it accompanied with something a bit more tasty and seasoned. A little bit of freshly grated Parmesan or Gorgonzola compliments the creaminess of the Mozzarella. I love a sweet and salty combination too so a few fresh of dried figs and some salty Parma ham or Panachetta work for me. A generous grind of fresh black pepper and your ready to go.
Slide the pizza still resting on the parchment paper onto a plate or chopping board, then slide of into the oven onto the piping hot pizza stone. You want the base to be cooked firm and crisp by the time you have a good colour on the pizzas surface. Using the parchment helps you move your pizza around with less faff but also means the base won’t stick to the stone in the oven, which means you don’t have to use an excess of flour. When cooked spread a few fresh rocket leaves over for an additional peppery kick; but it also makes your pizza look the business.
More of my favourite combos
Apple, walnut and Gorgonzola with coriander
Red chilli and Parmesan, lots of black pepper
Grilled aubergine and basil leaves
Chicken with lime zest, chilli and crème fraiche
Gorgonzola and pineapple
Red onion, goats cheese and basil pesto
Fennel and lemon zest