When I want to try things out I really want to maximise my time and effort. So…. the Italian pizza I was determined to completely nail, in addition to really wanting to trial my new Kenwood processor and also refine my cast iron pan pizza recipe, did not seem too big an ask. However, I’ve discovered the virtues of doing what I always suggest to other cooks and that is to be organised, don’t take too much on for a day’s work and always make sure you have all your kitchen utensils etc at the ready. So first time out for the Kenwood and this happened.
The very handy spatula that comes with the processor was in the drawer so now I have dough on a sieve along with the an explosion of pizza dough everywhere. Why did I dive in enthusiastically to get the dough out of the processor with my hands and not have those helpful utensils ready or even a photographic assistant today? This is the stickiest pizza dough I have ever made and I was incapable of taking photo’s until I had sorted out said explosion and stickiness and rediscovered my hands from beneath the ooziness of the dough. That’s how being organised may have helped. I now have a task not to add to the fat bergs in the sewer system by binning the remaining dough stuck to various bits of equipment – not washing it down the drain.
Anyway the good news is the dough is really making a good effort to climb out of the bowl so it seems to be working. In fact it would appear it may need to be relocated into a larger bowl. One good thing I did actually remember to do was to oil the bowl, so this is not necessarily a major problem.
The vegetables can vary completely to whatever you prefer. For example add peas, beans (fresh, tinned or frozen) carrots, beetroot, swede. Whatever takes your fancy. If you’re concerned about quantities I find it’s good to arrange the different ingredients for one person on a board or plate and see how it looks and whether or not it’s an overwhelming plateful. However dealing with any leftovers is always another fun meal!
*tip: The 00 flour may be something you haven’t used before. It makes the absolutely best pizza, Italian style and transforms the texture compared to other flours. Fresh yeast can be bought at various bakeries, and some supermarkets. If you can’t see any ask at the supermarket bakery, they may not even charge! My usual port of call for fresh yeast is my local bakery, who will sell a kilo for about £4.00. It has a best before date – usually about 2 weeks from purchase. In spite of being an enthusiastic baker I cannot get near to using that amount in the time frame so I freeze it in 15g quantities. It keeps for at least 3 months this way.
500g 00 Flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons honey
15g fresh yeast (or 7g sachet dried fast acting yeast)
Slices of chorizo or other cooked meat or fish
Fresh basil, torn
Freshly ground black pepper
The water needs to be warm for the yeast, so I boil the kettle and then use about 100ml of boiled water to 200ml of cold from the tap. This makes it the perfect temperature for the yeast to do its thing.
Add the yeast to the water and stir until it’s dissolved. The water will look cloudy and you need to check that there are not largish pieces of yeast at the bottom of the bowl.
Pop all the ingredients apart from the semolina (this is used to dust the pizza for extra crunch and helps stop it from sticking in the pan) into the food processor with a dough blade and “pulse” for 2 minutes. Do not be tempted to have it whizzing along merrily for a couple of minutes on full whack, or you’ll make the same mistake as me and overstress the motor and end up with a cloud of smoke and possibly worse.
Oil a large bowl – it will pretty much quadruple in size. I also pre-warm the bowl with hot water to give the dough a nice cosy feel perfect for dough proving.
This is the time-consuming bit. It’s a good idea to make it then ignore it for the day or at least 4 or 5 hours. After your dough has beautifully risen, preheat your cast iron skillet or other cast iron pan. I do this in an oven on maximum heat.
Whilst the pan is heating give the dough a jolly good pummelling to knock the air out.
Scatter the semolina evenly in a single layer on a chopping board or clean work surface and shape the dough. I find it easiest to do smallish pizzas that are easier to handle as I certainly don’t have the ability to spin the dough in the air and competently catch it on the back of my hand, with any confidence that it won’t end up on the floor and in the dog.
Lightly oil the very hot cast iron pan carefully. I do this with kitchen paper, but mind your fingers. However, you may prefer to pour a spoonful of oil in and tip around to coat.
Place the rounds of pizza dough into your cast iron pan and heat on full temperature on the hob. You want the underneath of the pizza to take on some browning. This should take a couple of minutes.
Turn over using a heatproof slice. Arrange the topping of your choice such as tomato paste, oregano, chorizo and cheese on the cooked side. The cheese you use really determines the flavour of the pizza. Your choice, whether it’s Mozzarella, Cheddar, Gruyere, or a combination of these, or even a blue cheese for something a bit special.
Put the pan in the oven on maximum heat for 10 – 12 minutes – the more topping you use the longer it takes. If you have a commercial or pizza oven it will only take 3-4 minutes as they achieve a very high temperature.
Scatter with the torn basil and cracked black pepper. Serve!