On my trip to Italy in November, I found this cute pizza cookbook at the Colosseum gift shop. The book was round and each page contained either a recipe for a pizza or showed the pizza you were making. Lots of amazing images and delicious sounding pizzas. It was also in American measurements, so I picked up a copy (and two more for Christmas presents). There was also one showing tarts which looked amazing, but unfortunately, it was only in Italian, so wasn’t possible to pick up.
After Christmas I finally got the chance to try my hand at these delicious pizzas. There are four different pizza dough recipes, one thin, one thick, one whole wheat, and one gluten free. I’ve tried all but the gluten free at this point. All I can say is that making it at home is much more fun and tasty than most takeaways and restaurants in London. I’ve yet to find a great pizza place in London. The best pizza I’ve had to date is the one we had in Naples. Supposedly it’s the birthplace of the pizza, and some people claim it’s the water that makes the dough there taste so good.
Pizzas are great because while there are recipes, you can modify them, or even just do whatever you like. The pizzas I’ve tried from the cookbook so far are leek and pancetta; apple, onion and walnut; potato and mushroom; ground beef and onion; salami, mushrooms and fennel; tomato, garlic and sausage; and onion, cheese, and walnuts. (With leek and pancetta twice, because it’s awesome). I’m not going to include any recipes to make the actual pizza, but I will provide the thin crust pizza dough recipe. Interestingly, the dough makes two 12-inch pizzas. I think Little Caesar’s probably had it right with its PIzza! Pizza! promotions.
- 1/2 ounce or 1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- About 1 cup warm water
- 2 cups bread flour and extra for hands and surface
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
- Put fresh or active dry yeast in small bowl and add about 1/2 cup water (if you use rapid-rise yeast, it doesn’t need proofing, in fact I use active dry yeast and it still doesn’t need proofing)
- Stir gently until the yeast has dissolved and set aside until frothy about 10 minutes. (again skip this if you don’t need to proof the yeast)
- Combine flour and salt (and unproofed yeast if you don’t need proofing) to a medium bowl. Pour in the yeast mixture (or water), oil and enough of the rest of the water to obtain a sticky dough
- Dust a clean work surface with extra flour. Scrape the dough onto the work surface and form into a ball.
- Kneed the dough for about 8-10 minutes. When it is firm and no longer sticks life it up and bang it down a few times to develop the gluten.
- Place in a large, oiled bowl, and cover it with a cloth. Set aside for 1 hour.
- Stretch out the dough to fit the two 12-inch pans
- Add your toppings and bake at 500 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes
- Enjoy your delicious pizza!