Truth be told, K is probably the more obsessive foodie in this relationship. While I’m fairly laid-back and more pragmatic about food origins, he spends a lot of time thinking about how to make things from scratch from organic materials. It’s the difference between my choosing to run down to the shops to buy a loaf of pre-sliced white sandwich bread, while he’ll spend days researching the best no-knead bread recipe that requires a three day resting period for the dough and an intricate ten-step baking process.
With this in mind, I bought K a gift certificate to a pizza making class for his birthday, indulging his need to learn how to male everything from scratch. We attended the three-hour Salvatore Pizza Class with a dozen other couples, armed with a healthy appetite and a willingness to get our hands dirty!
The Sicilian host Salvatore has a particularly sardonic type of humour, and very obviously takes his pizza seriously. He regales us with facts not just about the history of pizza making, but hard, scientific facts about the dough-making process. He goes into detail about the exact chemical reaction that happens when you use certain types of yeast, and the components of different types of flour, precisely the type of information that the knowledge-hungry K just drinks in!
I won’t go into detail about what we did in the class. Essentially, we just got our hands dirty as we made our own dough and enjoyed a pizza meal together. I really enjoyed the class, and do recommend it for those who feel passionate about making all their meals from scratch. Learning how to make a good dough is a good life skill to have, and you get to reap the benefits of much more authentic pizza at home! To book your spot in a class, visit Salvatore’s website.
Since attending the class, K and I have made pizzas a few times. We’ve even experimented with using the same base recipe, but using sweet toppings for a dessert pizza – a winning combination! Take it from me, the below recipe is good for both savoury and sweet pizzas.
Salvatore is very passionate about making sure that all his students are comfortable with the process of making pizza, stressing the fact that the quantities of ingredients you use to make pizza dough are never exact, and that you have to rely on your sense of touch to really understand how much to use and when to use it. He advocates for playing it by ear, adding flour and water as needed throughout the process.
With that in mind, please take the ingredients and the method listed below with a grain of salt – use it as a guide, but find a recipe that works for you as an individual!
500g flour, 300ml water, 15g salt, 10g sugar, 10g fresh yeast (or 7g dried yeast), 15g extra virgin olive oil
Mixing Your Ingredients
- Dissolve the yeast in 30 ml of water, and add the sugar and set aside.
- Place the flour on the bench and make a well.
- Add salt, olive oil, and the remaining water.
- Mix gently, incorporating a little flour at a time until creamy.
- Add yeast mix and the remaining flour while working in the excess dough stuck on the bench.
- Assemble the mix into a ball shape.
Kneading the Dough
- Dust the bench with flour & place the dough on top.
- Fold the dough in half towards you and kneed by using the palm of your hand.
- With the other hand, rotate the dough anti-clockwise.
- Repeat this process until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Cover it with cling wrap and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
Preparing the Dough
- Cut the dough obtained in 4 portions and repeat the kneading process.
- Roll them up into round shapes and place them in a lidded container.
- Seal and keep refridgerated for at least 24 hours.
- Prior to use, allow 1 hour outside the fridge before stretching into shape.
Stretching the Dough and Making Pizza
- Preheat the oven at maximum temperature (280c on conventional ovens).
- Brush a baking tray with some plain or herb infused extra virgin olive oil.
- Place a portion of dough on the tray and gently stretch it all the way to the edges of the tray.
- Pinch pizza base with a fork and add your favourite toppings.
- Cook for approximately 5-7 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
You can also blind bake the pizza bases for future use without any toppings by cooking the stretched out pizza base in the hot oven for about half a minute before removing it, wrapping it in cling wrap, and freezing it. A frozen pizza base should keep for about two months, so you can very easily bake a dozen pizza bases in one night and set yourself up for the next few weeks!
Tell me – do you make your own pizza bases? Are you like K and prefer making everything from scratch?