An Italian pizza is a thin crust confection, that follows the mantra ‘less is more’ when it comes to the toppings, and that is because the the wood fired ovens used all over Italy are fiercely hot and cook the pizza in about 5 minutes or so. Too much topping and the crust would be overdone by the time the topping is cooked. I don’t think it is possible to buy a deep pan pizza in Italy, but then why would you?
At our local pizzeria, they don’t use rolling pins to create a disc of dough. Upon receipt of your order they take a ball of dough, from a batch quietly rising, and pull and stretch it over the curved edge of a marble topped work surface, using one hand to turn the ball/disc of dough around and the heel of the other hand to form it, constantly turning a few degrees at a time and forming. Their circles of dough are almost perfectly round and achieved in just 1 or 2 minutes to the correct diameter. Wonderful to watch their dexterity.
I have been using this recipe for making my own pizze (Italian plural of pizza, so no apologies) for about 20 years, and I have never given it much thought until my friend Helen reminded me that I gave her the recipe several years ago and because it is so reliable that I should share it. So here it is. I usually make my dough using a bread machine, so that I can be doing other things while it is working, but the dough is just as good if you kneed it by hand.
The quantities below yield sufficient dough to make 2 pizze of 30 cm/ 12 inches diameter, which is what I usually make for 2 or 3 people.
Preparation time: between 1 and 2 hours depending on the rising of the dough and the dough cycle of your bread machine
325 gm/11 1/2 oz/ strong white bread flour
225 ml/7 1/2 fluid oz hand hot water
15 gm/ 1/2 oz butter melted
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried yeast
a little olive oil for greasing the pizza pans
It is important to be accurate when measuring out the ingredients so that the finished dough is pliable and does not stick to your hand. Having said that if your dough does seem a little sticky just add a little more flour.
If using a bread machine pour the water into the bread pan, then add the melted butter. Sprinkle the flour over the water, and then put the salt and the sugar into opposite corners. Finally sprinkle the yeast over the top of the flour. Put the bread machine onto a dough cycle and wait for it to complete.
Making it by hand, dissolve the sugar in the water and then add the yeast and give it 30 minutes or so, to start bubbling. Then you put the flour into a large mixing bowl, stirring in the salt. Add the melted butter to the yeast mixture and the stir into the flour. Work the mixture together with your hands until it comes together as a ball of dough. Kneed and work the dough for 5 minutes and form into a ball. Cover and allow it to rise for 45 minutes.
Knock back the dough for a few minutes and then divide it into two. Taking each piece of dough in turn, form into a ball, then flattening it with your hand.
Then taking a rolling pin, roll out on a floured surface until it reaches about 30 cm/12 inches in diameter.
Transfer to a greased pizza pan, by winding it onto your rolling pin and unrolling it onto your dish or tin.
Push the dough, with your fingers, into the corners
Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise for 15 minutes.
When putting your desired topping on, remember that ‘less is more’ and then bake in a pre-heated oven set at 220 c/425 F/Gas 7/Hot for 20 minutes or until golden and sizzling.