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Pizza time

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21/08/2012 by Mark Leach

I’m staying with my in-laws at the moment, down in south west France. We’ve been eating some great local dishes – shellfish, great local meat – more of which to follow. But last night I decided to treat them to a pizza, or six.

I say treat because after some bad experiences with pizzas of the supermarket kind they haven’t eaten any for a while. So despite being British and in deepest France I tried to give them as authentic a pizza experience as possible.

Below you’ll find the Jamie Oliver pizza dough recipe I used and the toppings I chose. I’ve also included my usual tips on what I would change next time. Buon appetito mesdames et messieurs!

Pizza dough ingredients (makes about 8 medium-sized pizzas)

1kg tipo ’00’ flour or 800kg strong bread flour and 200kg semolina flour (impossible to find the italian flour here so I used the latter)

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

14g dried yeast

1 tablespoon caster sugar

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

650ml lukewarm water

Method

Step 1: the dough
Sieve flour and salt onto a table (a clean one of course). Make a well in the middle, pushing the flour to the outside. Then add your olive oil, yeast and sugar to the water. Leave for a few minutes then pour into the well. Take a fork and gradually bring the flour into the water mixture. Carry on until you’ve got a doughy paste and knead it until you have a smooth dough. Tip: the type of flour you’re using may give you a wet dough. Don’t panic! This happened to me and I just kneaded in some more flour until the dough didn’t stick to the table.

When you’ve got a springy dough, which should be after about 5-10 minutes, form it into a ball. The next stage is to prove the dough. I added a trick from my bread-making method here. Flatten your dough out and bring each corner into the centre of the dough, placing each corner on top of the previous one. Turn the dough over and form it into a tight ball by cupping the underside with the edge of your hands.

Now place the ball in a bowl lightly greased with olive oil, put a towel on top and place in a warm area for about an hour.

Once the pizza dough has risen take it out of the bowl and knock the air out of it with your fingers. If you have time you can repeat the proving stage above. This will make your pizza bases even lighter. If not your dough is ready to use.

Step 2: cooking the pizzas
Before you can cook your pizzas heat your oven to the highest it will go – mine was 250°C.

Take your dough and roll it out into a long sausage shape. This recipe should make 8 medium-sized pizzas so take a knife and mark out the eight pieces of dough you’ll need. If you’re happy that they’re the same size cut your first portion of dough and form it into a ball. My dough was still a bit sticky so to stop it sticking to the surface I put some flour on the worktop and on the top of the flour. Then using a rolling pin roll out your pizzas. As Nigel Slater suggests, use an empty wine bottle if you haven’t got a rolling pin. If you’re making all your pizzas at once you can stack them up by putting some greaseproof paper between each pizza.

To cook your pizzas just take your base and place it on the baking tray or whatever it is you’re cooking them on.

Tip: I’ve never used a pizza stone but I’m definitely going to invest in one for next time. Why? Putting pizzas on wire racks in an oven is a nerve racking business! Dripping ingredients burning on the oven floor is never a nice experience…

Now for the toppings. I decided to keep it simple and just make two types of pizza. Italian salami and mozzarella: a mix of pancetta, parma ham, salami di milano. And mushroom and mozzarella: I used oyster mushrooms but you could use any kind really.

Tip: get all your ingredients ready at this stage so you can quickly prepare your pizzas and get them in the oven.

First of all I spread a simple tomato sauce onto each pizza. I put about two tablespoons of sauce on each – too much and you get a soggy base. Then put your toppings on. Put the pizza in the oven and leave for about 10 minutes – basically until the edges are crispy and the mozzarella looks golden. To finish the pizza off put some pepper and salt on and drizzle over some olive oil.

Hope this recipe works for you! My in-laws certainly liked them and I’ve promised to make them again. Next time I’m going to double the quantities and freeze half of the dough. Not sure if the frozen dough will work but it’s worth a try. I’ll keep you posted!

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