It’s top of our takeaway favourites – but follow Ewen Macdonald’s ultimate pizza recipe and you’ll never go back…
Sourdough, spelt, natural yeast, put in the fridge, put somewhere cool, put somewhere warm, put somewhere dark, wait for days, slowly add this, add that… now why would I want to go through all that hassle when I can make a single simple, all-versatile bread. If you only make one bread recipe in your life: choose pizza!
The queen of all pizzas has to be the Margherita, so named after Princess Margherita of Savoy and encapsulating the colours of Italia: the green of the basil, the white of the mozzarella and the red of the tomato sauce.
I have a simple rule of thumb when eating pizza anywhere, if they can’t make a good Margherita, then they’ve no right making any pizza at all. Of course, you don’t have to have a Margherita, the toppings for pizza are as wide and deep as your imagination: onions, peppers, mushrooms, olives, sweetcorn, capers, chillies, ham, salami, pepperoni, spicy beef, chicken and even arrrggghhh the dreaded pineapple (a favourite in our house, though not with me).
You could even make a sweet pizza for dessert with some Nutella and pistachios and serve a slice with a scoop of gelati on the side. How much more Italian is that?
Pizza dough is also great for dough balls, (watch the kids devour those with a side order of garlic butter). Grissini, those classic Italian bread sticks can be pimped with some sesame seeds or poppy seeds before baking. Pizza dough is also great for making rosemary bread. Roll out some pizza dough and merely top with some fresh rosemary, sea salt and olive oil.
1 tablespoon of good olive oil
500g bread flour
325ml warm water
10g Cornish Sea Salt
5g dried yeast (the better the yeast the better the bread)
This should make enough dough for 8 small individual pizzas or 6 large pizzas. Add the flour, olive oil, warm water, Cornish sea salt and dried yeast in a large mixing bowl together. Place in a mixer with a dough hook for around 4-5 minutes until all the ingredients come together and the dough is smooth and elastic.
If kneading by hand double the kneading time. Mix the ingredients together by hand in a bowl until they come together then tip onto a smooth, floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Next, place the dough into a clean, well-oiled bowl, which has enough capacity for the dough to double in size. Cover the bowl with oiled cling film and leave to rise for at least two hours. It can be left overnight for use the following day.
When ready for use, tip the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured smooth surface sprinkled with polenta or semolina. Use a dough knife to cut it in half, then quarters and then eighths. Take one portion of dough and put in the palm of one hand and with your other hand pinch the dough to create a perfect smooth sphere.
Place back down on the surface, pinch side down and begin to flatten (I think the less you use a rolling pin the better the pizza). Pull the pizza into a circular shape around 10cms in diameter and around 3-5mm thick. If you end up with a hole in the dough simply pinch it back together. When you achieve the desired shape and thickness place on a pre-heated tray and begin to add your tomato sauce and toppings.
Don’t over sauce your pizza, about a tablespoon should be suffice. Use about a third of a mozzarella ball on each pizza, tear it into smaller pieces instead of slicing it to give a better overall coverage.
Place the pizza in a pre-heated oven at the hottest temperature possible for around 10 -12 minutes. If you have a pizza stone use it and if you have some fancy pants, wood-fired oven then saluti! to you.
Once the pizza is cooked to your taste, sprinkle with fresh basil leaves and serve immediately.
You can, of course, refer to November’s issue of Cornwall Life Magazine for a truly magnificent tomato sauce recipe, but if you’re searching for an acceptable alternative then look no further.
1 tablespoon of good olive oil
2 teaspoons of concentrated tomato puree
1 pinch of Pimenton
1 carton/jar of tomato passata
1 teaspoon of sugar
Cornish Sea Salt
Pour the olive oil into a pan and heat gently before adding the tomato puree and the pinch of pimenton (Spanish smoked
paprika) to the pan and fry very briefly.
Don’t use a lot of paprika you just want the merest smoky, sweet hint.
Then add the passata, the teaspoon of sugar and the finely chopped, fresh basil. Cover and leave on a low heat until all the flavours have infused and the passata has become thick and unctuous. Add salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
The great thing about this sauce is that it can be made at any time and left in a bowl to cool, or placed in the fridge overnight.
Any leftover sauce will never go to waste, just add it to some pasta, with some more fresh basil and a grating of parmesan and you’ve got a classic pasta al pomodoro for an instant lunch or supper dish. Buon Appetito!