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Saturday, 21 August 2010

Pizza (Grilled Aubergines & Speck; Margherita)

There's no need for introduction, for pizza! What more can I say, except that it is one of the dishes that allows you to be the most creative. You can use pretty much whatever tickles your fancy in terms of toppings, and you can make your base thin, doughy, crunchy or soft. I am not a purist when it comes to pizza; just experiment with flavours and find the recipe that works for your taste buds. Here's mine!

INGREDIENTS (makes about 5-6 large pizzas)

  • 600 gr of strong white bread flour
  • 100 gr semolina flour
  • 1 and 1/2 tsps of dried yeast
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Lukewarm water
Place the flours in a bowl and mix them together. Make a well in the centre and put in the yeast, salt and sugar. Add a little lukewarm water and using a fork, incorporate the flour to the water, to form a dough. Keep on doing this, adding a bit of water and stirring with the fork, until all the flour has been incorporated in the dough, which eventually should be solid enough to be taken out of the bowl and kneaded on a surface (previously dusted with flour). If it's too wet, just add a bit more flour; if it's too tough, pour in a splash of water.
 Knead the dough for at least 10 - 15 minutes, folding it on itself, until you end up with a smooth and elastic consistency.  

Place it back in the bowl (dust it with more flour with necessary), cover it with a clean, damp cloth and leave it to rise somewhere warm for at least a couple of hours. If you have done your kneading well, it will double in size!

Now pre-heat your oven at 220°C. Take a bit of the risen dough and 'knock it back' by kneading it again for a couple of minutes. Then using a rolling pin, flatten it, making it as thin or thick as you like, it's up to you. Just bear in mind that, of course, the thicker you make it, the longer it'll take to cook and the more bread-like consistency it will acquire. I personally prefer mine quite thin (but not nearly see-through, as you get it sometimes in restaurants when they are trying to skimp on the dough!).
Now, spread the tomato sauce on your base. I make mine with organic passata or tinned, chopped tomatoes, which I dress with olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Then add the other toppings, minus the mozzarella (which you can add one minute before taking your cooked pizza out of the oven). My oven is very powerful and each pizza takes about 7-10 minutes to cook, however I have happened to use ovens in the past which took even 20 minutes to cook one pizza. So keep an eye on yours to figure out the right timings.
This evening, I used the following toppings for my pizzas: tomato, mozzarella, grilled aubergines (I grilled them myself, then marinated them in garlic, olive oil and oregano) and speck (a sort of smoked prosciutto from the North of Italy) for the first one; and tomato, capers, fresh basil and mozzarella for the second one.
Finally, if you have any leftover dough, remember that it freezes beautifully, and you can use it to make fresh pizza for your mid-week supper. What a treat!


Kj Osu said...

It looks fab! Need to try it, thanks

Irene said...

Thank you, Kj! I hope you enjoy it and let me know if you have any questions. I will soon post a few other recipes with more ideas for pizza toppings, so stay tuned :-)