If you've been following my other posts, in particular my pizza-related posts, you'll remember that I promised to share with you the best tried-and-tested pizza dough recipe in the world....
For me, a good Italian-style pizza constitutes a tasty tomato base, the right amount of cheese (I say lots) and a nice crispy, fluffy base that's not too thick and not too thin. Ready-made doughs and bases just don't cut it in my opinion but top UK chef Jamie Oliver gets it just right. His recipe makes a really light, fluffy crust that isn't too doughy, providing you cook it right .
If you've never tried making it, now's your chance to try! The mixture strikes the perfect balance between light, fluffy and crispy and you can use it to make thick or thin crust pizza bases, depending on your preferences.
The hardest part is making the well in the flour and adding the liquid mixture without everything collapsing and spilling all over the table. You'll see what I mean when you try it. I don't actually know why this method is better than simply mixing it but there must be a reason for it. It's quite easy once you get the hang of it... but be prepared to make a mess! Also make sure that you roll out the dough really thinly when it actually comes to making the pizza as the dough rises a bit when it cooks. You can also try stretching and flattening the dough in your hands like the Italian chefs do... although it never works for me.
• 1kg strong white bread flour or Tipo ‘00’ flour • 1 level tablespoon fine sea salt • 2 x 7g sachets of dried yeast • 1 tablespoon golden caster sugar • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil • 650ml lukewarm water
Sieve the flour and salt on to a clean surface and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.
Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
Remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead it around a bit to push the air out with your hands – this is called knocking back the dough. You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in clingfilm, in the fridge (or freezer) until required. If using straight away, divide the dough up into as many little balls as you want to make pizzas – this amount of dough is enough to make about six to eight medium pizzas.
Timing-wise, it’s a good idea to roll the pizzas out about 15 to 20 minutes before you want to cook them. Don’t roll them out and leave them hanging around for a few hours, though – if you are working in advance like this it’s better to leave your dough, covered with clingfilm, in the fridge. However, if you want to get them rolled out so there’s one less thing to do when your guests are round, simply roll the dough out into rough circles, about 0.5cm thick, and place them on slightly larger pieces of olive-oil-rubbed and flour-dusted tinfoil. You can then stack the pizzas, cover them with saran wrap, and pop them into the fridge.
You'll probably end up with lots of extra dough from this recipe but just wrap it up in saran wrap too and pop it in the freezer for another day. In fact, my second lot of pizzas using the defrosted pizza dough seemed to turn out even better..