Dough, Sauce, Toppings
As I have come to realize over the years, there are less people who learn to make full dishes as children than I thought. One of the first things I learnt to make in my extreme youth was pizza. Obviously when you are still very young you are just an assistant in the kitchen. Though by the time I was 16 I was cooking dinners for my family and among those things was and still is pizza. I even spent hours making pizza for the wedding guests at my Brother’s wedding the night before the ceremony. It gives me tremendous joy to give people a smile with my food.
Now, let us get to the recipe.
- Flour (Farina 00 or you can use white bread flour) – 3 cups
- Warm water – 1-1½ cup
- Honey (sugar will work as well) – 1 tablespoon
- Whole peeled tomatoes – 1 can
- Tomato paste – 1 tablespoon
- Oregano – ¼ cup freshly chopped (dried will work just fine)
- Olive oil – 2-3 tablespoons
- Caramelized onion and shallot (will require 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and a touch of honey)
- Fresh sweet basil
Step 1 – make the dough
Dissolve the honey into a cup of warm water. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and yeast. Add you water and honey mixture to your dry ingredients and mix well. You will see that the dough begins to come together, almost a shaggy look. If the dough seems a bit dry, add a table spoon of warm water until it all comes together. You will want to knead the dough until it becomes a nice soft ball. Allow the dough to rise, covered in a bowl, for a minimum of an hour before using. You can opt to let it rise overnight in the fridge which makes the flavor profile much more intense while increasing the bubbles.
Step 2 – start the onion and shallot
Slice the onion and shallot into thin rounds. Now heat a pan to a medium heat and add some butter to the pan. Once the butter has melted add your onion and shallot. Allow them to soften a bit before adding the balsamic vinegar and tough of honey. Reduce the heat to low and let the onion and shallot simmer away. They should get a nice sticky exterior as the vinegar and honey do there work. Check on them periodically until ready. They will be done when it becomes sticky and the onion and shallot are visibly soft.
Step 3 – get to the sauce
Add all your ingredients to a pot or relevant container for blending. I used a stick blender to get a consistent mix throughout. If you don’t the option to blend then you and use a potato masher or wooden spoon to mash up the whole tomatoes prior to mixing up with the rest of the ingredients. Place on the stove on a low heat for abut 5 minutes. Set the sauce aside to allow to cool slightly before using it on the dough.
Step 4 – topping preparation
First, preheat your oven to 250°C (485°F). We went with anchovies, olives, sweet basil, and caramelized onion and shallot. The anchovies I decided to keep whole. While the basil and olives I cut up so that they spread across the base a bit better. Prepare any toppings you would like to use at this stage. The onion and shallot should be close to done. If so you can take them off the heat and set aside for assembly.
Step 5 – assemble and eat
So now that you have all of your elements prepared to do the actual cooking we can begin. Your dough will likely give you 4 to 5 pizza depending on your preferred thickness.
Punch your dough down into the bowl, like releasing some of the air, and fold back into a ball. Take a smaller ball of dough from your main ball to roll out. The size should be about just bigger than half a tennis ball. Flour a work surface lightly and get your small dough ball. Roll out your dough to your preferred thickness. We typically have thin based pizza. Once rolled out you can place directly onto your baking tray. Add your sauce to the pizza base, using a ladle if often the easiest to spread it across the base without damaging it. So at this point I actually add my toppings and follow that with cheese over that. This way the cheese melts over the toppings, helping them to remain securely in place.
Place in your oven for 7-8 minutes (longer if you have a ticker base). The bottom should be crisp but not a board while the top should have some bubbles in the dough and the cheese melted just enough to cover the base.