Pizza + Beer + Good Friends = WIN

26 07 2009

There’s nothing like having people over for dinner. The preparation, the stress, the anticipation, the company, the conversation, this is what makes entertaining so appealing to me. Then of course there’s the food.

Last night it was pizza, something I’m getting very good at making. I’ve got my own recipe for Pizza Dough which I stole from Jamie Oliver then changed to suit my tastes. A bit of experimentation in the kitchen is always a good thing. I can also recommend getting a pizza stone, they’re not expensive and are also great for baking bread. For the recipe, I’m just going to assume you have a stone, but if you don’t, a pizza tray will suffice.

The recipe:

200 gm semolina flour
800 gm “Superfina 00” flour (normal flour is ok too but the fine stuff is better)
550 ml tepid water
40 gm dry yeast
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 generous pinch of Sea Salt

1. Mix the flours together in a bowl, then empty out onto your clean working surface. I have a stainless steel bench top which works perfectly for this.

2. Push out the flour and make a large well or depression in the centre, big enough for all the water.

3. Pour in the water, add yeast, salt and oil. Mix together with a fork, gradually bringing in more of the flour as you stir.

4. Continue to mix in the flour until the dough comes together. At this point start mixing with your hands mixing remaining flour int the wet mixture.

5. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. The mixture should be firm and smooth. Put back into a floured bowl and cover with a tea-towel. Let this mixture sit for at least 45 mins in a warm place. The dough will rise to more than double in size.

Pizza Dough before rising

Pizza Dough before rising

6. Open a beer and drink. If you don’t have beer wine will suffice. If you don’t drink, then skip this step.

7. Prepare the ingredients for your pizza toppings. My favourites are:

  • Proscuitto and bocconcini
  • Smoked salmon with capers, dill and goats cheese
  • Mushroom and fetta
  • Roast pumpkin with pine nuts and rocket (add the rocket after the pizza is out of the oven, but before cutting)

8. Preheat oven to as high as it goes, and place the stone in the oven to heat up.

9. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Flatten one to the size of your stone, pushing out with fingers and palms of hands. Don’t use a rolling pin, this pushes too much air out of the dough.

10. Remove the HOT pizza stone out of the oven and place your dough on top. The base will begin to cook immediately. Reduce the oven to 220C.

11. Spread a very thin layer of tomato puree on the base, thicker at the edges. Then top with desired toppings, and return the stone to the hot oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on how good your oven is.

That’s it! It’s really easy, and is the most satisfying feeling to have created it from scratch. Just note a couple of things:

  • The pizza is generally better when the toppings are thinner rather then piling it high.
  • Thin crust is more authentic Italian, but this dough can also be used thick if that’s what you prefer.
  • Experiment with toppings, you’ll never know what you might discover.

Anyway, the night ended with too much alcohol consumed, too much Singstar, and a 3am finish. Try my pizza and share it with friends! Enjoy!