Pizza

Total Time:
1 hr 56 min
Prep:
30 min
Inactive:
1 hr 20 min
Cook:
6 min

Yield:
4 pizzas
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients
  • Pizza Base:
  • 1 recipe Basic Bread recipe, recipe follows
  • At Stage 5 of the basic recipe, divide your dough into 4 pieces and simply roll each into a large, plate-sized, slightly irregular round shape about 1/4-inch (0.5 centimeters) thick, using a rolling pin. Once you've added your chosen topping, place the pizza directly onto the bars of your preheated oven and bake for around 5 to 7 minutes at its hottest temperature until the topping has melted and the pizza base is lightly golden.
  • Olive, tomato, arugula, Parmesan, and mozzarella pizza:
  • Halve and seed 8 ripe plum tomatoes and dice them. Place in a bowl with 2 good handfuls of pitted olives. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, a touch of olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar. Smear this onto each pizza base, the sprinkle with pieces of mozzarella. Bake as above, then remove from the oven and sprinkle with some lightly dressed arugula and a good shaving of Parmesan.
  • Mushroom, mozzarella, thyme, and spicy sausage meat pizza:
  • Slice up 6 fat mushrooms and fry with a good handful of fresh thyme and some chopped garlic in a little olive oil until golden. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and remove from the heat. Add a little extra olive oil and smear the mushrooms evenly over each pizza base. Split the skins of 4 spicy sausages and sprinkle very small pieces of the meat on top of the mushrooms. Scatter with a little chopped fresh chile, add a little mozzarella or other melting cheese - taleggio or fontina - and bake in the oven as above.
  • Mozzarella, Prosciutto, and basil pizza:
  • Rub your pizza bases with olive oil and randomly scatter with pieces of buffalo mozzarella. Rip over some fresh basil and 2 or 3 nice slices of prosciutto or Parma ham, Bake in the oven as above and serve with freshly grated Parmesan.
Directions
Basic Bread Recipe:

1-ounce (30 grams) fresh yeast or 3 (7 gram) packets dried yeast

1-ounce (30 grams) honey or sugar

Just over 1 pint (625 milliliters) tepid water

Just over 2 pounds (1 kilogram) strong bread flour

1-ounce (30 grams) salt

Extra flour, for dusting

Stage 1:

Dissolve the yeast and honey (or sugar) in half the tepid water.

Stage 2:

On a clean surface or in a large bowl, make a pile of the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in all the dissolved yeast mixture. With 4 fingers of 1 hand, make circular movements from the center moving outwards, slowly bringing in more and more of the flour until all of the yeast mixture is soaked up. Then pour the other half of the tepid water into the center and gradually incorporate all the flour to make moist dough. (Certain flours may need a little more water, so don't be afraid to adjust the quantities.)

Stage 3:

Kneading! This is the best bit, just rolling, pushing, and folding the dough over and over for 5 minutes. This develops the gluten and the structure of the dough. If any of the dough sticks to your hands, just rub them together with a little extra flour.

Stage 4:

Flour both your hands well, and lightly flour the top of the dough. Make it into a roundish shape and place on a baking tray. Deeply score the dough with a knife - this allows it to relax and proof with ease. Leave it to proof until it's doubled in size. Ideally you want a warm, moist, draft-free place for the quickest proof, for example near a warm stove, or just in a warm room, and you can even cover it with plastic wrap if you want to speed things up. This proofing process improves the flavor and texture of the dough and should take around 40 minutes, depending on the conditions.

Stage 5:

When the dough has doubled in size, you need to knock the air out of it by bashing it around for a minute. Now you can shape it into whatever shape is required - round, flat, filled, in a loaf pan or whatever - and leave it to proof for a second time until it doubles in size again. The important thing is not to lose your confidence now. Don’t feel a need to rush through this, because the second proofing time will give you the lovely, delicate soft texture that we all love in fresh bread.

Stage 6:

Now it's time to cook your loaf. After all your hard work, don't spoil your efforts. You want to keep the air inside the loaf, so don't knock it. Gently place it in the preheated oven, don't slam the door. Bake according to the time and temperature given in the recipe. You can tell if your bread is cooked by tapping its bottom (if it's in a tin you'll have to take it out). If it sounds hollow it's cooked, if it doesn't then pop it back in for a little longer. Place it on a rack to cool. You're going to love this bread!

Recipe from The Return of the Naked Chef, Penguin Books, 2002

©Jamie Oliver 2002


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