How to Prepare an Italian Pizza
Ever thought about making pizza on your own, from scratch? Of course you have, but it's easier said than done, especially if you've never tried and don't have a pizzaiolo at hand to teach you the tricks of the trade. Picking up the right ingredients can be a challenge, even though the mantra "keep it simple, keep it fresh" usually works wonders: really you can't go wrong with it!
Read on to learn how to make pizza at home, the way we make it and rest assured, it'll always be a success!
Pizza dough (same as bread dough):
Prepare the dough by mixing together (with the aid of a bread machine, a mixer or by hand, the good old-fashioned way)
- 1 and ½ cup of warm water
- 1 and ½ tea spoon of salt
- 1 and ½ tea spoon of yeast
- 3 cups of flour
Let rise for about 6 hours and, voilà! Your dough is ready!
How to achieve the perfect pizza crust
Since I assume most of us do not have a wood firebrick oven in the house, I will say the next best thing is the use of a pizza stone in a normal oven. I have had my pizza stone for over 10 years and I use it to make nice crusty breads, as well (bread does not cook well in a bread machine).
The pizza stone will retain heat from the oven and cook the pizza fast without the need for fattening oils so, when baking your pizza, you will not need a greased pan: just put the dough on the pizza stone! The pizza stone also helps distributing the heat evenly on the pizza and, because it is made in terracotta, which is a porous material, it helps drying the moist off the crust, leaving it nice and crispy. The crust will come out dry and 'crusty.'
I had my pizza stone specially made to fit my oven and it is larger and thicker then the one commercially available, so it really makes almost a wood-oven class pizza!
Here comes the tomato sauce
Ok, use either good canned tomatoes (just tomatoes, not any preprepared sauces), or fresh tomatoes if they are available. You can even mix them together, if you want: just put them in a food processor and chop them. Add to them a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil and you are ready to go!
Put the mozzarella in the food processor so you will be able to spread it over the pizza.
Let's roll and bake it
Now use the rolling pin to make a thin layer of pizza crust. What I now suggest to do sounds a little strange but it helps a lot: put the raw pizza (the pizza crust that you just rolled out) by itself in the oven for just 1 minute (reason: if the crust is too soft, it is very difficult to add tomatoes and toppings without ruining it). After 1 minute, remove the pizza dough and apply the tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil. Place the pizza in the oven for about 5 / 6 minutes, until all the mozzarella is nicely melted. Take it out of the oven and serve.
What is nice about this pizza is the unexpected, authentic Italian taste it delivers. Also, there are no added fats or additives to it (like powder garlic, so popular in the Italian American food tradition, but never used in Italy - so you are not allowed to use it!). Anyway, after you practice with a few pizzas I might even give you the permission to try it with different toppings :-)
Always remember that the oven must be at the highest temperature.
Some of my preferred toppings include rughetta (arugola) and mozzarella with cherry tomatoes, radicchio and goat cheese, radicchio and green cheese or gorgonzola, red pizza with anchovies and mozzarella.
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