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Authentic Thin Crust Pizza

05/10/2010 by Maria

This week’s recipe was inspired by a ‘Jamie At Home’ episode where he made pizza & calzone in his kitchen oven followed by a massive ‘quattro gusti’ (four corners) pizza in his outdoor wood oven.

I love an authentic, thin-style, crispy, chewy pizza crust. It’s nearly impossible to find locally.. and so the best thing to do is to make your own. Thing is, there are more recipes for pizza bases than there are actual pizza toppings. Jamie (Oliver) himself has varied his recipes over the years (depending on which cookbook or article you read). This recipe is my favourite and I’ve tweaked the method a little bit to make it easier for us home-chef’s. Jamie makes his pizza dough directly on a bench-top (counter-top if you’re from the U.S.). I may have done this successfully years ago (from memory), but my weekend ‘well’ effort was a disaster and I had to revert to a big bowl for my dough. So my advice is: just stick with a bowl. After planning and shopping for lovely pizza ingredients like prosciutto.. and real, buffalo-milk mozarella.. I became quickly deflated when yeasty water started gushing all over the bench, onto me and onto the floor. I nearly threw the kitchen-towel in.. but persisted.. improvised… & made more yeast starter etc. Just as well I did because the pizza’s were a winner & the family kept going back for more. That’s always a nice feeling.. when the people you cook for, want more! I hope I can convince someone reading this to make their own dough and sauce.. because they’re straight forward, easy recipes and SO delicious!

The dough recipe makes 6 medium-sized pizza’s (quite generous) and I made 3 kinds.. without a ‘Supreme’ or ‘Hawaiian’ in sight!

Pizza #1: Prosciutto, buffalo mozarella, ‘light’ mozarella cheese & homemade tomato sauce
Pizza #2: ‘Special Bianco Oil’ which was garlicky extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest & juice, baby capers, anchovies & chilli flakes + light mozarella cheese

Now.. for those of you who cringe at the thought of an anchovy.. let me tell you, my daughter hates the sight of them and same with capers. However, Pizza #2 was almost like a cheesy, garlic pizza for my fussy girl’s palate.. and it was her favourite. She couldn’t get enough of this no-tomato-sauce ‘bianco pizza’. The small amount of marinated anchovies & capers lend a slight salty, flavour-kick to the topping. The key is: restraint with ingredients

Pizza #3 was slices of spicy cabanossi sausage (sliced on the diagonal), homemade tomato sauce, mozarella cheese & halved kalamata olives

But before I give you the dough & sauce recipes I’d like to share some food photo’s from last week. We had the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in town last week and my girl & I made two trips into town during this time (which required advance planning.. as major roads were closed to traffic). A local park in town was set up with some market stalls, food stalls, a big TV screen, stage (for music acts) etc.. and it was there that we sampled some ‘international fare’.

Near the finishing line, Moorabool Street (Geelong, Victoria).

Creole fish taco with smokey bbq sauce & coleslaw $9 (from Cajun Kitchen)
There were 3 ‘nuggets’ of battered Hoki in this pita bread ‘taco’ which was more like a souvlaki or wrap. I couldn’t taste any garlic aioli, there was too much bbq sauce & the coleslaw made the whole thing cold. There were plenty of nice, fresh flavours in this.. but it let me down in a few area’s.

The two photo’s above are mobile phone photo’s (I didn’t realise yet that I had my camera in my bag). We bought one paella to share between us. Cost: $10. It included 4 or 5 tiny mussels, 3 king prawns, some peas.. and not much else. I was hoping for some chunks of chorizo..but instead I think there were some chopped octopus tentacles that reminded me of broccoli stalks for some reason. It wasn’t the worst ‘street paella’ I’d ever tasted.. it was only ‘so-so’.. and it could have been a bit warmer. It was stone-cold by the time my girl had finished it. There weren’t any crowds on this day and the paella was sitting in a giant pan.. waiting for a paying customer. I think ‘fresher’ would have been better.
Found my camera.. took the 1st photo of the day, being ‘empty paella plate’.
Paella source. Not much was on offer here.. I recall a whole chorizo sausage dish.. but only about 3 or 4 items on the menu in total.
After some time in town (a little shopping) & watching the cycling, we tried this new dish on Black Bull’s menu (which doesn’t appear online yet). Black Bull is a Spanish/Tapas restaurant, also on Moorabool Street.. the cyclists raced right past it. This dish is deep-fried camembert with some sort of jam or fruit jelly.. coffee soil (YES SOIL.. that pretentious food trend..!) & spice/fruit toast. Being only the two of us.. it was too much food (yes, my eyes are bigger than my stomach).. so only a third of this was eaten.. if that.

As rich as it was.. the flavours blended well. The coffee soil had the texture of brown sugar..but wasn’t as sweet (thank goodness). Somehow the coffee complimented the cheese!

Churro’s. (Spanish doughnuts with warm chocolate sauce), 5 pieces = $12 -Later I learned that Black Bull were doing ‘takeaway churro’s’ for $5 (4 pieces)… waaaah! I paid too much! Only during ‘cycling championships week’ however.

Ok, onto this week’s pizza recipe!

Authentic Thin Crust Pizza

-800grams Type ’00’ flour (I bought mine in Woolworths)..also known as ‘strong flour’
-200 grams fine semolina (or semolina flour).. I buy ‘Tasty’ brand semolina from IGA supermarkets.. which is superfine in texture
-1 teaspoon table salt (not flakes or coarse)
-2 x 7g sachets dried yeast
-1 tablespoon caster sugar
-700ml’s water (lukewarm) – it’s critical for this water not to be hot or cold
-Preferably in a plastic jug or bowl (with a 1.2 litre capacity), make your yeast starter by mixing yeast with warm water and caster sugar
-Cover with plastic wrap loosely and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes until it rises a little and is bubbly
-In a large bowl, add your flour (both kinds) & salt, then pour in your activated yeast starter, while mixing with a fork. It’ll look lumpy and get harder to mix.
-Dust your hands with flour and start forming the dough into a ball
-On a bench or board lightly dusted with semolina.. start kneading your dough
-Your dough will start to feel more ‘elastic’ and soft/smooth as you knead it more and more
-Knead for 10min’s in total
-Place ball of dough into bowl, lightly dust with flour, cover lightly with plastic food wrap and put in a warm place away from drafts
-I wrapped an old quilt cover around my bowl and put it on the couch! (See blog photo’s)
-Leave dough for half an hour to one hour (it’ll rise in this time)
-When ready to use, divide dough in half.. and then cut each half into three pieces
-Roll six pieces of dough into six balls of dough
-Using a rolling pin, roll out each ball of pizza dough (one at a time, as you make each pizza) to resemble whatever shape tray you’ll be using, it doesn’t need to be perfectly round
-In warm weather, put balls of dough in fridge when not in use.. I had mine on the bench, lightly dusted with flour and lightly covered in plastic wrap, so as not to dry out
-Before making pizza, always heat your pizza tray in a preheated oven at 230 to 250 degree’s celcius until it’s very hot
-When the pizza tray comes out, quickly brush with oil and throw on your raw pizza base.. stretching it with your fingers to cover the whole tray
-Dollop a couple of tablespoons of homemade tomato sauce and then add your toppings.. keeping in mind.. less is more (see above blog notes for suggested toppings that I used)
-Cook each pizza for 7 to 10 minutes… however.. for half of that time, use the pizza tray, then with the help of some tongs or an egg flipper, remove the tray from your oven and let the pizza cook directly on your oven rack for the last five minutes or so. You can slide the finished pizza back onto your tray when removing from oven.
Quick, homemade tomato sauce for pizza
-1 large clove of garlic, thinly sliced
-Leaves from half a bunch of fresh basil
-2 tins tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes, you can use crushed or just break up whole, tinned tomatoes)
-1 level tablespoon caster sugar
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-Oil for frying garlic
-Heat oil in pan, add sliced garlic
-After 30 seconds of ‘sizzling garlic’ (not too much longer), add basil leaves, stir, then add tinned tomatoes
-Add caster sugar and salt
-If your tomatoes need crushing, use a potato masher or fork to break them down in your pan or saucepan
-Bring sauce to boil, stir, then reduce heat and simmer for around 20 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened
-Set aside tomato sauce to cool
-Use a couple of tablespoonful’s of sauce per medium-sized pizza
I wouldn’t use a metal bowl for pizza dough (too cold)..but my plan at this stage was to use the kitchen bench (counter) for dough making.
In goes the dried yeast and sugar… now it just needs stirring and a light ‘lid’ of plastic food wrap.
Oops, I only have a one litre plastic jug (from my old ‘Bamix’).. so the yeast starter overflows a little.. I also left it a bit longer than I should have.
I’m planning to put my yeast starter in here.. and bit by bit incorporate the flour. The aim is, NOT to allow a litre of liquid to pour all over the bench.. The ‘well’ cannot break!
Lookin’ good! The size of the well seemed perfect.. but my fork-mixing technique must have been lacking because pretty soon.. the ‘well’ broke in multiple places and yeasty water poured onto the floor.. and onto me.. it was rather upsetting!
A bit of a rescue attempt. I plonked as much flour/dough mixture as I could into a plastic bowl.. and it was time to clean up the bench and the floor..and make more yeast starter!

After getting my ball of dough (eventually), I knead it for 10 minutes and put it aside to rise.

Sizzling garlic.. then in goes the basil, tomatoes, salt & sugar…

Reducing the sauce… approximately 20 minutes.
The ‘Bianco Sauce’.. more like an olive oil topping that goes with cheese. In this we have 4 anchovies (halved lengthways), a heaped tablespoon of baby capers, a pinch or two of dried chilli flakes, two squeezes of lemon, some lemon zest (about a teaspoon) and oil. I used some rice bran oil mixed with garlic olive oil (about 1/4 cup in total). Mix together and use instead of tomato sauce and top with grated mozarella cheese.
Proper buffalo milk mozarella.. I was thrilled to find this at Woolworths.. however this 100gram portion was around $7 to $8 from memory. It was far superior to any bocconcini in brine or oil that I’ve tried from a supermarket. You break this up with your fingers and dollop it over your pizza in chunks. I used this portion for two pizza’s.
Kind of looks like a giant, poached egg eh?

Dough has risen and is ready!

Before I mixed the rice bran oil and the extra virgin garlic, olive oil.. I took the photograph so you could see the contrasting hue’s of greeny-gold. My tomato sauce (hand-on-my-heart) has not been altered in any photoshop program.. it looks so red in the photo’s.. like they’re cooked red capsicum’s (pepper’s) or something?
Pizza ready for the oven.. buffalo mozarella & ordinary ‘light’ mozzarella.. tomato sauce and some shaved proscuitto.
Pizza with spicy cabanossi, tomato sauce, mozarella & kalamata olives.
Pizza with ‘Bianco Sauce’.. being mozarella and a garlic oil mixture that includes baby capers, a few anchovies, lemon zest and lemon juice.


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