AUTHENTIC ITALIAN PIZZA
Pizza has to be one of the world’s most loved and eaten foods. And guess what? You can be your very own pizza chef! You will be amazed how a little elbow grease and a few simple ingredients lovingly prepared will lead to you having created one of the worlds most delicious foods.
Sitting quietly in a little cobbled laneway off one of the bustling main squares in the centre of Florence Italy. I took a sip of the eloquently poured Chianti and I can feel my heart is racing. I'm 23 and have just ordered my first pizza in ITALY! Dreams do come true!
As a kid the only pizza we ever had was from Pizza Hut as a special treat, usually on a rare Friday night when mum would go to a Greenpeace rally and dad had to look after all us kids.
So you can imagine my surprise in Florence when the waiter brought me my pizza and it looked nothing like a supreme or pepperoni pizza. It was a super thin base for a start, had basically no toppings and a little fresh rocket sprinkled on top. I had to sort of fold it to eat it but it was incredibly delicious. So this was how the Italians do it I learned that day.
In it's simplest form, pizza can be described as an oven-baked flatbread topped with sauce and cheese, but the pizza has become so much more than that since its humble beginnings. It's said that pizzas origins can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks, who would adorn their breads with ingredients like oil, herbs and cheese, in a crude version of the now illustrious dish.
The etymology of the word ‘pizza’ itself is, of course, Italian, with the first recorded use of the word dating back to a Latin text from Gaeta in southern Italy, around 997 AD. Going even further back, the word can be traced to the Ancient Greek work pikte, the Latin picta, or the Old High German word bizzo or pizzo, meaning mouthful. As is the case with many modern words nobody is exactly sure where it originated from.
The modern flatbread pizza was born in Itlay, Naples, around the end of the 19th century. Popular legend goes on to say that the classic pizza Margherita was invented in 1889 when Raffaele Esposito, a famous pizza maker, was commissioned to create a dish for Queen Margherita. Of the three different types of pizza he made for her, the Queen preferred the one that best represented Italy with red tomato sauce, white mozzarella and green basil such are the colours of the Italian national flag. Thus the modern margherita pizza was born.
This recipe is great to get the kids involved so why not let them have a mix of the dough, spread on the pizza sauce and sprinkle on the cheese before they choose their favourite toppings. For all you BBQ sauce fans add some CAPTAIN KIDD spiced rum BBQ sauce to the dinner table for a Aussie twist on the classic Italian.
PREP TIME: 60 mins
COOKING TIME: 25 mins
SERVINGS: 2 large pizzas
350ml warm water
Pinch of caster sugar
2 tbsps (14g/2 sachet) dried yeast
600g bakers flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil, plus extra for brushing
Pizza sauce or tomato paste
Toppings of your choice
Cherry tomatoes or rocket to garnish
1 tbsp of GAUCHO or 2 tbsps of CAPTAIN KIDD spiced rum BBQ sauce
Combine the water, yeast and sugar in a small jug . Set aside for 5 minutes or until it begins to foam.
Add the bakers flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture and oil. Use a round-bladed knife in a cutting motion to mix until the mixture is combined.
Use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.
Brush a bowl lightly with oil.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in the prepared bowl and turn to coat in oil.
Cover with biodegradable or reusable cling wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place to rise for ~30 minutes or until dough doubles in size.
Dust work surface with flour. Knead dough and form into an even looking cylinder and divide in half.
Use a rolling pin to roll each pizza into a 20-30cm disc.
Put the rolled out dough onto a baking tray lined with baking paper which helps keep the pizza from sticking and repeat.
Spread with pizza sauce, add pizza cheese and your favourite toppings.
Bake for 12-18 mins at 210°C. You may be lucky enough to own a wood-fired pizza oven or fancy trying your hand using a pizza stone on your Weber.
Check pizzas. Note: In a conventional oven swap pizzas around from top to bottom.
Sprinkle with GAUCHO or drizzle with CAPTAIN KIDD spiced rum BBQ sauce, crack open an Italian red and enjoy.