Friday, November 5, 2010

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, thats amore!

For hundreds of years Italy was divided into city states and each was governed individually; therefor regional cuisine quickly emerged, and because the areas were so autonomous, the cuisine did not journey from place to place. This has resulted in various styles and tastes of food in various parts of Italy.

Generally speaking, Italy is famous for pizza, pasta, risotto, Parmesan, salami and soccer (calcio).
Northern Italy is ideal for grazing cattle; so butter, cream, cheese and beef are prominent. Southern Italy is more about the sheep, goats, chicken and oil.

Each place has staked their own claim on the best of something; Milan upholds rights to risotto, Genova has pesto, Tuscany cultivates truffles, Sicily produces all that is juicy in the world of tomato, Puglia hooked the seafood, Bologna claimed tortellini and Naples is renown as the worlds best pizza.

So tonight my husband is treating me to pizza from Naples. Not actually from Naples, rather it is from our kitchen and one weeks Internet research to make the perfect pizza base. His rostered night to cook this week was postponed as he was away in Naples; he returned with a big bag of Mozzarella Buffalo and a big pear shape of Scamorza, (grilled scamorza is a traditional dish in Neapolitan cooking, this is a cheese more commonly made in the south rather than the north).

I think maybe we were off to a rocky start as cooking night was moved to Friday, and Thursday the dough was to be prepared so it could sit. (Research said this would be best!) I looked in the fridge Friday morning, flour was still in the bag and no dough to be seen. Once again I have been proven wrong and was treated to a lovely meal, with a delicious pizza base.

  • 4 1/2 cups unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour (type 00), chilled

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 3/4 cups water, ice cold

  • Semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting


  1. Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a bowl. With a large metal spoon, stir in the oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed. (If you are mixing by hand, repeatedly dip one of your hands or the metal spoon into cold water and use it, much like a dough hook, to work the dough vigorously into a smooth mass while rotating the bowl in a circular motion with the other hand.) Reverse the circular motion a few times to develop the gluten further. Do this for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are evenly distributed, or until your arms hurt too much. If the dough is too wet and doesn't come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a tea- spoon or two of cold water. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky. Your hands will be messy, so mental note, take off your rings first if wearing any.

  2. Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with baking paper and lightly oil . Using a metal dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you are comfortable shaping large pizzas), You can dip the scraper into the water between cuts to keep the dough from sticking to it, sprinkle flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, dip your hands into the flour again.

  3. Dust the counter with flour, and then mist the counter with spray oil. Place the dough balls on top of the floured counter and sprinkle them with flour; dust your hands with flour. Gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil, and cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag. Now let rest for 2 hours.

  4. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone either on the floor of the oven (for gas ovens), or on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven as hot as possible. If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.

  5. Generously dust back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal. Make the pizzas one at a time. Dip your hands, including the backs of your hands and knuckles, in flour and lift I piece of dough by getting under it with a pastry scraper. Very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion on your hands, carefully giving it a little stretch with each bounce. If it begins to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and re-flour your hands, then continue shaping it. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss. If you have trouble tossing the dough, or if the dough keeps springing back, let it rest for 5 to 20 minutes so the gluten can relax, and try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, though this isn't as effective as the toss method.

  6. When the dough is stretched out to your satisfaction (about 9 to 12 inches in diameter for a 6-ounce piece of dough), lay it on the peel or pan, making sure there is enough semolina flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide. Lightly top it with sauce and then with your other toppings, remembering that the best pizzas are topped with a less-is-more philosophy. 3 or 4 toppings, including sauce and cheese is sufficient.

  7. Slide the topped pizza onto the sheet pan and close the door. Poor a glass of wine. Wait 2 minutes, then take a peek. If it needs to be rotated 180 degrees for even baking, do so. The pizza should take about 5 to 8 minutes to bake. If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the tray to a lower self before the next round. if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone for subsequent bakes.

  8. Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving, to allow the cheese to set slightly.

Conclusion; meal was lovely. The base tasted delicious, but perhaps pizza could of been cooked for longer, (was in oven for over 10minutes), think this would of been improved if we had a pizza stone, or a proper pizza flame oven in our kitchen. Hubby kept the topics basic, mozzarella Buffalo and oregano on one and zucchini and anchovy on other; perfecto!! Already asking him what's on the menu for next week...


  1. That looks and sounds Delicious!! Thank you for sharing :)

  2. Go Jav ... that pizza looks delicious!x