24 January 2019
When we think of Italy, there are so many fascinations that spring to mind: Gino, Opera, Rome, Venice, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and, of course, Chianti, Pasta, Pizza, Gelato. Today we are talking pizza – originated in Italy, it has become one of Italy’s greatest exports. The love of Pizza has traversed to all corners of the world, especially America and the UK.
Surely there’s nothing better than an authentic Italian pizza? The magical combination of thin pizza crust, a simple sauce of olive oil, tomato and garlic, topped with locally sourced Parma ham or seasonal peppers, aubergines, courgettes or porcini mushrooms, finished off with Italy’s famous mozzarella or parmesan cheese and herbs such as basil and oregano, all cooked in an Italian pizza oven in a matter of minutes.
As pizza has travelled across the world, so the recipe has been modified to suit the tastes of different nations. Consequently, pizza in America is a very different product, with a choice of bases from thin to very thick and, more recently, some even include stuffed crusts. The tomato sauce is slow cooked and there’s a certain twang about it. The choice of toppings is vast, very often meaty, and of course lashings of different types of cheese are added, including Mozzarella.
Our family, with its Italian connections, is very partial to a true Italian pizza and I’d say you can’t beat one freshly cooked in Italy – simply flavoured, eaten while sat in a piazza, with a glass of Chianti, people watching, whilst basking in the sun. An Italian pizza stands out because of its crust and the fresh flavours of the toppings. It is kneaded by hand and the addition of local sourced olive oil adds its own distant flavour too. The dough is left to rest for 4 to 5 hours, knocked back and rolled, twirled, patted and stretched out very thinly, ready for the toppings. The crust is given a final brush with olive oil and then in it goes, into an authentic charcoal pizza oven.
Back in England it’s not quite so easy and of course not everyone has a pizza oven, but Judge have created a pizza stone which goes some way to adding to a pizza’s authenticity. My version of pizza can be made in about 45 mins, with a few cheats and some great equipment from Judge. Here's the recipe, let us know on social media if you like it!
Ingredients – makes 3 x 12" pizzas:
- 1 packet of Wrights 500g Ciabatta bread mix
- 2 table spoons olive oil
- Warm water
For the toppings:
- 4-5 tb spoons passata per pizza
- 8 oz grated mozzarella
- Salami / peppers / mushrooms / toppings of your choice
- Oregano or fresh basil
- Black Pepper
- Put the Pizza stone in the oven and turn the oven to 180°C.
- Mix the ciabatta mix as per instruction, we used the Judge Mixer with its dough hooks. Divide the dough into 3 and roll each to 30 cm diameter.
- Remove the Pizza stone from the oven and add the rolled dough. You should hear it sizzle – gives it a really crisp, authentic bottom. Top with your choice of toppings, starting with passata, finishing with cheese.
- Cook for about 15 mins, until the edges are crispy and the cheese has melted.
- Enjoy with a cold Peroni or glass of Chianti.
For a perfect rustic serve, try out this Stellar beech pizza board. As the Italians say, "Anche l'occhio vuole la sua parte" – literally, the eye wants to be pleased too.