A Little Pizza Heaven

You had me at pizza.

Granted, it is easier to buy a base or a pizza in a box. And, picking up the phone and ordering a cooked pizza – even easier. But (big but) after making your own and sampling a little pizza heaven, Friday night pizza will never be the same. When you make your own pizza, you can be sure of the quality of the ingredients and the dough’s fermentation time.


The prove is in the pizza.

The texture, depth of flavour, and digestibility(1) are down to the proving – the fermentation.  The dough should be left to ferment for at least 8 hours  – 24 fermentation in the fridge is best. During this time, the yeast breaks down the carbohydrates (its food) and produces carbon dioxide which causes the dough to rise. At the same time, the interlocking proteins gliadin  and glutinen, which make up gluten, are degraded by the lactic acid bacteria (LAB). A long slow prove will break down more of the gluten peptides (chains of amino acids) – making them easier to digest(2,3). And, when dough is allowed to prove slowly the yeast and bacteria will produce  more lactic acid which gives the finished pizza that distinctive sourdough-like flavour. Good things come to those who wait.


nota bene: When it comes to the sauce, the Italians I know do not smother their pizzas with cooked tomato sauce – you simply need to blitz good Italian tinned tomatoes with a pinch of salt .

makes 2 x 12″ pizza bases

306g ’00’ flour (e.g. Caputo cuoco) – a finer flour with a higher gluten content
Scant 2tsp of fine sea salt
Scant ½tsp active dry yeast
202ml lukewarm water
1 tsp olive oil

toppings for 1 Margherita pizza

a drizzle of olive oil
3-4 tablespoons fresh tomato sauce
A few basil leaves
125g mozzarella

makes 7 x 12″ sourdough pizza bases

1kg ’00’ flour (e.g. Caputo cuoco) – a finer flour with a higher gluten content
630g of filtered water; 20 – 23ºC
150g starter; 3 -5 hours after feeding (with scant 1½tsp active dry yeast if needed**)
20g extra virgin olive oil
30g fine sea salt

** If your starter has been hibernating in the fridge for too long and you only have 2 days to bring it back to life (been there!) it may need a helping hand.

toppings for 1 garlic bread with mozzarella

10g butter; melted
2 fat cloves of garlic crushed
good pinch of sea salt flakes
125g mozzarella

  1. Dissolve the yeast in the water and add the olive oil.
  2. Put the flour into a large bowl and stir in the salt before making a well in the centre.
  3. Pour in the wet mix and stir the mixture together to form rough dough.
  4. Knead in the bowl for 3 minutes. Rest uncovered for 15 minutes (giving the dough time to autolyse), before kneading again for 3 minutes. The dough should now be silky smooth and spring back when prodded.
  5. Divide into 2 & roll into balls. Place each ball in a plastic bag – twist to seal. Place in the fridge for a slow prove for 24 – 48hrs. After proving, any you are not going to use can be frozen – for up to 2 months.

topping time…

  1. If your dough has been proving in the fridge, bring it out 2 hours before using.
  2. To create the base, place the dough ball on flour dusted surface. Using your fingers, gently push out the dough to create a rough circle. Then pick the dough circle up by the edge and let gravity do its thing – move your  fingers around to create a rough 12″ base – nice and thin in the centre, slightly thicker around the edge.
  3. Preheat your oven to its highest temperature with a pizza stone on the centre shelf. FYI: Wood-fired pizza ovens can reach 485ºC and cook pizzas in 60-90 seconds!
  4. For a Margherita pizza: spoon on the tomato sauce and spread it in a circular motion. Add a few basil leaves and drizzle over a little olive oil before tearing and placing the mozzarella.
  5. Transfer to the pizza stone – if you don’t have a peel, you can place the pizza on a semolina dusted sheet of baking parchment and transfer it on that. Baking times vary so keep an eye on it – we are looking for colour on the crust – maybe some leopard spots – and bubbly cheese.
  6. Transfer to a wooden board and then cut.
  7. Enjoy.


A Little Pizza Heaven

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A Little Pizza Heaven

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