Friday, 30 November 2012

Pizza - leek/roquefort and sundried tomato/aubergine/mozzarella

Leek and Roquefort pizza
A few years ago, my lovely husband acquired a pizza dough recipe from an Italian friend of his (Guisceppe - I don't suppose you're reading but, if you are, we love you and your pizza recipe!), and we've used it regularly ever since.  It produces perfect (Italian-style, thin crust) pizza every time. 

I reproduce it below as given to us as, frankly, his directions are a lot more precise than mine.

Aubergine, sundried tomato and mozzarella pizza
Usually, we slightly ruin the purity of the recipe by piling it high with all kinds of things.  Oh, we have onions, let's put those on, look we've got half a jar of olives left over from caponata, we'll pile those on, oooh but we have that bit of gorgonzola..  etc, etc.  Our pizzas are usually half pizzas, half mountains.  Anyway. 

This time we decided - for no particular reason - that we'd try to be a bit more focussed and so we we went for one pizza with white sauce, leek and roquefort and one with tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes/aubergines/mozzarella.  We fried up the leeks before putting them on the pizza and roasted the aubergine slices.

They were Good.  

Leek and Roquefort pizza
Sundried tomato, aubergine and mozzarella pizza

Pizza dough

This will make enough dough for 4 pizze, the size depending on how thin you like the base.
Put in a large bowl 500 grams of strong bread flour, add a 7grams sachet of dry yeast and 2-3 teaspoons of salt, if you are in a rush you could add a couple of tsp of sugar to speed up the process, but if you have time and can do without it, you'll get a better dough. Stir the dry mixture with a spoon so that the yeast is everywhere.

Prepare 300ml of hand-warm water. Add 2-3 tablespoons of good extra-virgin olive oil, and the warm water to the mixture and start mixing toghether with a spoon or a spatula. If you have a bread mixer, or a mixer with a dough hook it will be a lot easier!

If you have a bread mixer, just knead the dough in there, and then put it in a lightly greased bowl at least 3 times the size of the dough, put the bowl inside a clean plastic shopping bag and put in a cool place, without droughts, and let it rise for at least 3 hours). If you are going to knead it by hand, once all the mixture has come together tip it on a floured surface and start kneading with you hands. Don't be tempted to add flour, initially it will feel very sticky, particularly if you could not measure your water well and put more than 300ml.

But with patience, it should become smooth, and come off your hands within 5minutes of vigorous kneading, whilst still feeling soft and springy. If after 5-10 minutes is still too sticky then add a couple of tablespoons of flour to you hands and keep kneading for a few minutes to see if gets better, but be carefull that a too big flour/water ratio will result in a not very soft dough even after it has risen, and won't rise as well as a slightly wetter dough.  When you're happy with your dough just follow the procedure I wrote above with the greased bowl, the bag etc.

I usually knead the dough around lunchtime, and start making the pizze (plural :-) ) around 7pm.
When the dough has risen, punch it firmly in the middle, and it will deflate around your fist. It the bowl has been greased with oil everywhere the dough should come off very easily. Tip it on a lightly floured surface and with little flour on your hands gently knead it for a few seconds untill it just deflates completely. Cut the dough in 4 parts and make 4 balls of dough with flour on their outside so that they don't stick to your hands. Put them on a floured surface to rest for a few minutes while you prepare the tomato sauce. (I use chopped tomatoes from a tin, and add e.v.olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper, and mix)

Prepare your toppings, and pre heat the oven at max (230 degrees Celsius). Let the oven reach this temperature before baking the pizza.

Take one ball at a time, and with you hand (or a rolling pin for a thinner base) spread it flat-tish) Lightly grease the pizza pan, and keep spreading the base on it. (obviously if you are not going to use individual pizza pans but rather a large low oven roasting tin, you may want to plit the douth just into two rather than 4, or keep it all together for a higher base)

Anyway, put some oil also on your hands, and keep spreading out the base on the pan. When you feel it is not spreading any more, let it rest for a minute and then tackle it again until you cover the pan completely.

Then add the tomato sauce with a spoon and spread evenly on the base. If you like the crust leave 1/2 inch of border uncovered. Drizzle with a little e.v. olive oil, and bake it in the oven for about 10 minutes, then take it out, add the mozzarella and you other toppings, and bake again for further 5 minutes until the mozzarella has completely melted.

If you use fresh Italian mozzarella, or better buffalo mozzarella, slice it in the morning and put it in a sieve over a bowl, and let it getting rid of excess liquid so that it feels more dry when you put it on the pizza, otherwise it will flood the pizza and make it soggy.

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