Makes: 4 large pizzas
Time to mix & knead: 20 minutes proving
Time to cook: 15 minutes
1 × 7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast
½ tablespoon golden caster sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
300ml lukewarm water
500g Tipo ‘00’ flour or strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
50g finely ground semolina flour
This dough is flexible, smooth and fun to play with – press it with your fingertips, bash it, fold it and throw it around the tabletop. Using finely ground Tipo ‘00’ flour gives a more elastic dough, making it easier to stretch, though you can also use strong white bread flour. Sandy semolina clings to the base and crisps just enough for crunch and chew, while soaking up the juices of the topping to give way to a doughy droop that moves your head to your chin to catch it. The best party food, knocked up in no time.
Freeze the dough at the stage just before you roll it out – it will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months – and defrost to continue with the recipe.
1. Mix the yeast, sugar, oil and half the lukewarm water together and set aside for 10 minutes to fizz and froth. Combine the flour and salt together in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the yeast mix and the rest of the warm water into the well and gradually beat in the flour with a fork, until the dough starts to come together. Knead in the bowl for 5–10 minutes, until the dough is soft and elastic. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour, until almost doubled in size.
2. Knock the dough back on a lightly oiled surface and roll it into 4 little balls. You can wrap it in clingfilm at this stage and either leave it in the fridge for up to 3 hours, until ready to use, or freeze it, defrost and allow to rise for use another day.
3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Scatter the table with the semolina. Flatten each ball of dough into a circle, pressing it out with your fingertips, and stretch with a rolling pin into 4 × 0.5cm thick circles. Use a 20cm cake tin base as a guide if you like. Oddly shaped pizzas are fun too.
4. Place the rolled dough on an oiled piece of foil or a floured baking sheet, spread thinly with tomato and add your favourite toppings (see here). Slide on to a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, until the edges and base of the pizzas are crisp.
5 utterly luscious pizza toppings:
• Add thinly sliced lardo or pancetta, blanched and squeezed chard, chopped red chilli and a generous grating of Parmesan.
• Mix capers and chopped anchovy into torn mozzarella and scatter over the pizza topping liberally. Best served tomato-free.
• Spread a light-tasting tomato passata on to the pizza base, grate over smoked ricotta with mozzarella if you like, and scatter small bits of creamy ’nduja over the top. Add rocket after baking.
• Blanch kale, squeeze out the extra juices and add to a tomato and mozzarella pizza. Crack an egg in the middle and bake. Drizzle with chilli oil.
• For more of a tear and share side, dollop pesto on to a white pizza base and scatter with Parmesan and garlic oil. Season generously and bake.