Pizza is one of our favorite Friday evening dishes. I have tried many recipes to find the best dough that has a thin, crispy crust and a soft inside and always shamefully end up return to Jamie Oliver's recipe. There are other very good recipes out there but a lot of them require preparation a day ahead of time, and sometimes you want home-made Pizza right away. Also, I recommend investing in a Pizza Stone (it's less than one order of take-out Pizza) it'll be worth it.
5 cups strong white bread flour (800 g)
2 cups finely ground semolina flour (200 g)
1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
2 (1/4-ounce) packets active dried yeast (2x7 g)
1 tablespoon raw sugar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups lukewarm water (650 ml)
Prosciutto di Parma or Serrano
Preheat your oven to 250 C/500 F one hour prior to baking with the Pizza Stone in the upper third of the oven. (I put my stone on the top rack)
Sift the flours and salt onto a clean work surface and make a well in the middle. In a large measuring cup, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.
Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about 1 hour until the dough has doubled in size.
Now remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead it around a bit to push the air out with your hands - this is called punching down the dough. You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in plastic wrap, in the fridge (or freezer) until required. If using straightaway, divide the dough up into as many little balls as you want to make pizzas - this amount of dough is enough to make about six to eight medium pizzas.
Timing-wise, it's a good idea to roll the pizzas out about 15 to 20 minutes before you want to cook them. Don't roll them out and leave them hanging around for a few hours, though - if you are working in advance like this it's better to leave your dough, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator. However, if you want to get them rolled out so there's 1 less thing to do when your guests are round, simply roll the dough out into rough circles, about 1/4-inch thick, and place them on slightly larger pieces of olive-oil-rubbed and flour-dusted aluminum foil. You can then stack the pizzas, cover them with plastic wrap, and pop them into the refrigerator.
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced a bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked and torn
3 x 400g tins of good-quality, whole plum tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place a large non-stick frying pan on the heat and pour in 4 generous glugs of olive oil. Add the garlic, shake the pan around a bit and, once the garlic begins to color lightly, add the basil and the tomatoes. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mush and squash the tomatoes as much as you can.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper. As soon as it comes to the boil, remove the pan from the heat. Strain the sauce through a coarse sieve into a bowl, using your wooden spoon to push any larger bits of tomato through. diskard the basil and garlic that will be left in the sieve, but make sure you scrape any of the tomatoey goodness off the back of the sieve into the bowl.
Pour the sauce back into the pan, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes to concentrate the flavors. It will be ready when it’s the perfect consistency for spreading on your pizza.
Store the sauce in a clean jar in the fridge – it’ll keep for a week or so. Also great to freeze in batches or even in an ice cube tray, so you can defrost exactly the amount you need. But to be honest, it’s so quick to make, you might as well make it on the day you need it.
When you're ready to cook them, smear the tomato sauce thinly over the pizza base and scatter over some small pieces of mozarella (optional). Cook until crisp and golden 7 - 10 minutes. Scatter the prosciutto, halved tomatoes and ruccola over the pizza and serve.