In my family, we've been baking home made pizzas for years, and it's safe to say we're getting better at it. When I was younger, we would basically just use a simple bread dough for the crust, top it with tomato, cheap grated cheese and tons of toppings, and stick it in the oven at 200 degrees for 20-ish minutes. The result would be edible by all means, but more like a focaccia than a pizza. The crust would be a good two centimetres thick, soggy under all the sauce and toppings and soft on the bottom. As I got older and became more interested in cooking, I started searching for the perfect pizza recipe. One morning, I saw a Danish chef cooking his perfect pizza on a Danish morning chat show - I tried his recipe, and I've never looked back. I now know that high heat is essential for a crisp crust, and I never put my pizza in the oven until it has reached its maximum temperature, which is 275 degrees for my oven. The semolina flour helps to get the crust nice and crisp, too.
For the topping, I now always use fresh buffalo mozzarella. I always used to think it was ridiculous to pay four times more for buffalo mozzarella compared to the cheap cow's milk versions. The only reason I though so was that I had never tasted buffalo mozzarella! There is such a huge difference - buffalo mozzarella actually tastes of something, and I think it's well worth the extra money. Other than that I just try to keep the toppings simple, after all, I'm not trying to make a bloody Dominos Extravaganza.
Makes two large pizzas, serves 2-3.
250 ml cold water
10 grams fresh yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp salt
125 grams coarse semolina flour
300 grams tipo 00 flour
2 balls of buffalo mozzarella
Tomato passata (or any tomato sauce which isn't too watery)
Toppings of your choice
Dissolve the yeast in the water, and add sugar, oil and salt. Add the semolina flour and then gradually add the tipo 00 flour, until the dough just stops sticking to your hands and the work surface. You want to keep it as moist as possible to get a nice, crisp crust. Knead the dough well, for 5-10 minutes preferably, then leave to rise for at least one hour, or as long as possible, preferably over night. If you leave the dough over night, let it rise in the fridge.
Get your oven as hot as possible. Mine goes to 275 degrees C. I set my oven to fan and bottom heat, to get the crust crispy without burning the toppings. Leave the baking tray on which you plan to cook the pizza inside the oven while it's heating up, to pre-heat the baking tray as well.
Remove the dough from the bowl and punch it down. Divide it into two pieces, and make one pizza at a time. Dust your work surface with semolina flour - this helps to make the crust crispy. Roll out one portion of dough as thinly as you can. It should be about 5 millimetres thick. Move the rolled out dough onto a cold baking tray lined with baking paper. Spread 3-4 tbsp of tomato passata onto your pizza dough and evenly divide one ball of mozzarella over the top of it. I never slice the cheese but just tear it into pieces. Arrange your toppings over the cheese - I went for fresh tomatoes and black and green olives.
Remove the hot baking tray from the oven and carefully move the uncooked pizza onto it. I normally hold the cold baking tray right next to the hot baking tray and drag the pizza onto it, holding onto the baking paper. If you have a helper at hand though, it is easier to grab all four corners of the baking paper and lift it onto the hot baking tray. Put it back in the hot oven and bake for 5-10 minutes, depending on your oven, until the crust is crisp and golden, and the cheese has melted. Keep and eye on it. Once cooked, sprinkle fresh basil over the pizza.