I am now making “proper pizza” – pizza cooked in a high heat source, fillings cooked on top of the base. Last time I made proper pizza, I borrowed the antique stove of my friends in the Southern Highlands:
This time I used my barbecue with a lid and a temperature gauge as the oven. You can really heat up the barebecue very high and get great crusty pizza!
I have used Jamie Oliver’s recipe – it’s really straighforward and easy to follow – with some tweaks of my own.
The quantity below gives you 4 small pizzas, enough for 2. Doubling the quantities gives you pizzas for 4.
500g strong white bread flour
1/2 level tablespoon fine sea salt
1×7 g sachet dried yeast
1/2 tbs caster sugar
325 ml lukewarm water
Semolina for dusting
Pile the flour and salt on to a clean surface and make a well in the centre. Add yeast and sugar to the lukewarm water, mix up with a fork and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well.
Using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix into the water. Continue to mix, bringing in all the flour. When the dough comes together and becomes too hard to mix with your fork, flour your hands and begin to pat it into a ball.
Knead the dough by rolling it backward and forward, using one hand to stretch the dough toward you and the other hand to push the dough away from you at the same time. Repeat this for 10 minutes, until you have a smooth, springy, soft dough.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let double in size for about 1 hour.
Divide the dough into 4 balls. Flour and cover each ball with plastic wrap, and let it rest for about 15 minutes. This will make it easier to roll it thinly.
Take a piece of the dough, dust your surface and the dough with a little flour or semolina, and roll it out into a rough circle about 0.5cm thick. Tear off an appropriately sized piece of tin foil, rub it with olive oil, dust it well with flour or semolina and place the pizza base on top. Do the same with the other pieces and then, if you dust them with a little flour, you can pile them up into a stack and cover them with cling film.
Preheat your barbecue till very hot (at least 250 degrees C) with the lid closed. Heat 2 baking sheets in the barbecue.
Put two of the rolled-out dough rounds onto each of two baking sheets, scattering each sheet with a dusting of semolina first. At this stage you can apply your topping. Smear the tomato sauce over the base of your pizzas and spread it out to the edges. Scatter over your fillings, tearing the mozzarella into rough pieces. Drizzle with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Put the baking sheets onto the barbecue, lid down. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the pizzas are golden and crispy.
Easy Tomato Sauce Or Passata
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1/2 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked and torn
3 x 400 tinned plum tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper
Place a large non-stick frying pan on the heat and pour in a couple of generous lugs of olive oil. Add the garlic, shake the pan around a bit and, once the garlic begins to colour 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. Discard 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 flavours. 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 , so you can defrost exactly the amount you need.
Fillings for Pizza
Anything goes! You can start your pizza off with the tomato passata, or go for a white pizza (bianca). Cheese is almost always good and mozzarella makes for a beautiful gooey pizza. Add anything you think will work!
I made two tomato, mozzarella and basil pizzas, basically a pizza margherita, and for the other pizzas I added passata, artichoke heart, caramelized onion and a simple scattering of thyme leaves.