Monday, 25 January 2016

Our own Margherita pizza!

Our Margherita pizza, proudly home-made!

After visiting Rome June last year and tasting a pizza ai funghi at Aquila Nera nearby the Termini Station, I realised what I’ve been missing here. A really good, authentic pizza. I’ve dreamt of that pizza for months now. A few nights ago, we wanted to have a Margherita pizza, hence I browsed for a good recipe for that. I found this. What attracted me to the recipe wasn’t really about the topping, but it’s about the dough. Hence, Round Two for the pizza recipe on this blog (ignore the old post, that dough doesn’t work for me anymore).

300 gr strong bread flour (we use Caputo Red "00" pizza flour)
1 tsp (teaspoon) instant yeast
1 tsp (teaspoon) salt
1 tbsp (tablespoon) olive oil
200 ml warm water (note 31.03.16: these days I just use 170 ml)

Caputo Red "00" pizza flour
1. Put the flour into a large bowl, then stir in the yeast and salt.

2. Make a well, pour in 200 ml warm water (or just use ~170 ml and slowly add more if needed) and the olive oil and bring together with a wooden spoon until you have a soft, fairly wet dough.

3. Turn onto a lightly-floured surface and knead for 5 mins until smooth. Don’t use the food processor. Use your hands because the warmth of your hands give more temperature needed for the yeast to grow

4. Divide the dough into two equal balls, lightly coat them with oil. Put them inside two non-transparent, oiled bowls, cover with tea towels, set aside in a dark place for about 45 min. Covering with tea towel is important to give yeast a better chance to grow. The non-transparent bowl is to prevent light from getting into the dough. The bowl is oiled so that the dough does not stick to the bowl wall. The dough is also oiled so it doesn't form a crust. Plus, I find that it's easier to work on the dough later when its surface is lightly oiled. 

Flattening the pizza dough

1. When the dough is expanded, you'll find that all you need to do is take out one dough carefully so that you don't disturb the shape. It will be already flat-circle-shaped. You don't need to knead it anymore; it's almost ready to shape. 

The two parts of the dough after an hour of sitting in the dark

2. Dust the flat dough with enough flour and flatten it as thinly as possible. Follow this video below on how to shape the dough rounder. Basically, you flatten the floured flat dough and work on it in circular movements with your fingers. If necessary, flip the dough several times between palms to make it thinner (I find that I don't need to do this). 

3. Create a wall around the pizza perimeter with your fingers (see Laura Vitale's tips below on shaping the pizza dough perimeter). You can also follow Laura's tips on stretching the dough as an alternative to the above video. 


1. You don't need to stretch the dough the way Laura does, but if you want to, it's okay too. It's actually fun to do that. I find that I don't need to do that if I divide my dough into two balls before it expands. But before I realised this, I divided my dough into two balls AFTER it expands. Then I had to stretch the dough the way the two videos did to flatten it. I also found Laura's tips on stretching the dough with the knuckles work well, but only if I didn't divide my dough into two balls before yeast expansion. 

Note 31.03.16: These days I just flatten the dough (see photo of the two dough above) and swirl it on a clean, floured, flat kitchen table like Laura does (see second video above). I find that I don't really need to work the dough with my fingers anymore, but I still do that to make the dough thinner.

2. I'd skip Laura Vitale's dough recipe cos it takes two hours for the dough to expand (and 1.75 cups of flour or so for one pizza...). I've tried her dough recipe, and the BBC one I use above is still better. Hers is too filling and attracts ants because it uses sugar.

The dough ready to top

Baking the pizza

1. Preheat the oven on 250 C for fan-forced oven. Preheat the pizza stone for at least 20 min. It has to be very very very hot for the pizza to properly bake!

2. Take the stone out, scatter it with flour. 

3. Place the stretched dough on the pizza stone. Top with passata (we used Val Verde passata), thinly sliced (or shredded) mozzarella (we like the Mainland brand mozzarella) and parmesan. Drizzle with olive oil. Work quickly so that the stone is still hot.

Our unbaked pizza (the mushroom version)


If you have a proper pizza shovel, you don't have to take out the pizza stone. Just make put the ready-to-top dough on top of the pizza shovel, shove the entire pizza into the oven, on top of the stone pizza, and done. But we don't have a good pizza shovel, hence we take out the pizza stone and quickly work on it.

4. Put the pizza on the stone on the middle rack of the oven. Bake the pizza for 7-8 min, or until the cheese bubbles and starts to brown. Rotate the pizza stone once or twice during baking. Don’t over-bake it. IMO, a bit gooey is better than brown/burnt mozzarella.  

The dough is almost everything for a pizza, I've learnt...

About the use of sliced fresh tomatoes for Margherita: some recipes call for sliced fresh tomatoes for topping, some don’t. At the moment, we’re content with not having fresh tomatoes for topping, for it doesn’t make the pizza soggy. Also, we don’t prick the pizza base before inserting it into the oven. I pricked the pizza the first time I tried this recipe, and the pizza turned out so soggy. I was using a homemade passata as well for that soggy pizza, which turned out too wet. Next step is learning how to make a homemade passata properly, but so far, we’re happy with our Val Verde passata.

Also, two years ago I wrote a post on pizza as well. Now I think that dough doesn't work. There's a reason why we haven't been baking pizza for two years, and that was mainly the dough. Although I love Super Food Idea, their dough is too sticky because they put too much oil (2 tbps instead of 1 tbsp) and yeast (the whole 8 gr sachet instead of just 1 tsp), whereas they only put 250 grams of flour for that recipe. Hence, I switch side to BBC Food's dough recipe now. 

And just for the sake of walking down the memory lane... here's Aquila Nera's mushroom pizza that started my journey to hunt the perfect pizza recipe. Italy, as it turns out, a biiiit too far away from Townsville for a dine out...

Aquila Nera's delicious pizza ai funghi...

Update 26 Jan 2016: Pizza ai funghi 

And here's our own pizza ai funghi as we tried it just today! 

Our own pizza ai funghi...

1. Thinly slice a bowl of mushrooms (super thinly sliced!). Season the mushrooms and lightly coat them with olive oil. 
2. Proceed with the pizza dough, heated pizza stone, heated oven to 240 C. 
3. Spread passata over the pizza dough. Scatter shredded mozzarella on top.
4. Scatter sliced, seasoned and oiled mushroom
5. NO NEED to drizzle olive oil anymore cos the mushroom is already coated with oil
6. Bake in the middle of the oven for 7-9 min. Mine was done on minute 8, but just check yours. Again, don't over-bake it; cos you want the pizza to be juicy. 

At least, that's the pizza I like...

Can't believe we created this...


Tamuyen Truong said...

Wow that pizza looks great! Thanks for the recipe Icha! I define you will try this sometime! And it seems your a good cook!

Icha said...

Hahahaha! You're so sweet, Tammy! I'd invite you over if we live in the same town!

I've posted new Margherita and ai funghi pizza photos from today's lunch (improved the Margherita by using shredded mozzarella). I mean it; if we ever meet, and I have access to a kitchen, I'll make a pizza for you!

Oh, and I've posted a happier MV for the Foundation. Check it out!