Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Making Pizza

Making a pizza should be something everyone does at some point in the kitchen. It is incredibly easy, quick (excluding dough rising time) and such a communal dish. Perhaps not the healthiest, that is of course unless you follow the melted cheese, quick-rise refined flour and low protein diet; however probably everyone's favourite 'junk food'. I have been making them for years. In fact they have are one of the things I have been making since I first started cooking.
I had always cooked them on the thin side resulting in a rather crisp bite and not that filling once shared out. Recently I decided to experiment with a thicker, doughier pizza. I top it with thin slices of potato, sautéed mushroom and chopped parsley - a concoction inspired by a few different pizzas from my local pizzeria and brewery Crate Brewery (though the result is no comparison to theirs, which is undoubtedly the best pizza in London). Unfortunately we didn't have any of their IPA to wash down this pizza, but to be honest we were too busy devouring the most satisfying pizza I had ever cooked to worry about beverages.

Potato and mushroom pizza
Serves 3-4

For the dough:
- Strong white flour, 250g
- dried yeast, tsp
- salt, pinch
- sugar, pinch
- olive oil, tbsp
- warm water, 150-175 ml

For the pizza:
- passata, 3-4 tbsp (or 3/4 tbsp chopped tomatoes, blitzed)
- grated mozzarella, around 200g
- medium potato, very thinly sliced
- chestnut mushrooms, sliced into thirds, handful
- parsley, small bunch
- butter, thin slice,
- garlic cloves, 2
- extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
- dried chilli flakes (optional)
- good grinding of black pepper

To make the dough mix the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl, making a well in the middle. Whisk the yeast into the warm water and leave for a few minutes. Add the oil to the water and gradually pour into the flour. Mix until a ball of dough is formed. Transfer onto a floured or oiled (depending on how you are comfortable kneading dough) surface and leave for about five to ten minutes. With floured hands, knead the dough for ten minutes until a smooth ball is formed. Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with cling-film or a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for at least an hour but preferably two.
When ready to make the pizza, uncover the dough and punch the air out. Transfer to a floured surface and shape into a flat circle. Make a rim around the edge about half an inch thick. Throw the dough around between your hands, keeping the rim in tact and giving it the odd gentle stretch until it forms a pizza base shape. Alternatively, if you are a dough beginner, roll it out into a pizza base shape using a rolling pin.
Preheat an oven to 240 degrees. If you are using a pizza stone (I don't have one) place in the oven to heat up. If not using a pizza stone place the base on a circular baking tray. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium high heat and sauté the mushrooms for around five minutes till cooked. Place to one side. Spread the passata over the pizza base and sprinkle over about a quarter of the cheese. Place the potato slices around the pizza. Peel and thinly slice the garlic and scatter over the pizza along with the cooked mushrooms. Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese. Top with the chopped parsley and black pepper. Place in the oven/on the pizza stone in the oven for around 15 minutes until it is starting to turn golden. When cooked remove from the oven, drizzle over the oil and chilli flakes and allow to cool for a few minutes. Cut into slices and serve.

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