There's no better meal for a small gathering than homemade, woodfired pizza. We have been working on crafting the perfect pizza dough for some time now, gathering tips and secrets from those who have mastered the trade. It seems that finally, after much practise and frustration, we have perfected the traditional, thin base, Italian pizza.
The key to making great dough, is all in the flour you decide to use. A friend who frequented the Italian supermarkets in Melbourne for a time, suggested we try using Tipo 00 flour. The Italian flour has a high gluten content (11.5 - 12.5%), and ensures the dough will have the preferred elasticity and robustness of a crunchy, thin base pizza. We managed to find some Tipo 00 at the Mediterranean Food Warehouse, in Christchurch, and instantly noticed our pizzas were crunchier than ever.
We were then tipped off that the secret to crafting a dough with authentic texture, is to substitute approximately a quarter of the flour required in your recipe for semolina. The semolina forms a crispy layer on the outside of the dough, leaving the centre chewy and soft.
Olive oil is important in adding flavour base, as well as improving the consistency of the dough, making it easier to stretch out during the forming process. It also stops the dough from drying out as it proves. Terrace Edge Olive Oil is ideal for pizza dough, the rich flavours of the oil give authenticity to the taste, while also preventing any drying out from occuring.
Upon watching a master pizza maker at work, we noticed that they only rolled the dough by hand, never using a rolling pin. Using a rolling pin, as we found out afterwards, compresses the dough, often squeezing out all those air pockets which have been forming as the dough rises. Using your hands to shape and press the dough ensures that the end result will be delightfully light and bubbly.
Any combination of toppings can be used, although we prefer to stick to simple, traditional flavours.
- 2 tsp active dried yeast
- 1 cup of warm water
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2.5 cups of Tipo 00 flour
- 0.5 cups of Semolina (plus a couple of handfuls of semolina for rolling)
Combine yeast, sugar and warm water, mix well, cover and leave for 15mins or longer in a warm place until frothy.
Add the salt, olive oil, Tipo 00 and semolina and knead with the dough hook of an electric mixer, or by hand on a surface sprinkled with semolina, for ten minutes until the dough forms a soft, smooth ball which springs back when gently pressed.
Break the dough in four evenly sized balls (these will be your four pizza bases), turn in oil in a clean dry bowl, cover and leave in a warm draught-free place for an hour or until the dough has roughly doubled in size.
Using your hands, gently knead and mould the dough until it resembles a round, thin pizza base. Ensure that it is well covered on both sides with semolina, to prevent any sticking or superficial burning during the cooking process.
Place the pizza base on a wooden paddle, and cover with your selected toppings, before sliding into the woodfired, or conventional oven, until the dough bubbles up and the cheese is melted. This should take 3-4 mins.