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Bake Like an Italian: How to Make a Perfect Pizza?


28-10-2014 11:45

Margherita or Siciliana? Catherine Fulvio shares her top tips on how to bake a pizza like an Italian!

Naples is the city that we can thank for developing pizzas. These pizzas as we know them had very simple toppings, perhaps a little garlic, olive oil, mozzarella and anchovies. Now, you’ll be tripping over the Pizzerias, some are 180 years in operation with full dining service and others simply just wrap the slices in paper as you stroll about the old Port. Although, there is always something special about making your own pizzas, it isn’t difficult just give yourself time – give the rising process time, knead well, use good quantity toppings and keep it simple.


How to get a thin crust?

  • Let the dough prove slowly – leave it in the fridge for 10 hours before using it and then leave it at room temperature for 1 – 1 ½ hours.
  • If you are using a large rectangle baking tray, drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with semolina.
  • First use a rolling pin to get a large rectangle shape but then stretch it with your hands, moving outwards all the way around. Finally ask someone to help you stretch it onto the baking tray.
  • Allow it to rest for 10 minutes before layering up the topping.
  • If you’re using a round pizza pan or a pizza stone, ensure that the stone is sufficiently hot. This will take 40 minutes at 200°C/fan 180°C/gas>
  • For circular pizza bases, roll the dough out into a basic circle and then using your fingers stretch the dough while moving it around and around achieving the correct size.

 

Pizza Recipe: Classica Margherita

 

Makes 1 large tray

This is the favourite pizza topping of all. The margherita is said to have originated when Queen of Italy, Margherita visited Naples in the late 19th century. The colours, tomato red, mozzarella white, and basil green are said to represent the Italian flag. At home in Ballyknocken we like our margherita bases very thin with loads of good tomato sauce and just a little torn mozzarella over the top. Semolina will help you to be able to roll the base very thinly without sticking.


For the base

 

200g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting

 

1½ tsp fast action dried yeast

 

Pinch of salt

 

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

 

150ml warm water

For the topping

 

300ml classic tomato sauce

 

200g mozzarella, drained, and torn

 

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

 

Fresh ground black pepper

Semolina, for dusting


8 to 10 small basil leaves, to garnish


Brush a large baking tray 40cm x 50cm with olive oil and dust with a little semolina.

 

Brush the mixing bowl for proving the dough with olive oil.

 

Place the flour, yeast and salt into a large mixer bowl. Insert the dough hook attachment. Drizzle in the olive oil and add enough warm water to form soft dough. “Knead” / beat on a medium speed for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in the oiled bowl and cover with an oiled plastic wrap. Leave to double in size in a warm place.

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 4.

 

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface and knead for about 2 minutes. Use a rolling pin to roll out a large rectangle to fit a large tray. Carefully stretch the dough into the tray.

 

To assemble, spread the tomato sauce over the base, season with freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle over the torn mozzarella.

 

Drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden.

 

To serve, sprinkle over the basil leaves.

From classic focaccias and pizzas, to sweet little dolci and grand celebratory cakes - learn more about Italian baking from Catherine Fulvio’s Bake Like an Italian, now available in all good bookshops and our online shop now 20% off RRP (€18.39 discounted from €22.99)!

Follow Catherine (@CFulvio) on Twitter for more exclusive tips & recipes!



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