Notes on my attempts to make the perfect Pizza at home during the covid19 lock down.
There is now an updated article about how the process has changed.
During the hard lock down we couldn’t get Pizza any more, so I decided to attempt to make good home made pizza, rather than the ones you can grab from the grocery store. After lots of experimentation this is my current method that seems to work well for us.
After lots of experimentation I settled on a “New York” style pizza dough recipe, I think the added sugar helps it work better at the lower temps I have to cook at home with.
My recipe is loosely based on this one from Serious Eats - New Your Style Pizza Dough
- 630g White bread flour (about 4 1/2 cups)
- 15g sugar (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
- 10g salt (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 packet (about 10g) instant yeast. (Found Anchor Yeast, purple sachet works best)
- 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil.
- 420g lukewarm water (about 1 3/4 cups)
I start off by mixing the water + sugar in a bowl and stir until the sugar to dissolves then add the yeast and gentle mix it all together. I let this sit for 10-15min, you should see little bubbles etc as the yeast wakes up and starts doing its thing.
Next add the flour, oil and finally the salt and mix. I tend to mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until I can’t stir anymore.
Next I’ll start working the dough in the bowl, this gets messy, and then move to doing it on a counter top adding some flour when necessary (add the four slowly though). I try do a stretchy like motion to the dough and then folding it back on its self.
Once you have a big ball and its all mixed together, you need to separate them into smaller individual balls. I tend to divide it up to 4-5, which gets me approximately 25-30cm Pizza’s depending on how thin I make them.
I then take some air tight containers, put a little olive oil in so the dough doesn’t stick and then put the ball into the container and seal it. These go into the fridge for a night or two. The longer it stays in the fridge the stronger the yeasty flavour is (best way I can describe it)
If you’re in a rush you can just leave them out for a few hours to rise, won’t taste as good but they’re still great
This video has some great info on how to shape a good dough ball for your Pizza.
- Whole Tinned Tomatoes
- Fresh Basil
- Origanum (optional)
- Salt & Pepper
- Olive Oil
Add a healthy glug of Olive Oil to a pot and the add some finely chopped garlic (1-2 cloves) and cook till they turn golden.
Add the tinned tomatoes (suggest you check for stalks, etc before hand).
Add the chopped basil leaves
Allow to simmer until its nicely thickened and then season to taste.
Making the Pizza
Ensure that your dough is at room temperature before making your base.
I tend to use a variation of the ones explained in this video
(Without the throwing in the air, I’m not that brave yet.)
Once I have the base done I put it on a Bamboo cutting board with a little semolina flour under it so that it slides off easily.
I’ve found that the pizza slides off wood better than other surfaces and don’t yet own a wooden Pizza peel.
Cooking the Pizza
The secret to cooking a decent Pizza is to get whatever you’re cooking in as hot as possible and you want the heat to come from both the bottom and the top, ideally you want it hotter on top than the bottom.
My setup is as follows, its not ideal but still produces okay Pizza’s.
Unfortunately I don’t have a proper wood fired Pizza oven yet
I cook my Pizza on a 5 burner gas braai using a small stainless steel oven that fits on the grill.
About 20-30min before I’m going to cook the pizza’s I turn all 5 burners on full, close the lid with the little oven inside and leave it to get hot.
When I want to cook I tend to turn only the 3 burners under the little oven on, outer ones at max and the middle one turned down to 50%. I slide the Pizza in, close the lid of the braai and let it cook.
Cooking times vary a lot, but I normally leave it for 2-3min and then check on it, occasionally I rotate the Pizza so that it cooks more evenly.
After about 5min’s the Pizza is done.
Generally this gets me some nice leopard spotting on the bottom and the cheese should have gotten nice and brown.
The little Pizza Oven will work on most braai’s and doesn’t have to be used on a gas one, actually probably would work better on a good wood fire as you could get the temp higher.
In the past I’ve used a Pizza stone on a Weber Kettle Braai and its worked nicely as well.