SOURDOUGH PIZZA

With Father’s day just around the corner I thought I would share one of my favourite recipes for the whole family to get involved, creating a special occasion out of something very simple. Fire up the barbecue, ditch the burgers and try something different this year. Making pizza on the barbecue gives it a gorgeous crust, replicating the effects of the best wood-burning ovens. It is a lot easier than most people think. The key is to have a solid pizza stone that is safe to sit on the grills of a lid-down barbecue such as a Webber, and I use a Big Green Egg as you can control the temperature easily. However, if you don’t want to try this method, the results can be just as good in your oven. The key is to use a pizza stone and get the thin-crust pizza hot enough to crisp the crust without burning the toppings.

A great pizza base is key. The goal for mixing this sourdough pizza dough is to develop quite a bit of strength in the dough, more than I would with traditional sourdough bread. You can certainly use a mixer for this dough, such as a KitchenAid stand mixer if you have one, or you can do things by hand. I’ve done it both ways and the outcome has been similarly fantastic. Either way the end result will be a dough that’s almost, but not completely, smooth and very strong-feeling.

Pizza Bases

Makes 2 pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 285g 00 pasta flour
  • 32g whole grain rye flour
  • 9g salt
  • 212g water at room temperature
  • 47g sourdough ferment starter or 1 x 7g sachet of fast-action yeast

Method:

Add all the ingredients together, except the salt, into the bowl of your kitchen mixer or large mixing bowl if you are not using one. Mix for 2 to 3 minutes using the dough hook or for five minutes by hand until fully combined.  Add the salt. Knead the dough using the dough hook for 4 minutes or by rolling it backwards and forwards, using your hands to stretch and pull the dough. Keep kneading for 10 minutes, or until you have a smooth, springy, soft dough. Place the kneaded dough into a bowl that has been lightly greased with olive oil and leave in a warm place to prove for 30 minutes, or until it’s doubled in size. Divide into two balls, lightly dust with flour, cover loosely with oiled cling film and set aside while you prep your sauce.

Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 sprigs each of thyme, oregano and basil
  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

This is my go-to tomato sauce for just about every pizza I make and the leftovers can make a simple mid-week pasta sauce. Sweat the onion and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and reduce by half. Add the tomatoes and bring the pan to a gentle boil. Simmer for 4 minutes, allowing the natural sugars to develop. Add the herbs, season to taste and take off the heat, allowing to cool. Blend until smooth.

Pizza

Sourdough pizza with Parma ham, salami, sun-blushed tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers.

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices of Parma ham
  • 8 slices of salami
  • 1 ball of Mozzarella split into 16 pieces
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • 6 whole button mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 sun-blushed tomatoes, halved
  • A few sprigs of fresh oregano and basil
  • 50g grated Cheddar
  • rocket to finish

Pre-heat your barbecue (400°C) until the flames have died down, or your oven (250°C or as hot as it will go). Place your pizza stone inside to heat up.

You can, of course, pick your own toppings. I have opted for these as they create a really enjoyable balance of flavours. The peppers give an unexpected, but not overpowering, burst of sweetness that pairs incredibly well with the savoury and salty flavours of the Parma ham and salami.

Method:

To build the pizzas, dust a clean kitchen surface with a little flour or semolina, take one of the dough balls and roll it out into a rough circle about the thickness of a pound coin.  Spread the sauce evenly around the pizza in a circular fashion while keeping a 1” border clean around the outer edge of the dough (this will be the crust). Then place your toppings in an even distribution over the sauce – be careful not to overload the base. Slide your prepared pizza on to the pizza stone in the oven or on the barbecue and close the lid/oven door. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until the crust is bubbling and the toppings are beginning to crisp. When baked, slide the pizza onto a large chopping board, dress with the rocket and repeat with the second pizza. 

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