December 19, 2011

Pizza (with Sourdough Starter)

I learnt a lesson this weekend.  A lesson in life that I shouldn’t take notice of too closely, cos well, it’s not a good one.  But it made me feel better about a massive failure.  The failure – gingerbread cookies.  The lesson – stick to what you know.  What do I know – Italian food.

When it comes to baking (I will talk about the gingerbreads soon, promise), I've learnt it’s good to stick to the recipe because someone has worked hard to figure out the exact quantities so you have a baking success.  If you’re confident, change them around!  If you know that something will work better, then give it a try.  If you’re awesome, make up a recipe from scratch (so jealous if this is you!).  Me, I need to follow the recipe, and sometimes I can change things.  I’m slowly gaining experience in baking, enough to know how it all works.

Italian food, that’s a whole other ball game!  I know Italian food, and so should a lot of people, cos let’s be honest, it’s the easiest food to make and the hardest to stuff up.  If I get an idea in my head I’m confident enough to run off with it and play.  There’s olive oil, sea salt, garlic and tomatoes.  Basic.  Throw in a couple more ingredients – pasta, onion, basil, oregano, pepper, rice, meat etc, and there you have it, a meal, or two or three.  You know all the ingredients go together, and you can make it to your style buy adjusting quantity.  Well, this is how I feel about it anyway.

Which leads me to this recipe. 

My cousin Stefan gave me some of his yeast starter a while back, and since then have been making loaves of sourdough.  It’s awesome and dense and full of flavour!  I’ve been meaning to make pizza for a while now, and when I picked up a cheap pizza stone recently, my first Sunday free was dedicated to making pizza!

I searched around for a good dough recipe, but didn’t settle on one I liked.  I know it consists of flour, salt, water and yeast starter, so kinda winged this recipe (experience made me do this!).   The dough turned out to be crisp and light, but also dense like sourdough, very tasty!  I think I rolled it to thin though.  It held the toppings really well.

I’m curious to see how other pizza dough tastes so stay tuned.

YEAST STARTER
Not sure where this came from, was given to me by my cousin, will find a link soon
2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon honey 
2 tablespoons dried yeast
4 cups plain flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, honey and yeast. When the yeast is dissolved and bubbly, stir in 2 cups flour until smooth.

Add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until well-mixed each time. Cover the bowl securely with plastic wrap and let it sit. It will initially balloon up hugely, and then settle down.

Transfer the mixture it to a plastic ice cream bucket or ceramic bowl and put the lid on or cover it in plastic wrap. Let it sit and ferment for 4 days in a warm spot.

After 4 days, uncover the mixture and stir well. After this point in time you can use the starter to make sourdough bread. It will take a few loafs until your starter is at its best. You can either store it in the refrigerator, in which case you have to “feed” it once a week, or on your counter, in which case, you feed it every day.

To feed the starter, take out 1 cup (after stirring it well) and either discard it or use it in a recipe. Then add 1 cup each of warm water and flour. Mix well and cover again.


PIZZA DOUGH
1 cup (200g) yeast starter
1 cup warm water
3 ½ cups ‘00’ flour
2 teaspoons sea salt

Makes 4.

Bring the yeast starter to room temperature, then mix with the warm water.  Set aside for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, add the flour and salt, then slowly mix in the wet mix, either with a bread mixer or a wooden spoon.  When all combined, turn out onto a clean and lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.  The dough should be smooth and spring back when touched.  If too dry, add a bit more water.  If too wet, add a bit more flour.

Place the dough ball a lightly oiled ceramic bowl, and cover with plastic and a damp tea towel.  Place in a warm drought free area for 4 hours, or until double in size.  I like to place it in a warm oven (40°C).

When doubled, divide into 4 even balls, and knead each ball for 2 minutes, flouring the surface as required.  Place the balls on a plate, cover with plastic, and let them rise for a second time in a warm drought free area.


TOMATO SAUCE
2 roma or vine-ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeds removed
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
Extra virgin olive oil
Pinch salt
½ teaspoon dried oregano


OTHER TOPPINGS
Bocconcini
Basil
Olive oil
Parmesan
Prosciutto
Rocket


To remove the skins off the tomatoes easily, place the tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Leave for 10 minutes, then carefully remove and peel back skins.

Place the flesh of the tomatoes (no seeds) in a blender and puree for a minute.  Place the tomato into a bowl, add a splash of olive oil, salt, garlic and oregano, mix and set aside.


THE PIZZA

To make the pizza, place the pizza stone (or tray) in the oven at 250°C, and leave for 20-30 minutes.

On a well floured surface, roll out the pizza dough to about 8mm thick.  Place the dough onto a floured board or flat surface you can slide onto the stone.  Place 2-3 tablespoons of the tomato sauce on the pizza, then add slices of bocconcini and basil leaves evenly over the pizza.  Drizzle a little olive oil and grated parmesan.

Carefully slide the pizza onto the stone and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until crisp and golden.

When cooked, you add slices of fresh prosciutto and rocket, or eat plain Margarita-style.

Buon appetito!


3 comments:

  1. Great recipe! Can't wait to give it a try :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really enjoyed reading this recipe! Super simple to follow, will definitely will have to try this after starting a yeast starter, sadly wont find one from a family member like you! haha. But very detailed and simple, thank you for sharing! Yum, can't wait!

    ReplyDelete

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