We've been making pizza in our family since... well, forever!
For as long as I can remember I've been grating cheese, chopping vegetables, rolling the dough, spreading the sauce and eating slice after slice.
I used to grate extra cheese because my sister and I would eat so much of it (secretly... or so we thought).
My dad had a special way of clapping his hands to remove the flour and I remember finding it so amusing and practicing for ages to get it right.
He would sing the tune of 21st Century Fox (We only realised that that was what it was many years later) as we pulled the pizza out of the oven.
Our family pizza is kind of famous. Friends- kids and adults alike- all over the world have tasted this pizza at various dinners, birthday parties and playdates and it became a favourite.
Our pizza is definitely the best... ;) I know that's totally subjective because each and every pizza chef takes pride in their creation.
My sister and her friend even decided that they would have a 'Dad Pizza Cook-off' to see which dad could make the best pizza.
But the most amazing thing, which I realised yesterday after my dad said he was making pizza that night, was that I still feel that same overwhelming excitement about it as I must have done when I was a toddler.
I was bursting to chop, I had an urge to knead the dough, I wanted to lick the bowl of sauce clean just like my sister and I did when I was 11, I wanted to sprinkle the toppings, watch the pizza bubble in the oven, and sink my teeth into a fresh, gooey, crisp, warm slice.
I was so eager to go out to the supermarket and get ingredients and I couldn't stop thinking about it until the tray was put on the dining table.
I've even made my own pizza, you'd think I'd have gotten over it, but the whole adventure still makes my day.
Jamie Oliver's recipe has pretty much always been our go-to for pizza.
This time I asked my dad what he had done for the dough because he has toggled with the recipe several times and kind of customised it to get it just right. It's super simple-- I managed to remember it!
20 oz flour all together:
16 oz all purpose flour
4 oz really good semolina flour (the quality of the semolina makes a huge difference in the dough)
A pinch of salt
About 7g dry yeast or 1 1/2 cm cube fresh yeast mixed in a mug of warm water with a small spoonful of sugar and left to stand for about 15 minutes
Preheat the oven to 270 C (If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven)
Mix in your flours, salt and yeast and gradually add water as you knead it until you get an elastic, smooth ball of dough. Knead (gently tossing, pulling and pressing- not pushing or squashing anymore) for 10 minutes.
Place it in a bowl, poke some holes in with a knife and cover tightly with clingfilm.
Let it rise (about 20-30 minutes).
Remove the dough and knead it a little to knock the air out. Punch some holes with a knife, place it in the bowl, replace the clingfilm and let it rise again.
Flour your work surface and gently stretch out your dough a little. Roll it out with a rolling pin.
Place it on your pizza stone or baking tray. Put your toppings, a sprinkle of salt and bake for about 10-12 minutes (maybe 15 minutes if you're not using a pizza stone), or until the dough it cooked (there's a little browning around the edges), the colour has changed and the cheese is bubbly.
Slice and enjoy...
(You can adjust your quantities of purée and fresh tomatoes)
Roughly chopped tomatoes
Finely chopped garlic (1-2 cloves)
Finely chopped red onion (1 small or 1/2 large)
Fresh black pepper
Pulse some tomatoes, black pepper, sugar and salt in a food processor.
Cook the onions and garlic on a very low heat with some olive oil. Let them 'sweat'- not stay raw but not burn. Add your tomato mixture, a bit of tomato purée, a few drops of water and simmer it down on a low heat for about 10 minutes. Make it with your dough so that it sits for a long time and everything infuses.
A chunk of fresh mozzarella in the middle
Feta cheese (tastes wonderful but melts less)
An everything pizza: A layer of basil pesto, a layer of mustard, a layer of pizza sauce, feta, mozzarella, capers and some veggies if you want.
Pineapple (I've never tried it, but it's supposed to be good...)
Any other cheese