Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pizza Margherita - Colors of the Italian flag

Invented in Naples, Italy, pizza has since become very popular in many parts of the world 
Invented in Naples, Italy, pizza has since become very popular in many parts of the world. There are many varieties of pizza and a diverse range of ingredients and toppings to choose from. Pizza Margherita has a thin, crisp crust and is topped with fresh mozzarella, plum tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil and basil which shows off the colors of the Italian flag. It's a wonderful summer treat to be shared with your loved ones!

Invented in Naples, Italy, pizza has since become very popular in many parts of the world

The key to a really good pizza is, of course, the crust. Even though pizza dough might seem complicated, this recipe shows you how simple is to prepare and bake it. The pizza sauce is made using fresh tomatoes and basil and all you need to do is to blend them. Easy, delicious and homemade. 

Invented in Naples, Italy, pizza has since become very popular in many parts of the world

Yield: 3 medium pizzas                       Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients for the pizza dough:
  • 470-625 g (3-4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 75 g (1/2 cup) semolina flour
  • 375 ml (1 1/2 cup) warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 fresh cake yeast (9 g)
Ingredients for pizza toppings:
  • 6 plum tomatoes, diced and drained
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
  • 375 g mozzarella cheese, sliced 
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  1. For the dough preparation, combine the water and yeast in a mixing bowl, and stir to dissolve the yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes or until it gets bubbly.
  2. Add the flour, olive oil and salt and blend until a smooth, quite soft, slightly sticky dough is formed.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface along with any loose flour still in the bowl. 
  4. Knead until all the flour is incorporated, and the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  
  5. If you have a stand mixer: attach the dough hook, add the water and the salt and stir to dissolve.
  6. After the foam is formed, start mixing at a low speed then add the salt, olive oil and gradually incorporate the flour, one cup at a time. Let the mixer knit for about 10 minutes.
  7. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let it stand in a warm place until doubled in size.
  8. After 45 minutes, knead the dough again with your hands for 2-3 minutes. Divide the dough in 3 equal balls, Rolling the ball of dough between your hands until rounded perfectly. 
  9. Cover the balls with a kitchen towel and let them stand for 45 minutes. 
  10. Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F). 
  11. For the sauce preparation, gently squeeze the tomatoes over a bowl to remove the excess juices and seeds. 
  12. Combine the tomatoes, salt, pepper and half of the basil in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until the tomatoes break down into a sauce, scraping down the sides as needed. If desired, strain to make a thicker sauce.
  13. Grease a 30 cm (12-inch) pizza pan with olive oil.
  14. On a well floured working surface, roll out 1 dough ball as thin as possible to about 30 cm (12-inch) round. Check frequently to make sure the dough is not sticking to the work surface and use more flour as needed.
  15. Spread over pan, rolling in edges to form a rim.
  16. Spread a light layer of the sauce over one of the rounds of pizza. Top with slices of mozzarella and basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil.
  17. Bake for 8-10 minute, until the cheese melts and the edges of the pies are crisp and lightly browned.
  18. Repeat the steps 14-17 with the remaining pizza dough.
  19. Let the pizza cool briefly before slicing and serving. 
Buon appetito!

Tips and Tricks:
  • If you are on a tight schedule, prepare your pizza dough ahead. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes at room temperature. Refrigerate the dough for 4 hours (or for up to 24 hours). It will rise slowly as it chills and also develops flavor. About 2 to 3 hours before you want to serve pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator. 

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