Despite its humble origins, pizza is surely the food of Gods. However, without some prohibitively expensive kit – namely a wood-fired oven - can a classic quattro stagioni, Fiorentina or capricciosa be replicated at home? Francesco Mazzei, the man with all the skills at London’s award winning L’Anima and a guest chef at Pizza Express recently, certainly thinks so. As a result, we grabbed a word and got him to break down how all you aspiring pizzaiolos go about creating the perfect pizza in the comfort of your own home. According to Mazzei, when it comes to making pizzas, less is always more. So he recommends making a simple margherita pizza.
Buffalo mozzarella, tin of plum tomato, extra virgin olive oil, clove of garlic, dry oregano, fresh basil, salt and pepper, 1/2 kg double zero flour, dry yeast, clear honey, butter. (Makes pizza for two)
- Combine the plum tomatoes, olive oil, crushed garlic, a teaspoon of dry oregano, a few leaves of fresh basil and the salt and pepper and leave to marinade overnight.
- Mix the flour, yeast and a little salt into 275ml of warm water. You can add a little more if you think it needs it. Then add a teaspoon of honey – don’t add flavoured honey, it must be clear. The honey adds colour to the base and also makes it crunchier. Mix together and leave for three to four hours, with occasional light kneads every hour or so. Kneading dough is a personal thing. Find a method that works for you. Some roll it away from them, then roll it back together. Others prefer to go from side to side.
- Separate the dough into two to four small balls and put down again for around an hour. The dough rises quicker in a warm room.
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius (gas mark 9) – the oven has to be very hot. This is key.
- Spread butter on an oven tray, then evenly spread the dough on the tray. The butter will ensure that the dough stays and doesn’t shrink. The butter helps give a nice and crusty texture to the base. Remember to spread the dough thinly.
- Pass the tomato sauce through a sieve and use what remains. Now add to the base – not too much. Break the buffalo mozzarella over the tomato base, add some parmigiano, drizzle some olive oil over and cook for 15 minutes maximum. Check after 10 minutes to make sure you’re not burning the pizza. Some ovens will cook quicker.
- Enjoy with a nice glass of Nebbiolo.
- If you fancy adding extra toppings, mix a tin of tuna and some red onion and place on top of the above pizza. In which case, serve with a glass of Vermentino.
Francesco Mazzei is an ambassador for the Fight Hunger/Eat Out campaign that runs in restaurants in the UK until the end of October. See www.actionagainsthunger.org.uk/restaurants-against-hunger/ for details.
Main image: Rex