RECIPE: When you ask the husband what he’d like for dinner, there’s really not a lot of options put forward, but this time I was happy to go ahead with one of his favourites. I’ve tried a few pizza recipes in the past, including using my bread maker. The traditional recipes have been flat and tough. The bread maker version created a hefty dough that rose thick and high but tasted more like bread than pizza. Having this history, I was a bit nervous setting out, but wanted to try this recipe from one of the best-regarded Italian cookbooks around. I didn’t alter the recipe and followed all the instructions, but only allowed the dough to rise for two hours instead of three (we were hungry!).

COMPONENTS: I sat the dried yeast mixed with warm water for ten minutes then gradually added the other ingredients as instructed. Where this recipe differs from the others I’ve tried is the traditional preparation of the dough. Once combined I spent ten minutes whacking the dough against the bench, folding a third back on itself, turning it 90 degrees and then whacking it again. You kind of throw it against the bench so it stretches out as you hit it down. It’s quite therapeutic! The dough is then left to rise in a warm place for up to three hours or until it has doubled in size. I’ve taken to rising dough on the stove-top of my free-standing oven, with the oven on, because it seems to have the best results. I’m not sure what I’m going to do once we renovate and I install a wall oven…

ASSEMBLY: Once the dough had risen, I split it into two and shaped out a round with my fingers. This ended up being a bit uneven, so I rolled it to improve the finish. I was worried that there was too much dough around the edges, but once baked, it was fine.

IMPRESSION: I’m not going to comment on the toppings, because it’s pizza and just about anything works for me! In case you’re interested, this one had barbeque sauce, chicken, caramelised onion, swiss brown mushrooms, cheese and baby spinach. The pizza crust was great – not too bready or dense, not crumbly or dry; just right. I’ve tried to make a few pizza doughs, and this recipe is by far the best. I’m going to persist with this one and work on improving my technique in shaping the pizza base.

Recipe from The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

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