About twenty miles from my parents’ house in Italy, down from the mountains in a valley where the land rolls gently under golden fields of dinner plate-sized sunflowers, there is a wonderful pizzeria. Serving simple, understated but utterly delicious pizzas, until the age of about fifteen I didn’t even know its name: the doorway lacking in any obvious signage, we simply called the restaurant after the little village in which it was located, a trip to the village and the pizzeria being pretty much one and the same.
Here the pizzas come in a limited number of options, the toppings scant additions to the main event of thin, crisp crust (which every so often erupts in a volcanic bubble of air), rich tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Wine comes by the carafe, salad is green or mixed and dessert is a pre-packaged affair that emerges straight from the freezer. These basic accompaniments have never been cause for concern: the pizzas are what this place is all about.
While pizzerias all over London and beyond are turning their hand to authentic Italian crusts (Franco Manca I’m looking at you, Pizza Express, Pizza Hut, I am not), it’s pretty hard to beat the taste of proper wood-fire ovened pizza, made and served to you by Italians, in Italy, with the sun shining down as you eat. But unless you own one of said wood fired ovens – or decide not to make pizza at home and only eat it in restaurants that do – there has to be some sort of compromise.
I’m absolutely not an expert on the subject, but I’ve been baking (and eating) pizzas for well over twenty years. As a littler loaf, I used to love making homemade pizza with my Mum and as an adult, the occasional ‘Pizza Sunday’ with Carnivorous Fiancé (eating off our laps on the sofa in front of some sort of trashy telly) is up there with one of my favourite meals.
My tips, for what they’re worth? Make a really good dough (my recipe below – a sourdough version is also good, but for simplicity a mixture of strong white and Tipo ’00’ flour is spot on), roll it properly thin, top with scant ingredients (this stops it going soggy) and bake in a hot, hot oven. My pizza stones are the best investment I ever made for a closest-you-can-get to-authentic-without-a-wood-fired-oven crust, and make sure you eat your pizza as soon as its done (just one of the many reasons that takeaway pizzas just don’t make the cut).
The pizza pictured is topped with a basic tomato sauce (tinned tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and salt), mozzarella, capers, olives and a little basil. I love the salty simplicity of this topping but adapt this endlessly to what you love. Carnivorous Fiancé likes his with shredded chicken, chorizo and chilli (not entirely Italian but it makes him happy and looks pretty tasty too), prosciutto and a little shaved parmesan work well and a few wilted greens with an egg cracked on top are also a very good thing.
The recipe below makes enough for about six pizzas. I wouldn’t recommend trying to make pizza for more than six people at a time unless you’re happy to spend your evening manning the oven, and if you’re feeding fewer than that, the dough freezes absolutely beautifully. I’m never without a frozen batch of pizza dough on hand, enough to tide me over until our next trip to Italy at least.
Homemade Pizza Dough
(makes around 6 medium-sized pizzas)
250g strong white bread flour
250g ’00’ pizza flour
6g powdered dried yeast
1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
Wholemeal or semolina flour, to dust
In a large bowl, combine the flours. Add the dried yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other.
Pour in the water and mix to form a sticky dough. Add the oil, mix again using your hands then tip the dough onto a clean work surface and knead until smooth and silky, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for 1 – 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Place a pizza stone, terracotta tile or baking tray in the oven and preheat to its highest temperature. I put mine on about 45 minutes before I want to bake my pizzas.
Dust the work surface with your wholemeal or semolina flour. Take a ball of dough, about 150g, and flatten slightly with the heel of your hand. Stretch it out into a rough circle (the less you roll the dough, the better) then place on the work surface and roll with a rolling pin until about 5mm thick and an even (ish) round.
Place the rolled pizza base on an individual square of baking parchment, from which you can easily slide it onto a tray, then onto the pizza stone. If you have a pizza peel, this will make life a lot easier.
Top the pizza with your choice of ingredients, in this instance a smear of tomato sauce, some torn mozzarella and a sprinkling of capers and olives. Transfer carefully to your hot pizza stone and bake for around 9 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust crisp.
Remove your pizza from the oven, drizzle with olive oil, scatter with torn basil leaves and serve.
42 RESPONSES TO My Favourite Homemade Pizza
These look great. You mention about freezing the dough. At what point do you do this? After proving or before?
Leave the dough to double in size then divide it into individual portions, wrap well and freeze. You could also roll out the bases then freeze with layers of parchment paper which means instant frozen pizza bases on hand!
Recently we made our own pizza base and thought that it’s really good even though the flour wasn’t exactly right. Next time, we are going to try 00 flour and your recipe out!
Looks wonderful, Loaf. I can’t resist a good homemade pizza :D. I usually have portions of frozen dough in my freezer, but not at the moment. I may get making. Once that bit’s done, they make for such quick dinners.
That pizza place sounds great. I am in total agreement with you on the pizza/bread stone and really hot oven heated for a long time. You can get pretty close to ‘the real thing’ this way. Love your simple topping.
Lovely crispy crust!
Friday night is pizza night in our home. We all look forward to it. I agree with you that less is more when it comes to toppings!
Oh, now I’m craving proper pizza! These look incredible x
I’m so happy to see this post. I am going to Italy this summer, and I have a feeling that when I get back I will want to be able to replicate the pizza I have there!
So far, I haven´t had any luck with finding type 00 flour. I always make it with 000, but I also need to find the one pizza recipe I can rely on. I keep changing. I will certainly give this one a try Kate! I really like those pics btw.
Good pizza is all about the crust, as pizza really is just “stuff on bread.” I have to admit being a real pizza snob (it’s no fun to go out for pizza with me) and yours looks wonderful, with good char. And I like minimal toppings to let the crust shine. A simple sauce, spots of cheese, and sonething salty–basically what you have pictured above!
Looks incredible! But I’ve never heard of Type 00 flour, where do you buy it? Is it easy to find, or would you buy it from specialist food stores? It just sounds a little too specialist for Sainsburys.
(And you’ve also reminded me of the wonderful Franco Manca… just one of the many food-related reasons I miss London!)
I buy mine in Waitrose or you can get it online-hope that helps!
I was hoping you’d say Waitrose. Thank you!
There is nothing like homemade pizza and a glass of red wine on a Friday night. We add a bit of semolina in ours and on a recent trip to New York, I discovered the wonders of a sesame base. Amazing extra touch which transformed the taste. never heard of Tipo flour. where do you buy it?
’00’ flour is very fine wheat flour, I use it half and half with semolina flour in pasta too. I used to buy it online but you can find a pretty good version in Waitrose’s new own brand flour range x
Aaaah I see. Tipo is the brand of flour! Doh! I know “00” flour but was thinking what is Tipo flour! Now I geddit!
No, sorry, I’m being confusing! ‘Tipo’ just means ‘type’ in Italian – I’ve just always called it ‘Tipo 00′ from going to Italy so often. Just me being pretentious, ha! (I’ve amended so it just says ’00’ now)
One of the very first things I made in ‘Domestic Science’ at school was pizza- admittedly, it was the early 90s, Domino Pizza was considered exotic and the pizza was basically grated cheese, tomato ketchup on top of a split bread roll. At university, the pre-baked pizza bases were Friday night favourites. Its only just the last few years I’ve been enjoyed making the entire pizza and dough from scratch- and incredibly satisfying it is too! Lovely recipe. And what stylish pictures- I’m feeling very hungry all of a sudden!
Your pizza looks so good…in fact I have a little bit of a pizza craving now!! Perhaps I’ll try out your recipe this week 🙂
Home made pizza is absolutely the best, short of traveling to Italy for a slice. This looks perfect. Crispy, not too many toppings, yum!
Homemade pizza is pretty much my favourite meal ever – I would eat it every night if I could and I love the simplicity of your toppings.
I am as in love with home made pizza as you are and make it so often as do my kids and I also teach pizza dough making in class which always goes down brilliantly. Less is more regarding toppings and I love yours!
I am ALWAYS in the mood for pizza, especially now the sun is shining. Looks scrummy and easy enough for me, I hardly ever use my pizza stone, so here goes!
Love your blog! Our Sunday night are homemade pizza night in front of the telly. But I agree, the best pizzas we had were the wood fired ones in Italy – can’t beat that! Yours looks pretty close, though!
Ah, thank you! Sunday night pizza is the best 🙂
Great post, we make pizzas sometimes on Saturday evenings to have with the children, last week we used some of the wild garlic that is around at the moment, it was a delicious bit of green to make a ‘tricolore’ with the tomato and mozzarella.
So now I both want pizza and I want to go to Italy. Sigh. At least I can make pizza this weekend ;D
You and me both! We’re off to Italy in July…cannot wait!
I’m such a fan of pizza–the family demands Friday Night Pizza Nights that I have lots of practice. My stone even lives in the oven, only coming out when whatever needs to go in needs the extra inch of space.
I love simply topped pizzas, but my real love is flavored dough. I usually have at least one in the freezer, too, though now I am starting to label them so I know if it’s arugula pesto dough or roasted sweet potato dough or butternut-egg nog dough. You’d want to keep those straight, right?
Thanks for lovely pizza photos–very well done!
Flavoured dough is such a good idea. I’ve put herbs in mine before but butternut eggnog is new to me!
Having pizza in Italy is one of my favorite food memories. Reading this makes me want to rush home and make my own, too!
Love ur blog. It’s really cool. Visit mine.
Hope u gonna like it 🙂
YES!!! This pizza looks legit!
I’m looking for a pizza stone, could you please say what kind you use and where you got it?
Hi Dan, I got mine from Bakery Bits (which is a fab baking website btw) http://bakerybits.co.uk/Round-Refractory-Clay-Baking-Stone-13quot-or-33cm-P1266141.aspx. The key thing to look for is something thick and heavy that will retain the heat. Happy baking!
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Is see you say not to roll pizza and to shape it with you hands, I have always struggled to get decent looking base that way so roll it out, what do I miss by rolling it out?