The best pizza dough and sauce
Makes enough for 4 to 5 pizzas.
- 600g strong bread flour or Tipo 00
- 200g semolina
- Tablespoon (15mls) of salt
- Tablespoon (15mls) of golden sugar
- 12g yeast
- 550-600ml lukewarm water
- 1 x 400g good quality tin of fine chopped tomatoes (Mutti)
- 1 x grated solo garlic or 4-5 cloves
- Lots of fresh basil (fry the stalks with the garlic, then add the tomatoes and leaves)
- A little olive oil
Prepare the dough in advance
In an ceramic bowl, mix all of the flours and the sugar together. Next, add the salt to one side of the bowl, and the yeast to the other. Don't add all the water at once, but add about 80% of it and begin bringing the mixture together. Keep mixing until the dough comes together into a ball. Use just as much water as needed to bring it together and so it gathers the flour off the sides of the bowl. Take the dough out onto floured a work surface and work it for 10 mins until it is stretchy and strong. Wash the bowl with very hot water, so that the ceramic holds some of the heat. Lightly oil the bowl and pop the ball of dough in there. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and leave it in a warm area. The heat from the bowl will also help the dough rise.
In a pan, gently fry the grated garlic and the stalks of the basil together in a little olive oil. Add in a tin of good quality finely chopped tomatoes and bring up to a simmer. Add in the basil leaves, keeping some if you want to use it as a topping in the classic margherita. Season with a little salt & pepper and take it off the heat to cool down a little.
Making the bases
In about an hour the dough should have doubled in side, leave it longer if you can, two to three hours is ideal but it will depend on the warmth of where it is left, the yeast you’re using and the flour itself. The longer you can leave it the fluffier your pizza bases will be. Take the dough out onto a floured surface. It will lose some of its size but don't 'knock it back'. Gently roll it into a sausage shape and cut it into four. Each of these will become your pizza bases. Roll each of them into a dough ball and leave three to prove a little more while you make the first base from the fourth. You can use the covered bowl again if they've enough flour on the outside not to stick back together too much.
If you have a pizza peel, lightly flour it with a mix of semolina and flour at this stage. You'll be placing the pizza base on it shortly. If you don't have a peel, you can improvise one from strong thin cardboard or use a baking tray. This is also a good time to heat up your oven to the maximum it goes too. If you have a baking or pizza stone, place that in your oven to heat up.
With your hands only, begin to flatten out the dough ball trying to keep it as circular as possible. Leave a little extra at the outer edges to form the crust. Once it's as flat as you can get it on the work surface, pick up the dough and rest it on the back of your fists. Use the thumbs of your hands to hook the dough a little, to ensure it doesn't fall off. Next, partly open up your hands and start rotating the dough, using your fingers and thumbs to ensure it doesn't fall off and using the weight of the dough to stretch itself out into a circular pizza base. When you're happy with it, place it on the pizza peel.
Build & Bake
Prepare the toppings you want to use, my advice is that less is more when it comes to pizza toppings. Add your sauce and toppings to the base and you're ready to bake it!
If you have a pizza stone, slide your pizza onto it and watch it cook. Once the cheese and dough begins to colour, your pizza is done. If you don't have a pizza stone, place the pizza and the baking tray into the oven to cook it.