MARGHERITA AND BASIL PIZZA
WHAT is chewy, crispy, cheesy, sour, savoury, causes an explosion of flavours in your mouth and comes packed in a cardboard box? If you don’t know the answer to this riddle, think again. It’s also something that you’ve probably had delivered to you on a weekly basis for as long as you can remember, usually arriving in 30 minutes or less. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the answer is “pizza”.
Pizza has been a global staple for the last few years and for obvious reasons. It’s one of those rare foods which can be served everywhere — local pizzerias, high-end restaurants, fast-food restaurants — and tastes amazing. It’s a perfect food choice for both children and adults, and suitable for most occasions.
Working late at the office? Order a pizza! Birthday party? Order a pizza! Home alone and hungry? You guessed it — order a pizza!
Despite the satisfaction we derive from this epitome of a perfect snack, most of us are clueless about how to make pizza. It’s totally unnecessary for some of us to figure out the perfect combination of crispy crust drenched in savoury sauce, concealed under a mountain of melty gooey cheese. After all, what are pizza delivery numbers for, if not to dial up a delivery to be sent straight to our homes?
But there are a good number of reasons why you should make it yourself. For one thing, it’s extremely fun to do and quite an easy process at that. It’s also far cheaper than ordering it from a restaurant. After all, let’s face it, the meltdown of the ringgit has struck our wallets and budgets big time, so cost-saving and DIY cooking projects are always great ideas.
THE PERFECT RECIPE
So what should you do if you want to make the perfect pizza at home?
The first thing you should consider is finding the perfect recipe. This might seem a little difficult but it’s actually the easiest part of the process. All you need to do is choose from dozens of recipes online. Always remember to pick a recipe that has garnered a lot of good reviews to ensure your first attempt is a success.
More importantly, choose one you’re comfortable with. Don’t pick something that requires an obscure type of flour or a complicated kneading process. Pizza making should be easy, not a chore.
Besides picking the right recipe, there are other things to consider. For one, you need to learn which cheese to use. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing cheese. If you like to use brie or even parmesan, go right on ahead. What’s important is that you don’t choose a cheese that has been overly processed. This means avoiding those that are preshredded or come in powder form or sliced. Processed cheese contains a lot more than just cheese, it has chemicals and all sort of other things to prevent it from clumping so it will not melt very well or have the best flavour.
Another important ingredient you need to be careful about is the pizza sauce. It’s tempting to get a jar of pasta sauce because it’s convenient. But typically, jarred sauces tend to be too sweet or salty. When it comes to homemade pizza, homemade sauces are the best. They don’t need to be complicated. You just need to blend canned tomatoes with a little bit of aromatics like garlic and onions, throw in a little salt along with herbs and it’s pretty much ready to be used.
One of the most important factors to creating a delicious pizza is the crust. A pizza crust needs to be crispy and chewy at the same time. For this to happen, you need an oven that’s hot and I mean, really hot! Chefs will tell you that you need to crank your oven to its highest possible temperature and let it pre-heat for at least 30 minutes to get your pizza as crispy as possible.
Another great trick to getting a crispy crust is to learn how to use olive oil. For example, spread a thin layer of it on the bottom of your baking pan so that when the oil heats up, it will lightly “fry” the bottom of your pizza. You can also drizzle some on the crust to give you the same effect. Just be modest with your oil — you don’t want your pizza to taste greasy.
Toppings are also something you should use sparingly. The more you put on top, the less crispy your pizza will become. Use a handful of meat, cheese and vegetables. If you want more, you can always add on the side.
In the end, pizza will always be delicious. Even if you don’t get it right the first time, chances are you will enjoy the process. And if you’re still uncertain about which recipe to choose, try mine. It’s a simple and basic recipe for a thick crust pizza that I’ve been using for years. The best part is that you don’t need to knead the dough.
Get ready to channel your inner Italian and serve up a pizza!
(Makes two pizzas)
22g instant dry yeast 3 tbsp sugar
50g olive oil
1 tsp table salt
550g all-purpose flour
1 can peeled tomatoes 4 garlic cloves
½ tsp dried basil
1 tsp table salt
1 tsp black pepper
200g mozarella cheese, shredded 2 tomatoes, sliced
1 bunch fresh basil
Olive oil for drizzling.
1. Mix water and sugar together and pour in yeast. Let it sit until yeast starts to bubble.
2. Mix in the rest of the ingredients,
and form a dough.
3. Let the dough rise in a covered bowl, for at least two hours at room temperature. Or until the dough doubles in size.
4. Blend all the ingredients for the
sauce, and set aside.
5. Pre-heat oven to highest possible
temperature for 30 minutes. 6. Once the dough is ready fold it unto
itself twice and form into two discs. 7. Spread olive oil on two baking pans
and place the pizza dough on top. 8. Spread sauce on the pizza dough, cheese and tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil.
9. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or
until the crust starts to darken.
10. Once out of the oven top with fresh
basil and serve.
Margherita and Basil Pizza.
Pizza Ingredients: Unbaked dough in the middle, olive oil, basil, tomatoes, garlic and onions.