Don’t be daunted by that diva de­meanour – Fri­day’s very own chef Sil­vena Rowe is happy to an­swer all your kitchen queries

Friday - - GOOD FOOD -

Q How can I en­sure my pizza base is crisp? I have tried sev­eral recipes but I never seem to get it right. Sec­ondly, please give me a recipe for a pizza base that uses whole­wheat flour.

A I un­der­stand your pain. Pizza dough is never easy to make, es­pe­cially at home as do­mes­tic ovens don’t get as hot as commercial ones.

When look­ing for a tried and tested pizza dough recipe on the in­ter­net, I would sug­gest you try to find one that is by a well-known Ital­ian chef who has learnt how to make piz­zas from his mother. I will share a recipe that is by a very good friend and a fel­low chef, Nancy Sil­ver­ton, who runs a restau­rant in Los Angeles called Pizze­ria Mozza. The recipe is as fol­lows: 650ml warm wa­ter 1 tbsp com­pressed yeast or 1 tsp ac­tive dry yeast 735g un­bleached bread flour, plus more as needed 1 tbsp dark rye flour or medium rye flour 1 1⁄2 tsp wheat germ 1 1⁄2 tsp bar­ley malt or mild-flavoured honey, such as clover or wild­flower 1 tbsp salt Olive oil, grape­seed oil, or an­other neu­tral flavoured oil, such as canola oil, for greas­ing the bowl

1To make the dough, put 445ml of wa­ter and the yeast in the bowl of a stand­ing mixer and let it sit for a few min­utes to al­low the yeast to dis­solve. Add half the flour, rye flour, and wheat germ. Stir with a wooden spoon to com­bine the in­gre­di­ents. Wrap the bowl tightly in plas­tic wrap and tightly wrap the perime­ter of the bowl with kitchen twine or an­other piece of plas­tic wrap to fur­ther seal it. Set the dough aside at room tem­per­a­ture (ideally 20⁰C to 21⁰C) for 1 1⁄2 hours.

2Un­cover the bowl and add the re­main­ing wa­ter, the re­main­ing bread flour, and bar­ley malt. Fit the mixer with a dough hook, place the bowl on the mixer stand, and mix the dough on low speed for 2 min­utes. Add salt and mix on medium speed for 6-8 min­utes, un­til the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Note that the dough will not pull so much that it com­pletely cleans the bowl, but if the dough is too sticky and is not pulling away from the sides at all, throw a small hand­ful of flour into the bowl to make it less sticky.

3While the dough is mix­ing, lightly grease with olive oil a bowl large enough to hold the dough when it dou­bles in size. Turn the dough out of the mixer into the oiled bowl. Wrap the bowl as be­fore. Set the dough aside at room tem­per­a­ture for 45 min­utes.

4Dust your work sur­face lightly with flour and turn the dough out on to the floured sur­face. Act­ing as if the round has four sides, fold the edges of the dough to­wards the cen­tre. Turn the dough over and re­turn it, folded side down, to the bowl. Cover the bowl again with plas­tic wrap and set it aside for 45 min­utes.

5Dust your work sur­face again lightly with flour and turn the dough out. Di­vide the dough into six equal seg­ments, each weigh­ing ap­prox­i­mately 200g. Gen­tly tuck the edges of each round of dough un­der it­self. Cover the dough rounds with a clean dish towel and let them rest for 5 min­utes.

6Lightly flour both hands and use them to gather each round of dough into a taut ball. Dust a bak­ing sheet gen­er­ously with flour and place the dough rounds on the bak­ing sheet. Cover the bak­ing sheet with a dish towel and leave them again at room tem­per­a­ture for 1 hour.

7Your dough is now ready. Just roll it out and top it with good-qual­ity in­gre­di­ents and bake as usual. And yes, you can use whole­wheat flour in­stead of plain flour. In fact, I make my pizza with gluten-free flour. It changes the tex­ture a bit but it tastes re­ally good.

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