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