A Wild Pizza


In the absence of a wood-fired pizza oven I suggest you cook one pizza at a time to allow each pizza to bake close to the bottom oven element and ideally on a pizza stone. Baking the pizza in the bottom of the oven, on a pizza stone, with the oven set to the highest temperature is the most successful way to achieve a crispy base In a conventional oven; an efficient oven can cook a pizza in 12 minutes.

If your oven doesn’t have an element in the bottom, you may need to experiment with the position and temperature at which to bake your pizza. You may find that it takes longer to achieve a complete bake, possibly up to 18 minutes. You may find it easier to bake the base on it’s own for 5 minutes before adding the tomato sauce and any toppings. After 5 minutes add the sauce and toppings and return to the oven to finish cooking.

250g Frisky Wild Yeast/Sourdough Culture (50% water: 50% flour)

200g Water (straight from the tap- cool)

15g Extra Virgin Olive Oil

80g Fine Semolina

350g Strong Bread Flour (e.g. Shipton Mill Organic No.4)

10g Maldon Sea Salt

Put the culture into a large bowl and stir in the water, olive oil, semolina, flour and salt. Mix until everything is incorporated and then knead for 1 minute (the dough will feel sticky). Leave the dough on the work surface and cover with an upturned bowl. Rest the dough for 30 minutes, then knead it for 1 minute.

Place the dough in a clean bowl and drape a piece of cling film with a little olive oil rubbed over it over the bowl (oiled side facing into the bowl). This will stop your dough sticking to the cling film as it rises. Place the bowl somewhere cool (8-14C) and leave it for 8-12 hours to bulk ferment. The dough should double in size and the gluten will develop.

After 8-12 hours the dough will be ready to shape. Rub a tiny amount of olive oil into your hands. Split the dough into three even pieces. Form each piece into a ball Then flatten each ball into a disc using the palm of your hand. You will roll-out the discs to their full pizza base size just before you bake them.

Cut three pieces of baking parchment (approx 40cm squares) and lightly oil the centre of each square sheet. Place one disc onto the centre of each square of baking parchment and drizzle a small amount of olive oil over each disc (to prevent sticking). Stack the pizza bases and cover the top one with lightly oiled cling film. Put the pizza bases in the fridge. The pizza bases need 30 minutes to rest but will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days until you are ready to use them.

Sugo di Pomodoro  (Tomato Sauce):

This recipe will produce enough sauce for your three pizzas, it also makes a great sauce for pasta. The cheese rinds are not essential but they produce a richer sauce with a satisfying umami finish.

I save my Parmigiano rinds  in a bag in the freezer and I’m rarely short of an idea to use them for…enriching long slow-cooked beef Ragu, adding to soups- particularly mushroom, squash and minestrone soups.

In the summertime and autumn  I use fresh tomatoes (3-5 very larges ones should suffice e.g. Couer de Bouef or Marmonde). If you are using fresh tomatoes chop them and include everything- flesh, skin, seeds and juices, then simmer until the tomatoes turn a rich red colour.

30ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1-4 Cloves of Garlic (thinly sliced)

Pinch of Salt

1 x 400g Tin of Chopped Plum Tomatoes (St Marzano are the best ones if you can find some)

2 Pieces of Parmigiano Rind (Optional)

A Good Grind of Black Pepper

A Few Fresh Basil Leaves (Optional)

Sweat the garlic in the salt and olive oil gently in a medium sized frying pan Over a medium/low heat. The garlic should be soft but not coloured, this will take a couple of minutes. Immediately add the tomatoes (and their juices), and the cheese rinds (if using) and bring to a low simmer. Cook uncovered until the tomatoes are no longer watery and have turned a deep red colour, at this point the oil should have begun to separate from the sauce- this will take approx 20-30 minutes.

Remove the rinds (if using), add plenty of black pepper and scatter over torn basil leaves (if using). The sauce is now ready to use, alternatively it freezes very well.

To Make 1 Pizza:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for rolling and drizzling)

2-3 tablespoons of Sugo di Pomodoro

200g Buffalo Mozzarella (drained and torn into small pieces)

Pre-heat the oven to 250C with a pizza stone or baking sheet placed on the lowest shelf. Drizzle a little oil onto the paper around each disc of pizza dough to prevent it from sticking once you have rolled-it-out further. Roll-out the dough to form a circular pizza base measuring approx 31-34cm in diameter. The easiest way to roll-out the dough is the start in the centre and roll outwards, rotating the pizza base slightly each time. If the dough becomes resistant or starts to pull-back, leave it to rest for 10 minutes then continue. Spread the surface of the dough with a very thin layer of olive oil.

Spread 2-3 tablespoons of Sugo di Pomodoro over the pizza base. Add any other toppings you fancy, then top with the mozzarella. Slide the pizza onto an up-turned baking tray. Open the oven door and slide the pizza onto the pizza stone or baking sheet. Bake for 12-19 minutes.

Posted on: 1st April