PIZZA DOUGH – Make me, rest me, roll me, flip me!

Comfort food can come in many forms. For me it’s a soft baked pasta with crispy edges, slow cooked sticky ribs are right up there too as is pizza. Pizza always seems to be a generally winner in my home! Everyone loves pizza but for some reason my children just love this treat cold the day after too. I tend to make extra for lunchboxes for the following day but this surplus would need to be tucked away as leftovers do not last long in my house especially when my eldest goes searching in all the secret hiding places I’ve made over the years. This pizza dough is a recipe taken from my first cookery book ‘Southern Italian Family Cooking’. It will never fail you! Forget about those overpriced pizzas with horrific toppings and ridiculous crust fillings.

Become a Neapolitan and make a wonderful pizza with a base to die for. Topping are entirely up to you. Either a white base which would be a layer of whipped ricotta with a dash of freshly grated nutmeg spread thinly then topped or a wonderful tomato passata with a little garlic and fresh basil, equally topped with what you fancy. Keep the toppings simple and remember less is more. Pre-heat the oven to 220C. In a standard the oven the pizza should take about 12 minutes to cook. Once rolled out, sprinkle a little semola or semolina onto your tray or pre-heated pizza stone, this will add a lovely texture to the dough while also allowing movement. Hide all knives and forks as when pizza is served to you, you simply need to tear and fold. Buon appetite!

Makes: 6 large pizzas

900g 00 flour
10g salt
14g dried yeast
550ml tepid water (see note below)
5 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano or marjoram

1. Use a mixer with a dough hook attachment if you have one, if not a large bowl will work just fine.
2. Tip the yeast sachets into warm water and stir. This will activate the yeast.
3. Into a large bowl add the flour and sprinkle the salt onto one side. Make a well in the centre and add the oil. Sprinkle in the oregano or marjoram.
4. Slowly add the water into the centre of the well, a little at a time. Use a wooden spoon initially or use your hands to mix in the water, it may be a little messy but you are able to feel the consistency as you go.
5. Tip the dough out on to a floured surface and knead for approximately 7-10 minutes. The dough should be soft, smooth and spring back when pushed with the tips of your fingers.
6. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl with a little flour on top. Lay a damp tea towel over the bowl and position in a draft free area of the kitchen and leave to prove. 
7. The dough will need to prove for at least 2 hours however the longer the dough has to prove the better, it will develop a wonderful flavour.
8. Separate the dough into 6 or 7 balls of 180g dough. Cover and allow to prove for a further 30 minutes. Then make to suit what you fancy.
9. The dough can be frozen in portions after it’s first prove too for a speedy mid-week treat.

Carmela’s tip: I use the milky water from the fresh mozzarella bags to add in replace of the tap water to the dough. It’s full of flavour and no waste at all, my mother has been doing this for years and also uses the milk from excess ricotta. If the water or mozzarella milk is warm the proving will be accelerated, however I recommend tepid water and a slightly longer prove, to allow the flavour to develop in the dough.