In our house, Friday is “Pizza Day”. Given that Pizza is a universal dish that almost everyone likes, including our kids, it was an obvious one to make at home. While my initial attempts were tasty, they were still far away from the thin, crispy Pizza you get in Italy or in good Pizzerias. But with time and practice, it got better and better – it has even been praised by some of our italian friends by now!
We eat Pizza almost every Friday, and over the past two years we got into the habit of inviting some friends of Lea and Lukas for play dates after kindergarten, and make the Pizza together with them. It’s a great one to involve the kids – they can get their hands dirty and garnish the Pizza with their own favourites. And most of the time, we invite their parents over for joint Pizza dinner. Result: happy kids, happy parents and many empty plates.
It doesn’t take a lot to make a good Pizza, but one thing is indispensable if you want to get it really crispy: a Pizza stone. You can get them at many places these days in many shapes and forms. I prefer the rectangular one to the round one as it allows me to make the Pizzas as large as possible – and in my opinion they don’t need to be perfectly round anyway. The other key to success is to really pre-heat the oven long enough at very high temperature. The Pizza stone needs to be inside from the moment you switch the oven on to ensure it get’s as hot as possible. I bake the Pizza at 250°C.
Today, I am sharing the recipe for Pizza dough (a variation of Jamie Oliver’s recipe) as well as my own favourite – Pizza with grilled eggplants and ricotta cheese. Obviously there are countless variations of Pizza toppings to choose from. I will continue to share some others over the next couple of weeks. And for the kids, you can pretty much use everything they like. My kids prefer the simple Margherita (tomato/cheese) version – Lea adds ham or salami and Lukas likes it with sweetcorn or red pepper. Regarding the pizza sauce, to be frank, I use most of the time canned versions – and I am quite happy with the result. But I must admit that a home-made sauce is always better – a recipe will follow in one of my coming Pizza episodes.
The ultimate speed tip: freeze the rolled-out pizza dough
You might think it takes too much time to prepare the pizza dough, let it sit, roll it out etc. Yes, that is right – but not every single time you want to make a Pizza! It’s such a simple trick, but in my opinion the best time-saving idea ever:
- Simply prepare one large amount of Pizza dough at a moment you have the time to do it (below recipe makes 8 large Pizzas, you can easily prepare the double amount).
- Divide it into single portions and roll out the dough into thin Pizza “bases” (keep the width of your freezer in mind – they should fit in flat, without folding or rolling them).
- Place each of the bases on a sheet of baking paper, sprinkle some flour on top.
- Stack the Pizza bases, put them on a tray, the tray into a large plastic bag and the whole thing into the freezer.
This way you can simply take the amount of Pizza bases out of the freezer when you need them – they unfreeze super quickly and off you go. In case you cannot easily get the dough with the topping off the baking paper before putting it into the oven, put it inside with the baking paper and take it away after ca. 2 minutes, when the base starts to get crispy.
Recipe for Pizza Dough
makes 8 large, thin Pizzas
- 650ml lukewarm water
- 800g regular wheat flour (type 405)
- 200g durum wheat semolina
- 14g dry yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1tbsp salt
- 1 shot of olive oil
- Mix the lukewarm water with the yeast and the sugar
- Mix regular flour, durum semolina and salt in a bowl and “dig” a hole in the middle
- Pour yeast mix into the hole and mix a little bit of flour into it using a fork
- Add a shot of olive oil
- Knead the dough thoroughly (I use my kitchen aid machine, but you can as well use a hand mixer or your hands) until you have a smooth and elastic “dough ball”. Add flour if the dough is too wet or sticky.
- Place the dough into a bowl, cover with a clean cloth and let it sit until it doubles in size (I let it sit at least 45 min).
- Take dough out of the bowl and divide it into 8 equally sized portions.
- Sprinkle some durum semolina on the working surface and roll each portion out to a very thin Pizza base – as thin as possible, at least 30cm diameter
Recipe for Pizza with grilled eggplant and ricotta cheese
for 1 Pizza
- 1 Pizza base (recipe see above)
- 1 eggplant
- olive oil
- 4 tbsp tomato sauce for pizza (from can or freshly made)
- ricotta cheese
- a handful of grated mozzarella cheese
- freshly ground pepper
- fresh basil
- Preheat the oven (with the Pizza stone) to 250°C.
- Cut eggplant into thin slices. Sprinkle salt over them and wait for a few minutes. Take escaping water drops and salt residues off with a paper towel (this ensures that the eggplant does not absorb too much olive oil when fried).
- Heat olive oil and fry eggplant slices on both sides until golden brown. Place on a plate with paper towel to drain the oil.
- Spread pizza sauce on the pizza in a thin layer.
- Place eggplant slices on the pizza, season with pepper and salt.
- Place small ricotta heaps in-between the eggplant slices.
- Sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese over the Pizza – not too much, though.
- Bake the Pizza for 8-10 minutes until its crispy and the cheese golden.
- Garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately.