“Pizza al piatto”: a recipe for friends living in Dublin

So, in this blog I use to talk about different stuff, here is a recipe to make a proper pizza at home.

This recipe is the result of many trials and errors experimenting with different recipes and technics.

This is a brain dump of my current experience and knowledge. I don’t claim to be an expert but a simple amateur who enjoys baking. All the professionals who happen to land on this note will bear with me for the simplicity in explaining procedures and technical stuff.

(This article is also the result of my increase in weight in combination with starting eating canteen food in Facebook, but this is a different story 😛 )

What’s below is an elaboration of different information found on the internet, with some variations of mine. Websites that inspired me are:

also thanks to Marco Tizzoni and Mark Britten for some interesting tips to work high idrated doughs.

Stuff and ingredients that you need to get the same results that I did

A baking stone, aka pizza stone, you can find one for 15-30 EUROs (depending the quality), I bought one for 15 euros in Arnott’s in Dublin. Pizza stone is the key element because it gives you the crispness you are looking for.

A pizza peel, you can go for metallic one or wooden one, I have got a wooden one.

A pastry board

A steel dough cutter for working the dough, you might also want to get a plastic one, they are always handy. You cand find both of them in Stock, in King St. opposite the St. Stephen Green shopping centre.

A good oven, ideally you need a brick/wooden one for better results, but a good ventilated oven should do it as well. It’s better if the oven can reach 300 Celsius degrees. I found out that electric ovens don’t give you the same result.

Manitoba flour: Manitoba is a particulary strong flour which I haven’t found in Ireland. Therefore I use the Odlums White Strong Flour, this flour has a good proteic value of around 11/12%.

Semolina pasta flour: it’s a yellowish kind of flour, you can find some in Fallon & Byrne, in Exchequer street. It’s expensive but you only need 80gr for this recipe. So you can afford it 😛

Extra virgion olive oil: better not the one of the supermarkets. Find some good oil in the sunday markets around Dun Laoghaire or Howth or Temple bar on Saturday. You can afford 10 euro per litre, can’t you 🙂 It worths it 😛

Sea salt and sugar, dried oregano, some fresh basil leaves

A can of peeled tomato in tomato juice (plain juice, no garlic herbs etc)

Malt extract: it’s the boost of sugar you yeast needs. You can find some in every fair trade market, for example in the Dublin coop food market every saturday. Google for it 😛

Making the poolish (8pm of the day before)

The recipe I’m going to explain needs to be started the night before the night you are going to bake your pizzas. So plan accordingly 😛

  • 500gr of “manitoba” flour. Manitoba is a particularly strong flour which I haven’t found in Ireland. Therefore I use the Odlums White Strong Flour, this flour has a good proteic value of around 11/12%.
  • 500gr of tap water, warm but not hot
  • 1 teaspoon of malt extract
  • 1gr of dried yeast or 3gr of fresh yeast (that is the beer yeast you can find in polish shops in Ireland).

Mix them together roughly until everything is absorbed to obtain something like this:

Then leave for the night in a place with a constant temperature. 18/20C should be fine. The morning after the poolish should be 3 times bigger. For example this is what I found the day after:

Attention: it’s very important that you use the poolish at his maximum power, the morning after you should still see bobbles of air breaking at the surface, as you can problably see in the picture. If the poolish has collapsed or deflated then it’s no good. Try again and find what’s wrong with it. Maybe the flour is not too strong, maybe the temperature was too high, etc. Read books, search the internet 😛

Second phase, the last mix (start around 9am)

Now you have to the remaining of the ingredients:

  • 270gr of white strong flour
  • 80gr of semolina flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 30gr of olive oil

The order is very important. I also use a break machine for mixing (I’m lazy!) but if you have a proper dough mixer (like the Kitchen Aid or Kenwood) then use it 🙂
What you have to do is putting the poolish in the machine, turn it on, and put 2 spoon of the flour, wait for it to absorb, and go on until all the flour has been mixed. Only then add the salt gently, using the same concept of waiting for it to absorb. When you are done with it add the oil all at once. Something very important to do is to sieve the flour as it will inglobe more air into your dough.

Now leave the machine working for 10-15 minutes, until the surface is smooth, this is a sign that the gluten matrix into the dough is developing. Ideally you should be good with this but what I do is to work the dough with my hands in the way showed in the following video I’ve taken:

When you are done with it you should see the surface of the dough very smooth. I use to use water to keep the dough idrated and therefore easier to work as it doesn’t stick with the dough cutter and my hands.

Then take a glass bowl, pour some oil in it, spread all the surface of the bowl with the oil, put the dough inside, cover with transparent kitchen foil, leave it to settle for 30-40 minutes.

Then sprinkle some white strong flour on the pastry board and move the dough on the board. Then you have to do the folding. The folding is a technic to give strenght to the dough, unfortunately I haven’t gotten any video showing how to fold the dough so in the meantime you can look at the video (in italian) that shows how to do it. Just click on the url, because I’m a nerd I’ve given you the pointer to the right frame where the guys starts to fold the dough 😛

When you are done with this, leave to seattle for 30 minutes, then cut pieces of 200-250gr each. And make the classic balls. Then put each ball in a separated hermetic tupperware container and put everything in the fridge and take them out 2 hours before baking.

NB: something I skip this step because for example i have to bake stuff for lunch and not for dinner, the result is good as well but different. The dough is a bit more acid but the taste is good.

Shape your pizzas and bake them (whenever you want, ideally 20pm the day after)

Take the balls out of the fridge and leave them to rest for 2 hours. So if you want to bake at 8pm take them out at 6pm.
Transfer each ball on the board, now, you could write another 1000 words on how to shape the basement but here are few tips:

  • never EVER *EVER* use a kitchen roller as using it you will get all the gas out of the dough and you do not want that!
  • sprinkle some flour to prevent the dough to stick on the board
  • The basics to shape you basemenet are:
    • start pressing with your hand’s palm on the centre of the ball
    • then use your 8 fingers (no thumbs) to flat a bit the dough
    • lean the dough disc on your knuckle and carefully rotate and spread the dough until you reach the desider diameter, if you did everything as planned your dough should be pretty elastic and it should not break even if very thing, this is a sign your gluten matrix is good and strong.

You can find videos on youtube about the correct technic to shape your pizza basement.
When you’re done shaping your pizza, sprinkle some semolina flour on the pizza peel, transfer the basement there and put the topping you want 🙂

Topping suggestions

Tomato sauce

While everyone can put anything he/she wants on his pizza here are few tips for the tomato sauce: take one can of peeled tomato in tomato juice. Pour everything in a bowl, add extra virgin oil, half teaspoon of sugar, half teaspoon of salt (quantities of sugar and/or salt depends on your taste), 2 leafs of basil, some dried oregano. Leave to marinade for 1 hour (yeah you need 1hour so do it reasonably before). Contrary to what people think you do not need to cook the tomato sauce. It will cook on the oven.

The mozzarella

There are different schools, someone cut the mozzarella in very smalls cubes and squeeze them to remove the water, I personally just put the mozzarella in strips, without squeezing any water out of them.
And… I also put all the topping (excluding stuff like rocket salad or parma ham) at once and bake. I don’t do anything like 2 steps baking (someone does first the basement with tomato and then after the cheese, which for the recipe i don’t suggest to do)

How to prepare the oven for the baking and cooking times.

In the meantime the oven was warming up. You want to put the oven to its maximum temperature (250C 300C), ideally the more the better, and let the pizza stone warm, my oven requires around 40-45 minutes to warm the stone properly. If you have the grill and ventilated opinion turn them both!!! Remember, the higher the better as proper pizzeria wooden ovens can reach 300-400C!
Also you want to put the stone as close as possible to the electrical resistance on the ceiling of the oven.
Using the pizza peel put the pizza on the stone and allow to cook, on my oven this requires 3-4 minutes. On a proper pizzeria oven the pizza cooking should require only 1.00/1.30 minutes.

Tips about the baking stone

It’s easy, never wash your baking stone, water is enemy. Humidy will crack your stone, I’ve broken 3 of them in one year 🙁
When you are done just turn off the oven, leave the stone inside, troughout the night, and only clean it the day after using the pizza steel cutter to remove excess of cheese and sauce from the surface. Moisture from food on the surface will contribute to give to your stone a unique character 🙂

This is the result, it worths 24hours waiting 🙂

Have fun and please comment if you have any question 🙂