Pizza Margherita

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I’m a recent convert to organic stone-ground flour, which we source from a near-by Dutch windmill enterprise. The difference in quality between this flour and the commercial, treated stuff they sell in supermarkets is huge. So, as much as possible, I’m going to phase out commercial flour products and use this wonderful organic product instead. I thought I’d start with pizza!

I love the simplicity of Pizza Margherita – the few ingredients allow you to really appreciate the subtlety of the flavours. I combined, and further adapted, two different recipes, one for the Passata (tomato sauce) and one for the pizza base.  I chose the Passata recipe (with thanks to Taste.com.au) because it was simple, yet tasty and I didn’t want to spend the requisite amount of time necessary to create an authentic Passata. The Pizza Margherita recipe was ultra-simple too (thanks to BBC Good Food.com). Enjoy!


PIZZA MARGHERITA

Makes two large pizzas (serves 4-6)

Ingredients: (Click here for unit converter)

For the base:

  • 300g bread flour (I used organic, stone-ground flour) *see note below for using white spelt flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast (from a sachet or a tub)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 200ml warm water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

For the Passata:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced or finely chopped)
  • 2 x 400g can whole peeled tomatoes (refer to the original recipe if you want to use fresh)
  • 4 tsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp sugar (optional)
  • Handful of mixed, fresh herbs (such as oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

For the topping:

  • 125g sliced mozzarella & extra grated Parmesan (optional)
  • Handful cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Handful fresh basil leaves

Method:

  1. For the Passata: Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, herbs and salt and pepper. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes or until the sauce reduces and thickens. Taste and adjust seasoning as required. Put aside while you make the pizza bases.
  2. Heat oven to 230°C (445°F) and put a baking sheet (or pizza stone) onto the baking tray on the middle shelf. The pre-heated baking sheet or pizza stone will help crisp up the base.
  3. For the pizza bases: Put the flour into a large bowl, then stir in the yeast and salt. Make a well, pour in the warm water and the olive oil and bring together with a wooden spoon until you have a soft, fairly wet dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for approx. 5 mins or until smooth. Halve the dough and shape into two balls. If not using immediately, put aside and cover with a tea-towel (it doesn’t need to rise, as it’s a thin crust anyway).
  4. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into 2 large thin rounds (about 25cm across), using a rolling pin. Lift the rounds onto 2 lined baking sheets. Smooth sauce over each base with the back of a spoon. Scatter with cheese rounds, extra grated Parmesan if using (I didn’t use any on this occasion) and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season.
  5. Put one pizza on top of the preheated baking sheet or pizza stone**. Bake for around 15-20 mins until crisp. Put it in the oven warmer while you repeat the process with the other pizza. Let them cool for a couple of minutes and serve with fresh basil leaves scattered over the top.

Notes:

*You can easily use white spelt flour instead of wheat-based flour in this recipe. Simply reduce the amount of warm water to 180ml.

**If you’re able to, you can always cook both pizzas at the same time, swapping them around half way through for even cooking.


Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Canon 50mm 1.8 lens / Natural lighting

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