I quite often make pizza, but I was getting fed up with the crust being soggy in the middle. I wanted to replicate the effect of putting a pizza onto a shelf in one of those very hot ovens you get in places like Pizza Express or Zizzi’s. So I decided to try laying the pizza on pieces of backing parchment and then placing the pizza (on the baking parchment) on top of an already very hot baking sheet.
Makes 2 25cm pizzas:
- 100ml milk
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp dried active yeast
- 250g strong white flour
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- A little luke warm water
- 200ml tomato sauce
- 5 chestnut mushrooms (thinly sliced)
- 1/2 large green pepper (cored, deseeded and sliced)
- 125g mozzarella ball (cut into small cubes)
- 12 black olives (stoned and halved)
Heat the milk (in a measuring jug in the microwave) to blood heat (c. 37C – or when you put your finger in it and it’s neither hot nor cold). About 350W for 10 seconds may achieve this, but it’s a bit hit and miss, and depends on the starting temperature for the milk. If it’s too hot allow to cool for a bit to avoid killing the yeast.
Stir the sugar into the milk and then sprinkle the yeast on top and stir. Leave covered in a warm place (eg airing cupboard) for about 15 minutes.
Sift the flour into a large bowl. Warm this up a bit (say microwave at 350W for 10 seconds). Mix the olive oil with the yeasty milk and mix in with the flour (use your hands). Wipe the dough round the edge of the bowl to incorporate all the flour. You want quite a dry dough, but not too dry (ie you don’t want it to crack), so if it’s too dry add a little luke warm water (if you add too much you can always add some more flour). Take the dough out of the bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead until the dough is smooth (demo video here – although this small quantity will not require kneading for 10 minutes!).
Place the dough ball back in the bowl, cover (I find those charity clothes collection bags really useful here!) and place somewhere warm. You don’t need to use an airing cupboard, the dough will rise at any reasonable room temperature, but it will take longer. In an airing cupboard the dough should be ready within an hour.
When the dough has risen. Divide in to two balls. Flatten them out, and roll each on a floured surface until they are the size and shape of a large plate. Transfer to sheets of baking parchment.
Set the oven as hot as it will go (mine does 260C (Gas Mark 9)). Place two metal baking sheets on the oven shelves.
Smear tomato sauce generously on each pizza. Arrange the sliced mushroom and pepper on top, and then sprinkle with cheese and olives.
Leave for about 15 minutes, and then place each of the pieces of baking parchment (with the pizza on them) on top of a very hot baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200C (Gas Mark 6) and cook for a further 8 minutes (or until the cheese is just starting to brown). Enjoy!