viernes, 21 de marzo de 2014

Pizza! History and recipe

Welcome to Spring! To celebrate the return of the beautiful season, we bring you a recipe of an all-time classic of italian cuisine, the world renowned italian pizza!

Beside the fact that we don't know when and where the modern pizza was born, we know that its roots are extremely old and fascinating. The first kind of Pizza as we all know it is the Pizza Margherita, born in 1899 by the hands of a chef named Esposito, in occasion of a visit to the city of Naples of Margherita of Savoy, queen of Italy. To honour the royal visit, the chef created a pizza using the iconic colours of the italian flag: red because of the tomato, white for the mozzarella fresh cheese and the green using the basil. 

It might be interesting to know the history of this universal yet so regional dish. The word "pizza" is to be found for the first time in history describing a kind of bread in the year 997 a.C., in a document discovered in the city of Gaeta, between Rome and Naples. During the Renaissance, the word "pizza" started to define a sort of flat, round bread, as we can see in documents found in Naples in XVI century. But still, we have to remeber that we have to wait Cristopher Columbus' discover of America for the pizza to have the excellent tomato sauce over it. Pizza started to get red only after XVII century, creating one of the most successful gastronomical marriages in the history of Mankind, Beside the legend of the pizza being invented to honour a queen, we have also information of recipe books describing a completely modern kind of pizza already in year 1830. 

For example, Alexandre Dumas father, the creator of the Four Mosqueteers, which was one of the many, many frenchmen in love with Naples, enthusiastically described the varieties of pizza he found in Naples years before the visit of the queen Margherita. In a 1866 book, written by Francesco de Bouchard, we find described the three main varieties of Pizza we can still find nowadays: the Margherita, the Marinara and the Calzone.

What we find most strange of all those legends is that...there were times where the a dish as universal as Pizza wasn't already been invented! Today we can find just so many varieties of pizza beyond the Naples' "Originale and verace", for example Genoa, Rome and Sicily (with the excellent streetfood called "sfinciune") are definately worth a mention. It is interesting to notice that today in defence of the quintessential dish of the mediterrean cuisine it has been developed a label to protect the original dish against the awful imitation and not so mediterrean processed pizzas you find in supermarkets, something more linked with the fast food doctrine than it is with the champion of the Slow Food movement as a real neapolitan Pizza without a doubt is. Italy protects the label of Pizza Napoletana verace since year 1984, and European Union since 2010. Next step is to protect this excellence also in the United States.

But let us get back to the recipe!

We use to eat lots of home made pizza with the original ingredients and we've tried lots of pizza everywhere in Italy, everywhere there are different recipes, different doughs, different tricks...let's say we have a considerable to-do list when it comes to talk about pizzas! We'll talk about each one of them in different post you'll find here, in our blog! 

Today for example we'll bring you a very fast kind of dough that permits you to obtain excellent results if you like crusty and thin pizzas. Generally those recipes are a little bit by eye, but this time I measured all the ingredients to help you with the task. 

Italian dry yeast from Paneangeli

  • 460 g. flour ( 4 cup aprox.)
  • 10 g. or 2 tsp of fine salt
  • 5 g. or a spoonful of sugar 
  • 30 g. olive oil
  • 310 g. of water
  • 1 packet of dry yeast 


-Start with pouring in a bowl some water, then warm it up for example putting it in an microwave oven, just for a moment. Once the water is warm, put the yeast over it, and let it activate for some 3 minutes. I prefer to use the italian yeast from Paneangeli, but in Spain I also use the one from Maizena, or elsewhere...well use your own local yeast used by bakers. 

The yeast activating

- In another bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and finally the water with the activated yeast. Put it all together and mix the dough. For this step, you can use a dough mixer, a Thermomix or what you have in your house. When all the ingredients are well mixed together, stir them some 10 minutes if you use a food mixer (for the Thermomix, use spike speed, for Kitchen Aid, use speed 2) or until the dough is completely smooth and with no imperfections. Keep in mind that the longer you knead the dough, the better it would be! 

The dough kneading
-Once the dough is mixed, we pass our dough in a surface covered with some flour, shape it as a ball and we cut it in half or we cut as many pieces as the pizzas we desire to obtain. With those quantities you can get three round pizza (European size), or a single big baking tray square pizza and a mid sized one, you choose! 

-let the dough rest in a bowl with the surface covered with olive oil in order to not let it stick to the bowl, and beside that we brush some oil also above the dough in order not to create a sort of crust. We do not need a lot of oil, just a little to create a protection. We cover the bowl with plastic wrap and we let it rest. You can let it rest any longer, but the ideal would be around one or two hours. if you have a warm place in your house, put there the dough. In summertime the dough rest time are generally shorter, unless you live in Canada he he he! You can also put your bowl in a (turned off) oven. Our doughs will grow, but don't worry, they will not grow so much they will fall out of the bowl! 

 -After an hour or two, in a surface covered with some flour put one of the doughs. Just turn the bowl upside down, the dough will fall naturally, so that the lower part will be the top of our pizza. My secret is to use for P.A.N. flour or cornstarch instead of the normal flour in order to dry out the dough and even a little bit toasted. Just put it on the upper part, remember this dough is not to be turned upside down...and you can't even knead the dough after the dough rest. Take the dough off the bowl and start stretching the dough from above, put you fingers inside the dough and open them, whilst turning the dough like it was a steering wheel. To me this technique it works the best, try it and you'll tell me! This dough it stretches very fast and easy, be delicate in this phase because the dough will be extremely thin in a matter of seconds, and you will not even need a rollin pin, everything with hands, old school!

Stretching the dough
-As for the toppings, you decide! It's a matter of taste and what our guests like best. But remember that being this a very thin dough I would not put just too many ingredients over it, in order to be sure that it will not eventually break. Anyway, if you are a whole-lotta-ingredients lover, we can cook a little bit the dough with tomato sauce and cheese first, then open the oven and put the rest of the ingredients. In this way the base will hold everything you put over your pizza. 


For instance, I decided to have my pizza with tuna, champignon mushrooms, onion and a little bit of Gorgonzola cheese, beside, of course, of the mozzarella fresh cheese. I put every ingredients right from the start, with the exception of the champignon mushrooms, because the latter were fresh and I did not want them to overcook them. The order with the topping is always the same: tomato sauce first, then mozzarella and after that all the rest. In my case I use a kind of mozzarella made specifically for pizzas, or "mozzarella filante", and fresh mozzarella, or "mozzarella fiordilatte". 

Mozzarella and Gorgonzola cheeses

-Preheat the oven at 180° celsius with no fan and we'll have our own home made tasty, thin and crispy pizza! But while in the oven, always keep an eye on it, because every oven is a world of its own...and next step, the most important of you pizza right where you are!

The true thin and crispy pizza


Spicy tomato sauce: 

Sometimes I add to my pizzas another tasty touch with an home made spicy tomato sauce. To do so, I add to the tomato sauce garlic powder (not fresh garlic, you don't want to cook it fresh, otherwise it would taste badly), oregano, dark pepper and salt. Stir the mix and use it as the base for our pizzas. It will just taste soo good! 

Note: We can preserve our Gorgonzola in the fridge if we cut it in little pieces and we cover it with oilve oil. In this way it will be ready for whatever gastronomical creation! 

Greetings and enjoy your pizza! 


Our Bowl learned how to make a proper pizza from the masters

4 comentarios:

  1. this recipe is just what I need.. I never made a pizza myself, except the the one I made in papa's pizzeria game, but the real one, never! this will be my first try hehe, wish me luck :P

    1. Glad to hear that the recipe was useful to you! ;) Let us know how your first homemade pizza was if you want! :)
      Once you start making your own pizza, there's no going back, trust us! :)