Back to pizza basics

Keep it simple ... use just a few, flavousome toppings for perfect pizza.
Keep it simple ... use just a few, flavousome toppings for perfect pizza. Photo: Marina Oliphant

Pizza is a fantastic version of fast food, and is quite a healthy meal when you make it yourself. I prefer a thin crust with not too many toppings to keep the base crispy. Adding fewer toppings means it's important to use big flavours so the pizza is really tasty.

The only unusual item needed is a large, unsealed terra cotta floor tile, which you soak for at least an hour in cold water before using. I turn my convection oven up to 250C, put the tile in the centre and let it heat before I start.

After making the pizza base on a floured bench, I sprinkle a little yellow polenta onto a cutting board and place the rolled-out base on it. Add the toppings, and the pizza is ready for the oven. Hold the board in one hand, open the oven and shake the board from side to side, gently tipping it until the pizza slides on to the tile. Close the oven and after about eight minutes lift the pizza with tongs to see if the base is brown and cooked. If it's ready, take the pizza out and drizzle with a little olive oil. This technique will work for any type of pizza.

PIZZA DOUGH

400g plain flour

100g yellow polenta

2 tsp fine salt

7g dried yeast

1.5 cups warm water

Advertisement

In a bowl, combine dry ingredients then pour warm water into a well in the centre. Mix until dough forms then knead for 5 minutes. Place dough in a floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. At the same time, soak pizza tile in water for 1 hour. When dough is ready, place on a floured surface and cut into 6 even pieces. Preheat oven to 250C and put tile in. Roll out dough pieces into a rough, round shape to about 3 millimetres thick then top with one of the options below, or make up your own.

Makes 6 pizzas

ZUCCHINI, GREEN OLIVE, MINT AND FETTA PIZZA

600ml tomato passata

200g mozzarella, sliced

12 mint leaves

3 zucchinis, cut in thin slices

Freshly ground black pepper

24 green olives, pitted

200g fetta cheese

With the rolled-out pizza base on a cutting board, smear a little tomato passata over it, keeping it away from the edge. Add a few pieces of mozzarella, then tear 2 mint leaves and stick them into the passata. Top with 3-4 slices of zucchini, a grind of black pepper, a few olives and finish with a crumble of fetta. Cook as described, repeat with remaining pizza bases.

Makes 6

CHORIZO AND PRAWN PIZZA

600ml tomato passata

200g mozzarella, sliced

3 raw chorizo sausages, thinly sliced

18 medium-sized prawns, tails removed

12 basil leaves

With the rolled-out pizza base on a cutting board, smear a little tomato passata over the base as above. Add few pieces of mozzarella cheese, then some chorizo slices and finish with 3 prawns. When cooked, remove from oven, tear 2 basil leaves and scatter over pizza. Repeat for remaining pizza bases.

Makes 6