Watch: A guide to making Margherita Pizza at home


Watch: A guide to making Margherita Pizza at home

Learn how to make pizza dough and tomato sauce from scratch at home



How to make pizza from scratch Video Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

If you have watched the sitcom Friends, then chances are you must have heard of ‘Joey’s special’. In the famous American television drama series, a character who is of Italian origin – Joey - loves to add pepperoni and sauces to his pizza. He orders a one-plus-one pizza and that is known as Joey’s Special Pizza.

Joey’s version aside, pizza is an all-time favourite – be it when watching a game, celebrating or just craving some cheese overload. Therefore, we got cracking on bringing a little backstory and a detailed on this popular staple.

Italians owe the popularisation of pizza to Americans, brought there by immigrants from the European nation. Otherwise, this flatbread was hardly known outside of its birthplace – Naples, in Italy.

Within Italy, a pizza in Naples, will taste different from a pizza in Rome. For instance, Pizzerias in Rome use olive oil in their dough to stretch it thin. Whereas, in Naples they exclude the oil and stick to the essential ingredients, which comprise flour, yeast, water and salt. This makes a Napoletana pizza, soft and chewy as compared to a crisp and crunchy Romana pizza.

Pizza
Classic Margherita Pizza Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

If you were to eat a pizza in Rome, it would be served by the slice. In Naples, the Napoletana pizza would come folded (in four) wrapped in paper called portafoglio.

“For us, pizza is more like a street food, like what a burger is for America,” explained Italian Chef Francesca Busso from the German domestic appliances and commercial equipment brand Miele. “In fact, pepperoni pizza is not Italian, nor is a pineapple pizza.” Nor the Chicago deep-dish pan pizza!

“For us, pizza is more like a street food, like what a burger is for America,” explained Italian Chef Francesca Busso from the German domestic appliances and commercial equipment brand Miele. “In fact, pepperoni pizza is not Italian, nor is a pineapple pizza.” Nor the Chicago deep-dish pan pizza!

- Chef Francesca Busso

Coming to one of the most popular - Margherita Pizza

According to wonderopolis.org, Italian King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy visited Naples in 1889. There, an Italian chef and owner of a tavern called Pizzeria di Pierto e basta cosi was asked to make a pizza. The chef topped the pizza with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil. The queen loved it and declared it as the best pizza she had ever tasted. And that’s how Margherita Pizza got its name.

Making dough for pizza
Making dough for pizza Image Credit: Shutterstock

Food historians believe that pizza was a poor man’s food meant for feeding large families in Italian villages. They usually topped the bread with seasonal toppings or of leftovers. It was only much later that cheese was introduced.

If in Naples, you can walk into Port ’Alba, which is the first pizzeria. If you are in New York, then Lombardi is the pizzeria that opened its door first for pizza.

Here is a step-by-step guide to making pizza at home by Chef Francesca Busso

Pizza
Top it with a seasoning of your choice Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Ingredients

For the tomato sauce:

Tomato sauce
A guide to making tomato sauce Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

400 gms tomatoes 

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp oregano (if not available, substitute with a combination of dried basil and thyme or Italian seasoning)

A pinch of salt 

For the dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour 

1 cup water, room temperature

1 tsp salt 

1 tsp dry yeast

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 ½ cups shredded mozarella cheese

Method

1. In a bowl, add all-purpose flour.

In a bowl add all-purpose flour
In a bowl add all-purpose flour Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

2. Add dry yeast into the bowl and begin mixing them together.

Add dry yeast to the bowl
Add dry yeast to the bowl Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

3. Add olive oil into the bowl and give it a good mix.

Add olive oil
Add olive oil Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

4. Slowly start adding water and begin kneading. Remember to add water little by little.

Add water
Add water Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

5. Knead it for 4 to 5 minutes. Cover the dough and leave it to rise in the refrigerator for atleast 2 days.

Cover the bowl with a cling film
Cover the bowl with a cling film Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

To make the tomato paste/sauce

Purée the tomatoes, add in a pinch of salt, olive oil and oregano. Do not cook the tomatoes, simply blanch them in water to peel off the skin.  

Tomato sauce
A guide to making tomato sauce Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator
Remove the dough from the refrigerator Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

7. Dust semolina on a clean and dry surface. This will help the dough from sticking as you begin spreading the dough to form the base. 

Dust semolina on a clean and dry surface
Dust semolina on a clean and dry surface Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

8. Place the dough on the semolina to avoid it from sticking.

Place the dough on semolina
Place the dough on semolina Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

9. Begin spreading your dough using your fingers, right from the center.  

Pizza dough
Spread the dough Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

10. Keep spreading it further. Leave the edges a little puffed. This also prevents cheese and sauce from overflowing.

Pizza dough
Spread the dough further Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News
Pizza dough
Create a crust by leaving the edges slightly puffed Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

12. Spread it out evenly using your fingers.

Spread the evenly
Spread the dough evenly Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

13. Turn it over using your hands and dust the semolina stuck to the base. 

Making pizza from scratch
Turn it over Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

14. Stretch the dough further with your hands. Be careful not to tear it apart, just a slight stretch to avoid any bubble formation. 

Stretch the dough
Stretch the dough further Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

15. On a clean surface, gently pat the puffed up edges. Do not press to flatten it, just pat gently. 

Pizza from scratch
Slightly stretch the dough Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

16. Give the base a final stretch before you begin adding the toppings. 

Stretch the dough further
Stretch the dough further Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

17. Using a spoon, put some tomato sauce at the center of the base and begin spreading it circularly. Just about 3 tablespoons should be good. 

Begin spreading the tomato sauce
Begin spreading the tomato sauce Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

18. Do not put the sauce on the edges or the slightly puffed up part. 

Pizza dough
Spread the sauce Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

19. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese.

Add cheese to the base
Add cheese to the base Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

20. Place the pizza in a pre-heated oven and bake for 3 to 4 minutes at 180 C.

Note: Always pre-heat your oven and bake your pizza at a high temperature. This will ensure the sauce gets cooked too.

Pizza
Place pizza in the oven to bake. You can always place additional toppings, based on personal preferences
Pizza
Serve pizza warm....

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