Pizza De Luxe
Most often it’s the soft, delicate cheeses that are used on pizza, but when an assertive blue like gorgonzola is used, it dominates. The other ingredients support and complement. Potato is there for texture, radicchio as a flavour foil and rosemary binds the whole.
Makes one 30 cm (12 inch) pizza
Use waxy, yellow-fleshed potatoes and to cut them very thin, use a mandolin or a food processor with a potato slicer. It’s important that the potato slices are thin and see-through because they have to cook in a relatively short amount of time.
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You Will Need
FOR THE ROSEMARY OIL / Finely chop the rosemary leaves with a very sharp knife. Place in a bowl and cover the leaves with the olive oil. Cover the bowl and place in a cool spot for 2 hours. Remove the leaves from the oil by passing through a fine sieve. Place the oil in a small squeezy bottle, ready to use. Any leftover oil can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month.
TO ASSEMBLE / Place a large tile in your oven for the pizza, then turn the oven up to preheat to full heat (without using any fan-forced function) for at least 20 minutes (see page 89). Thinly slice the mozzarella and scatter evenly, here and there, to top the shaped pizza base, leaving the edges clear to about 3–4 cm (1½ inches). Scatter the radicchio and gorgonzola evenly over the pizza. Lay the potato slices on top. Season with a little salt, a couple of turns of the pepper mill and cook the pizza for 3–5 minutes until cooked, turning to get an even colour. Once out of the oven, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the rosemary oil, scatter the rosemary leaves on top and serve.
Basic pizza dough
The direct method for producing pizza dough is the easiest because all the ingredients are mixed together at about the same time. This is the method that the large majority of pizza-makers use because it’s simple and quick.
For our recipes, however, we extend the maturation phase of the dough in the refrigerator so the final cooked pizza is easily digested and the flavour of the wheat maximised. Using an unrefined, stoneground whole-wheat (not wholemeal) flour is important because of its rich nutrients and the fact that it means less yeast is needed for fermentation and the maturation phase is thus more effective.
Fresh Yeast Dough
This recipe is for making pizza at home using ‘fresh’ or compressed yeast. Each 250 g (9 oz) ball of dough will make one 30 cm (12 inch) pizza, which feeds one person.
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz/6²⁄³ cups) unbleached, stoneground whole-wheat flour or strong bread flour
550 ml (19 fl oz) water at room temperature
8 g (¼ oz) fresh (compressed) yeast
20 g (¾ oz) sea salt
30 ml (1 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
Place the flour and 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) of the water in a mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Begin mixing on a low speed and keep mixing until the flour has absorbed all the water but is still not smooth. This should take only 3–4 minutes. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest in the bowl for 15–20 minutes.
Meanwhile, dissolve the yeast in the remaining water. Once the dough has rested, turn the mixer on to medium and add the dissolved yeast. Two minutes later, add the salt, mix for 2 minutes and then add the olive oil. Keep mixing until the dough is shiny and homogenous, about 6 minutes. Turn the speed up a little and mix for 2 minutes more.
A good way to check the elasticity is right is to stretch a piece of dough and if it forms a strong, transparent membrane without breaking (similar to blowing a bubble with gum), it is ready. Let the dough sit, covered with plastic wrap, for 30 minutes in winter or 15 minutes in summer. The dough is now ready to be shaped into balls and then rested further in the refrigerator before shaping into discs (see pages 80–83).
Makes 6 pizze (250 g/9 oz each)
Shaping Basic Dough into Balls
Once the dough is ready to be shaped, take a bench scraper and cut off a piece from the edge.
The dough will feel soft, airy and malleable. Take the piece of dough at one end and, using both hands, form a ball about 200–250 g (7–9 oz) in size. Work by tucking the folds under the ball so that the top surface is taut and smooth.
Pinch the dough underneath the formed ball to separate it from the long piece of dough.
Repeat this procedure to make more balls.
Roll each ball gently on the work surface to make it even and round.
Place the balls on a covered non-stick tray. Make sure there is at least one ball width between each ball and the edges of the tray and that the balls don’t touch the cover. Use a fine mist water spray to hydrate the surface of the balls once they are on the tray. Let rise for 1 hour at 20–24°C (68–75°F). After resting, place in a refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 18 hours. The balls can sit in the refrigerator at around 4–5°C (39–41°F) for up to 3 days.
Shaping Basic Dough into Bases
Once the dough has matured and tripled in size, remove from the refrigerator and leave at ambient temperature for 3–4 hours (less in summer and more in winter) before forming the bases. Choose the dough ball to be used and lightly sprinkle some flour on top and along the edges where it touches the surrounding balls.
Use the bench scraper to separate the dough ball from its neighbours.
Lift the dough ball from the tray and turn bottom side up, revealing the bubbles.
Place the dough ball, still bottom side up, on a small mound of flour and turn it over in the flour so that both sides are covered.
Begin by using your fingers to form the cornice (border) and push the dough out, making the circle larger.
Once it has doubled in circumference, remove from the flour and place on the work surface.
Keeping one hand on one side of the base, gently stretch the opposite side with the other hand and lift and slap the dough circle from side to side. This will stretch the gluten in the dough and the base will get larger and larger.
Once stretched to the desired size (our pizze are around 30 cm/12 inches in diameter), place the base back on the work surface and neaten into a circle. The pizza base is now ready to dress with the toppings and then bake.
Cooking basic dough
Shaped and topped, here you’ll find instructions for cooking your round pizze.
In a wood-fired oven
With the floor temperature between 360–400°C (680–750°F), a pizza will take around 90 seconds to cook. Some pizzaioli cook at temperatures up to 450°C (840°F) and this takes less time. The pizza is put directly on to the oven floor to cook, thereby getting an immediate ‘lift’.
In a domestic oven
My suggestion is to find a large terracotta tile that fits onto your oven rack. Place the rack on the bottom rung of your oven and the tile on top, giving you plenty of room above to manipulate the pizza. Turn to full heat without using any fan-forced function and let the oven run for at least 20 minutes to heat the tile completely. When the pizza is ready, use a floured paddle to take it from the bench on to the tile. Close the oven immediately.
At around 250–280°C (480–535°F) a pizza takes 3–5 minutes to cook, depending on your oven temperature. It will have a crisp, bread-like texture and should be no less delicious than the wood-fired version.