Pizza de Luxe
Everybody loves a good eggplant parmigiana. This is a homage to that great dish, albeit in the shape of a Roman pizza.
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You Will Need
½ eggplant (aubergine), trimmed and cut into 3 mm (¹⁄8 inch) slices
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
TO ASSEMBLE / Season all the vegetable slices except the onion, add a little extra virgin olive oil and chargrill for about 30 seconds on each side until tender.
FOR THE SAN MARZANO SAUCE / Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently fry the onion and garlic until transparent. Add the tomato and basil. Season with a couple of pinches of salt and a little pepper. Stir well and simmer slowly until the sauce thickens and most of the water has evaporated. Depending on the tomatoes, this should take 10–15 minutes. Any extra tomato sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for 5–6 days.
TO ASSEMBLE / Cut each pizza square in half, opening it to form a ‘sandwich’. Place the halves on a baking tray. On the bottom half of each place one slice of mozzarella and two slices of scamorza. Heat in a preheated 180°C (350°F) oven for 4–5 minutes until they are crisp on the outside but soft in the middle and the cheese has melted. Once ready, remove from the oven and on each bottom half place three pieces of chargrilled eggplant, 2 tablespoons San Marzano sauce and a tablespoon of grated parmesan. Close each with the top half of the pizza square and finish with some shaved parmesan, three confit tomatoes and a sprig of basil.
Makes 8 filled Roman piz
Roman-Style Pizza Dough Basic
Roman-style pizza is a rectangular, focaccia-like pizza that is famous in Rome. It is light, full of large bubbles and can be filled or topped with many ingredients. Roman-style pizza does not require a wood-fired oven, but traditionally is cooked in a ‘deck’ oven at almost half the temperature of wood-fired pizza. Use stoneground whole-wheat (not wholemeal) flour.
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz/6²⁄³ cups) unbleached, stoneground whole-wheat flour or strong bread flour
3.5 g (¹⁄8 oz) dried (powdered) yeast or 125 g (4½ oz) Sourdough starter (see page 79)
650 ml (23 fl oz) water at room temperature
½ teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
25 ml (1 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
20 g (¾ oz) sea salt
Place the flour in a mixer with a dough hook attachment.
Dissolve the yeast in 100 ml (3½ fl oz) of the water (or if using the sourdough starter, remove 50 ml (1¾ fl oz) of water from the recipe and simply add the starter) and add to the flour along with 400 ml (14 fl oz) of the remaining water and the caster sugar.
Turn on the mixer to its lowest setting and mix for about 2 minutes until the water is totally absorbed. Add the oil and salt and mix in. Double the speed of the mixer and slowly add the remaining water, a little at a time, only adding more when the previous amount has been absorbed. The mixture will look quite wet, but don’t worry, continue mixing for 8–10 minutes and you’ll see that gradually the dough will begin to stretch and form long gluten strands.
Rest the dough for 10 minutes in the mixer bowl, covered with plastic wrap, before folding, leaving to mature in the refrigerator and forming into three sheets (teglie) of Roman-style pizza dough (see pages 86–88).
Makes 3 teglie (550 g/1 lb 4 oz sheets)
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 Roman-style dough
Roman-style pizza is often precooked. It’s convenient because the cooked dough can be kept in the fridge and brought out, topped and heated in the oven when needed.
Preheat the oven to 250°C (500°F) without fan.
Take the sheet of Roman-style pizza dough and if the dough has risen excessively, press down gently with the tips of your fingers to make small indentations.
Bake the pizza in the oven for 11–14 minutes. If the teglia is browning more on one side, your oven is not even and the tray may need to be turned.
Once cooked, remove from the oven and let cool a little before dressing with your toppings or allow to cool completely if using later. The teglia can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.