What better way to spend a New Year’s Eve than learning the art of pizza making, wine, and good company?
Due to COVID-19, 2020 New Year’s Eve festivities are quiet and low key in Australia also around the world, so decide to do the same. There isn’t a better time like now than to make pizzas from scratch.
It’s been a decade since I’ve made pizza. Embarrassing, I know. Especially for someone with Italian heritage and spending almost 4 years in Italy. Let’s face it, pizza in Italy isn’t expensive, it’s heavenly, and sold on just about every corner – why would I make it?
Decide to invite my good friend and fabulous cook, Luciana, from Touring Abruzzo to see in the new year and be the head Pizzaiolo (pizza chef).
If you haven’t heard of Touring Abruzzo, check out Luciana’s site for great bespoke tours around Abruzzo, Puglia, Basilicata, and Sardinia. With a history of running successful tours in Italy for 16 years, repeat customers, and ancestral heritage in Abruzzo, rest assured that Luciana is passionate about introducing you to her region. When Luciana can’t be with you on tour, a local guide accompanies you to ensure the best possible and authentic experience. Heritage tours to discover your roots are also available.
The only background you need about a pizza is that it’s delicious, moorish, and cannot be ignored. Evolving from flatbread, which the Romans, ancient Egyptians, and Greeks covered with favourite toppings including herbs, this eventually became known as pizza in Naples. But only during the 18th-century. Why did it take so long?
Do you make your own pizza from scratch?
If so, leave your recipe below in the comments. And, if you have a secret-family, nonna, or well-proven tip to help me or new-comers to pizza-making, then please share as I’d also love to hear about these. Let’s keep the authentic homemade pizza-making tradition going. Thanks!
Now, onto making scrumptious pizzas…
Setting up to make pizzas…
Of course, before you start making a pizza, you first need to pour yourself a good-size goblet of vino or prosecco – it’s essential and a tradition – mine anyway. 😉
Luciana’s easy pizza recipe
Luciana’s recipe comes from her head. As with most Italian cooks, everything is done by ‘feel’, nothing seems to be weighed or scribed.
Makes at least 3 large pizzas or 4 small pizzas.
1 kg plain flour
1 packet/sachet dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
650 ml (approximately) water at room temperature. Add more if the dough is too dry.
2 tbs olive oil
Let’s make pizza
- Preheat oven to maximum, or at least 200°C.
- In a bowl, add the flour, sugar, yeast, and slowly add water, then oil.
- Mix ingredients well into a soft dough (sticky at this stage).
- Add salt and mix. Tip: Don’t add salt before the yeast is mixed in as this deactivates the yeast.
- Cover bowl with a clean tea towel and place in a warm sheltered spot. Leave to rise for at least an hour – more is preferable until the mixture doubles in size.
- Remove mixture from the bowl. Knead lightly on a floured surface. Sprinkle more flour as required.
- Shape out the dough to roughly fit the pizza baking tray or pizza stone, then roll out to a thin dough.
- Grease tray with a little oil and dust with flour. Place the dough on the tray.
- Swirl sauce over the base.
- Add delicious toppings. Tonight’s toppings:
- Pizza in the tray – salami, eggplant, roasted pumpkin, capsicum, bocconcini, ricotta, parmesan, fresh basil.
- Pizza in the cake tin – speck (although this looks like Guanciale to me), mushroom, eggplant, bocconcini, feta, parmesan, fresh basil and parsley. Guanciale is cured meat prepared from pork jowl or cheeks.
- Cook in a hot oven until the cheese is bubbling and a deep luscious brown. The base needs to be crispy.
Tip: When topping pizzas, resist the urge to overload your pizza and do as the Italians do – less is best.
Each region of Italy has its own version. In Calabria, pizzas are thin-crust, while in Naples it’s a thicker crust.
With only 1 pizza tray, we improvise and use a large stainless steel cake tin!
What are your favourite pizza toppings?
While waiting for the pizza dough to rise, you can make your heavenly but simple, pizza sauce. If you’re strapped for time, make the sauce ahead of time and freeze or refrigerate, so it’s ready when you make the pizzas.
1 chopped onion
2 chopped garlic gloves
1 bottle Passata
bunch of fresh chopped basil and parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
How to make a simple pizza sauce
- In a saucepan, heat the oil.
- Add chopped onion and garlic. Fry until onion is cooked.
- Add Passata and cook for a few minutes.
- Add fresh herbs and continue to cook. The longer you cook the sauce, the richer the result.
- Cool slightly before adding to the pizza base.
The final result? Scrumptious and tantalising! What a great way to spend New Year’s Eve.
A couple of videos to inspire you to try a little pizza-making at home – these videos weren’t planned.
Let me know what you think. I didn’t realise that we would be videoing this pizza-making event, so we’re both au natural!
Thank you, Luciana, for the pizza recipe, teaching and reminding me how to make pizza but next time maybe a little less prosecco, so I do remember!
Check out this video of a professional Calabrese pizzaiolo creating delightful and authentic pizzas at my good friend Maria’s fantastic, party in Rogliano, Calabria. Everyone seems to own serious outdoor, pizza ovens in this quaint mountain village!