Pizza Making: Abruzzese Calabrese-style

What better way to spend a New Year’s Eve than learning the art of pizza making, wine, and good company?

Pizza making Abruzzese Calabrese-style

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?

Pizza chef

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.

Pizza background

Love pizza?

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. 😉

Photo credit: Neil Lintern

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.

Pizza Ingredients

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

  1. Preheat oven to maximum, or at least 200°C.
  2. In a bowl, add the flour, sugar, yeast, and slowly add water, then oil.
  3. Mix ingredients well into a soft dough (sticky at this stage).
  4. Add salt and mix. Tip: Don’t add salt before the yeast is mixed in as this deactivates the yeast.
  5. 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.
  6. Remove mixture from the bowl. Knead lightly on a floured surface. Sprinkle more flour as required.
  7. Shape out the dough to roughly fit the pizza baking tray or pizza stone, then roll out to a thin dough.
  8. Grease tray with a little oil and dust with flour. Place the dough on the tray.
  9. Swirl sauce over the base.
  10. 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.
  11. 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!

homemade pizza
Improvised pizza tray
homemade pizza
Ready for oven
homemade pizza
Sprinkle with parmesan

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.

Sauce ingredients

olive oil

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

  1. In a saucepan, heat the oil.
  2. Add chopped onion and garlic. Fry until onion is cooked.
  3. Add Passata and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Add fresh herbs and continue to cook. The longer you cook the sauce, the richer the result.
  5. Cool slightly before adding to the pizza base.
homemade pizza, ready for the oven
Almost ready…
homemade pizza, ready for the oven
Ready for the oven

The final result? Scrumptious and tantalising! What a great way to spend New Year’s Eve.

homemade pizza

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!

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts at Image Earth Travel.

Happy New Year to everyone!



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38 responses to “Pizza Making: Abruzzese Calabrese-style”

  1. equinoxio21 Avatar

    Looks yummy. We do pizza here, but we cheat: Use a conventional French pie paste. The one you would use for apple pie. Just change the topping. Don’t tell Italians, I might be shot on sight next time I go. 😉 🇮🇹

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      French pie paste? Apple pie? Quelle horreur! 🤣
      You would be shot in Italy! You can’t deviate from a traditional recipe in some regions…

      1. equinoxio21 Avatar

        I know, I know. Que vergonia. We actually had one today… sans anchovies, which are hard to find here.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha, you make me laugh!
        Love anchovies and they’re very popular in Calabria…am missing the food.

      3. equinoxio21 Avatar

        I can imagine. I have no idea what Australian food is like? Lots of meat? BBQ?

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Oh you know, in addition to the British food legacy, Australians do have good BBQs but also with a lot of seafood.
        We’re so multi-cultural that everything is readily available here, so don’t really miss out for choice. One thing I’ve noticed is that in southern Italy, everything tastes so much better and believe it’s because fruit and veg are seasonal. In Oz, most things are picked almost green, 6-plus months in advance, then held in cold storage until hitting the shelves – tasteless.

      5. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Seafood is nice. I will pass on the oxtail soup. 🍜
        Interesting that they should pick it up green. I don’t imagine there are any major logistics problems in OZ. There must be enough roads and air transport to supply fresh produce. Well, you will go back to Italy. Some day.

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha, haven’t had oxtail soup for decades.
        You’d think there isn’t but everything is “blamed” on transport costs and the “vast” areas in Oz – rubbish.
        One day…

      7. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Rubbish indeed. I have a feeling there are a few “dark sides” to the “Australian Dream”. No offence. I just spent my life analyzing the things hiding behind the “façade”, or speech or appearances…

      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Only a few? British understatement.
        Tragically, it’s the facade that the masses believe and trust. As we get older and experience changes over decades, we realise (sooner or later) that we were sold a lemon. Some come to the conclusion earlier and drop out of the churning machine but labelled as social outsiders for not playing the game. 😳

      9. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Remember I’m a quarter English. Understatement is my middle name. 😉
        And yes, we were sold a lemon. A whole batch of it. For me it may be even worse, since I spent most of my life “South” in dictatorships, mock democracies, Elections where the “leader” gets 95% of votes, no justice, corruption everywhere. I’d come to regard the “West” as a “haven” where things were not that bad… We need that desert island bad. I’ll vote for you.

      10. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha, I was thinking the same! The desert island sounds like utopia, but I’d hope that no one need to be in charge… 😉
        BTW your comment went to my Trash folder – quite annoying.

  2. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    Looks like a lot of fun! 🙂 I’m making pizza tonight!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Had a fantastic evening making pizzas and sharing good times with Luciana, catching up with many friends. 🙂

  3. PattyConnects Avatar

    Yummy, yummy. Stopping by to wish you a fabulous year, dear Nilla. Fingers crossed, you will be able to travel this year again 😉 Big hug, XxX

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Happy New Year Patty!
      This was a yummy night. 😉
      Hope that you’re able to travel this year, but I don’t like our chances. In Australia, we’re being told end of 2021-2022. xx

  4. Christie Avatar

    Best pizza we’ve had was in Italy, of course! After a long walk around the archeological site in Herculaneum, we found a small, family owned place, were we’ve had 2 huge amazingly tasty pizzas. Mine was quattro fromaggi🙂 No prosecco though, it was a hot day LOL

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      I love the quattro formaggio variety, especially with blue cheese – so delicious!
      It’s fun making pizza together, you should try it – invite friends around and make it a treat. 🙂

      1. Christie Avatar

        My first experience with pizza was when I was in college; my husband (today) was inviting classmates sometimes at his house and he was cooking pizza for us. Then I thought I might keep him all for myself😍 We do make pizza sometimes, but now we have a bread machine, so easy to make the dough LOL And we put so much stuff for topping!!

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha, great story!
        I don’t have a bread machine as it would be too lethal – I’d be eating bread all the time!
        As children, we used to pack on the toppings but Italy taught me less is best. 😉

      3. Christie Avatar

        So true, less is best, you can feel each flavour individually, but neh, my hubby wants so many😉
        I know, fresh bread is amazingly good, but I’ve learned how to do it wisely. I slice them (I normally do 2 loaves at a time) once they are cold, and freeze them in small packs in zip locks. They have same freshness when you unfreeze them after several days.

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Yes, indeed and In Italy, it’s all about ‘feeling’ every flavour individually!
        That sounds like a great idea and would help to stop devouring a whole loaf in one sitting. 😉

  5. rahult&m Avatar

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    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

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      1. rahult&m Avatar

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      3. rahult&m Avatar

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      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

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  6. karenincalabria Avatar

    Nice! I make pizza dough in my bread machine, but it seems roughly like yours. I don’t worry too much about the shape and don’t have a special pan, just put it on a cookie sheet. As I am always trying to streamline, I don’t usually bother with sauce and I’ve also discovered that I don’t have to worry about burning the cheese (mozzarella and/or what’s in my fridge) if I put it on the bottom. Above that I often put sliced tomatoes and red onions tossed in olive oil, a little peperoncino, and anchovies on top. Buon appetito! I had it tonight!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      That sounds like an easy and delicious recipe Karen! I love anchovies so would definitely make your version.
      So you like a pizza bianca? I much prefer a tomato base, so stick to this and I’m sure I’ll make more in the future. 😉

  7. the eternal traveller Avatar

    How delicious! The best pizza we’ve ever had was in Montmartre in Paris. Like you said, the toppings weren’t overdone and it was finished off with buffalo mozzarella. Divine! Of course, we’re yet to visit Italy so we might find an even better pizza there. My daughter makes a great pizza from scratch.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Fresh buffalo mozzarella is the best! I’m finding it difficult buying it here in Brisbane and need to look for an Italian deli – it was in every shop in southern Italy so got very spoilt.
      Lucky you that your daughter makes pizza!
      I’ve tried pizza around the world and in different regions of Italy, but much prefer southern Italy’s version as it’s think crust and delicious!

      1. the eternal traveller Avatar

        We have a wonderful deli here and it sells buffalo mozzarella. It also sells many other gorgeous products and is my go to place for edible gifts.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Sounds amazing!
        We have an Italian deli/restaurant just outside of Brisbane’s CBD and although the products are good, it’s prohibitively expensive, so not a weekly shopping venue!
        I was too spoilt in southern Italy as prices were inexpensive for everything.

  8. Yeah, Another Blogger Avatar

    Pizza. Possibly my favorite food. I used to have pizza two or three times a week. But, for health reasons, I’ve had to cut back a lot. Once or twice a month is what I do now. See ya.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Totally understand and whilst I can’t eat pizza several times a week (bungs me up), I do love homemade pizza.
      This is the first time since leaving Italy in January 2020 that I’ve eaten pizza, so a homemade one was worthing waiting for…

  9. wetanddustyroads Avatar

    Love pizza! Will try and follow your instructions for a home-made one 🍕 … enjoyed your impromptu video’s!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks for your comment Berto and Corna!
      Pizza is so much more delicious when homemade – trust me, it’s easy, especially with Prosecco! 😂

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