My Sunday Pizza Tradition
by eat in my kitchen
Another tradition of mine – I always bake pizza on Sundays, always. My friends joke about my unwavering dedication (I barely break this tradition) but to me pizza is the ultimate cosy mood food. Nothing beats an evening on my sofa with a nice big piece of pizza in my hands and a good movie. It’s the perfect preparation for a smooth transition into a new week. So why change it. The only variation is what’s on top which depends on the season, my appetite and spontaneous inspiration. So far, my Sunday tradition has never seemed boring.
For today, my pizza gets a topping with aubergine slices (grilled with garlic and oregano oil), Pecorino slices and one part with ricotta. A very concentrated tomato sauce with lots of oregano and slices of organic Mozzarella go with it, that’s all it needs. I make the pizza dough with olive oil which makes it richer and very tasty. A very easy recipe, it takes its time to rise but it’s worth it. Nothing beats homemade pizza dough! It makes such a big difference to the taste – and kneading the dough with your own hands is great stress relief!
For years I made my pizza base the same way. First I let it rise in a bowl and then, a second time, on a baking sheet before I put the topping on. This summer I got a great tip from a friend of mine from Switzerland. He told me to put the baking sheet for the pizza on the bottom of the oven while the oven is heating up. As soon as the baking sheet is hot you take it out of the oven and flip it over. You take the well risen pizza dough (which has been rolled out) and place it on the hot baking sheet. The dough will start to rise and bake straight away which makes an amazing crust – like pizza stone. Once the topping is on, bake it in the oven for a few minutes and you will get the crispiest pizza you can imagine!
Pizza with Aubergine and Pecorino
I start to prepare the dough 2 hours before I bake it to give it enough time to rise.
For 1 big pizza (size of 1 baking sheet) you need
For the dough
plain flour 350g / 12.5 ounces plus more for mixing
dry yeast 1 package for 500g / 1 pound of flour
water, lukewarm, 190ml
olive oil 3 tablespoons
salt 1 teaspoon
Combine the flour with the yeast and salt, add the olive oil and the lukewarm water, slowly, not all at once (you might not need all of it). Mix with your dough hooks for a few minutes. The dough shouldn’t be moist and sticky at all, more on the dry side. Continue kneading and punching with your hands until you have an elastic dough ball, not too hard, not sticky. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover it with a tea towel and let it rise in the warm oven (35°C / 95°F) for 40 minutes. This works really well but make sure that your oven is set to top/ bottom heat and not to fan.
When the dough is well risen, roll it out on a very well floured (this is very important!) working surface. It should be a bit smaller than the size of your baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let it rise for another 10-15 minutes
For the tomato sauce
tinned tomatoes 400g / 14 ounces
oregano, dried or fresh, 1 tablespoon plus more for topping
salt (1 teaspoon) and pepper
Mix the ingredients in a small sauce pan, chop the tomatoes and let everything cook down until very concentrated and thick. If you leave the sauce too liquid it will be soaked up by your pizza base.
For the topping
I prepared the grilled aubergine a day before. You can keep it in the fridge for days and use it for other recipes as well, or enjoy it as antipasti.
aubergine, cut in thick slices, 1
garlic, crushed, 1 clove
olive oil to brush the aubergine and to drizzle on top of the pizza
salt and pepper
Pecorino cheese, cut in thin slices, 100g / 3.5 ounces
mozzarella, cut in cubes, 125g / 4.5 ounces
ricotta, 100g / 3.5 ounces
(I sprinkled just 1/4 of the pizza with ricotta)
Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil, sprinkle with oregano and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Grill in the oven until golden brown and soft and cut in long strips.
Set your oven to 260°C / 500°F. My oven has a special pizza setting but you can use top / bottom heat as well. Put the baking sheet on the bottom of your oven to heat it.
Take the hot baking sheet out of the oven, flip it over and place it carefully on two stable wooden boards or mats as it will be very hot. Place your risen dough carefully but quickly (best done by two people) on the baking sheet, push it gently into place if necessary. Spread the tomato sauce on top and sprinkle with oregano, continue with the aubergine, Pecorino, mozzarella and ricotta. Put the baking sheet back into the oven, on the bottom again, and bake for a few minutes until the pizza is golden brown, bubbling and crisp!