There is nothing like good pizza. I find that the best ones tend to be the simplest, with not too many ingredients on top, and a good tomato passata as the base.
When making a pizza it’s important to be sure that it cooks from the bottom as well as on top. A hot pizza stone helps with this, or you can use a heated baking sheet. If you don’t do this you will have uncooked dough with a soggy base.
1. For stage 1 of the dough, put the flour and yeast into a large bowl and mix in the water. Leave in a warm place (35–40°C) for 15–20 minutes until frothy.
2. Add all the ingredients for stage 2 and mix together to a dough using a wooden spoon and then your hands. Turn out on to a floured surface and knead for 10–15 minutes to develop the elasticity of the dough.
3. Shape the dough into a ball and rub with olive oil to prevent a crust from forming. Place in a clean bowl, cover the bowl with a towel and leave the dough to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour until doubled in size.
4. Knock back the dough, then let it rise again for a further 40 minutes.
5. When you are ready to make the pizza, preheat the oven to 250°C, and put a pizza stone or a large baking sheet in to heat. Turn the dough on to a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a rough rectangle or other shape that is about 2cm thick. Lift on to a large, semolina-dusted baking sheet.
6. For the topping, spread the passata evenly over the pizza base to within 1cm of the edge. Add the remaining topping ingredients, scattering them evenly, then drizzle the olive oil over all.
7. Slide the pizza on to the hot baking stone or baking sheet in the oven and bake for 5–7 minutes. Serve hot.
This is an edited extract from My Simple Italian by Theo Randall (Ebury Press, £25).
Visit our Italian recipes section for more delicious recipes for pizza, pasta and more.