Homemade pizza: Tips from a Non Italian living in Spain

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A few years ago, my mom bought me a pizza cookbook. It is beautiful. It is in the shape of a pizza and the photography is perfect.

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Every pizza recipe is photographed.

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And even if you aren’t hungry, you still feel like sifting through it and learning about new toppings and combinations.
I used this book to learn how to make pizza dough. My husband, who never used to be wild about pizza, actually requests that I make it. I love doing it and truly, it is not a time consuming, laborious job.
Maybe you would like to have a go too! You can make any combinations you want. I tried black olives,  emmental cheese and bonito (a lot like tuna). Here are some instructions for delicious crust.
For medium crust:
15 g fresh yeast or 11/2 teaspoons dry yeast.
1 cup warm water
2 cups (300 grams) bread flour +extra for your work surface and hands.
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Put the yeast in a small bowl and add 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the warm water.
Mix gently until it is dissolved. Leave it to thicken for about ten minutes.

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2. Mix the flour and salt in a separate bowl. Pour in the yeast mixture and the rest of the warm water. Mix until you get a sticky mixture.

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3. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and put the dough on it. Knead for 10 minutes. When the dough begins to firm and stops sticking to the surface, stop kneading. Now pick it up with one hand and throw it on the surface. The dough will stretch. That is good. You are waking up the gluten! Do this several times. Just let the dough stretch as it lands on the surface and let the gluten get to work.

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It will quickly take shape. A bit sticky but don’t panic.

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4. Now lightly coat a large bowl with oil.
Put the ball in it, cover it with a towel and leave it for about an hour. Trust me, it rises.
*Before

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*After

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Isn’t it beautiful?

It will be a bit sticky. Don’t worry. Lightly coat your work surface with flour. Remove the ball and coat it in the flour. You can roll it around a bit.

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It helps.

5. I have a pizza pan. It is easy to use and I love it.

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If you don’t have one, you may consider it. Either way, take your pizza dough and begin to flatten it into a circular shape. Start in the middle and begin pushing towards the edges.

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6. Brush with your favourite sauce. I used a Julia Child sauce which is incredible. It is not Italian but every cook has the right to write his or her own rules in the kitchen! I am including the recipe below in case you are interested.

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7. Put your toppings and bake for 15 minutes or so. ( Depends on your toppings and your oven. Be vigilant).

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Ok, last but not least, here is the sauce recipe. It is wonderful. To save time, you can also buy plain tomato sauce and add the onions and seasonings. It still tastes great!
COULIS DE TOMATES À LA PROVENCALE [Fresh Tomato Purée with Garlic and Herbs]
For: broiled or boiled chicken, boiled beef, meat patties, hot meat leftovers, eggs, pastas, and pizzas
Here is a thick, concentrated tomato sauce with real Mediterranean flavor. For about 2 cups
A heavy-bottomed, 3-quart saucepan
⅓ cup finely minced yellow onions
2 Tb olive oil
Cook the onions and olive oil slowly together for about 10 minutes, until the onions are tender but not browned.
2 tsp flour
Stir in the flour and cook slowly for 3 minutes without browning.
3 lbs. ripe red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced, and chopped (about 4 ½ cups)
⅛ tsp sugar
2 cloves mashed garlic
A medium herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, ½ bay leaf, and ¼ tsp thyme tied in cheesecloth ⅛ tsp fennel ⅛ tsp basil Small pinch of saffron
Small pinch of coriander
A 1-inch piece (¼ tsp) dried orange peel ½ tsp salt
1 to 2 Tb tomato paste, if necessary
Salt and pepper
Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, garlic, herbs, and seasonings. Cover pan and cook slowly for 10 minutes, so the tomatoes will render more of their juice. Then uncover and simmer for about half an hour, adding spoonfuls of tomato juice or water if the sauce becomes so thick it risks scorching. The purée is done when it tastes thoroughly cooked and is thick enough to form a mass in the spoon. Remove herb bouquet. If necessary, stir in 1 or 2 tablespoons of tomato paste for color, and simmer 2 minutes. Correct seasoning. Strain the sauce if you wish. (*) May be refrigerated or frozen.

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Enjoy!xxxx Natascha