you don’t have to own a wood-fired oven to make perfect pizza at home
[$5 dinners]

potato & rosemary pizzapotato & rosemary pizza
salami & ricotta pizzasalami & ricotta pizza
potato & rosemary pizzapotato & rosemary pizza
salami & ricotta pizzabreadflour

Thin. Crisp. Pizza.

It’s hard to go past a perfect Napoli-style pizza for a casual dinner. Throw in a salad or two and a few Peronis or an inexpensive bottle of Chianti and we’re talking a perfect night out.

For years I relegated pizza to one of those food types that is best left to the professionals. After many dismal attempts at home-pizza making, I had concluded that unless one invested in a fancy wood-fired oven, pizza at home was always going to be a disappointment.

Last year, when I started spending more time in the country at my Irishman’s place, we were missing our favourite Sydney pizzeria. And since there just wasn’t a local alternative, we decided to see if we could find a way to make decent pizza at home.

Over many a Friday night pizza session we had some wins and some dismal failures.

The good news is, with a little help from Jamie O, we managed to find pizza nirvana at home. With just a regular fan-forced electric oven, a $15 pizza stone and some creativity, pizza night in the country is now something to get excited about.

5 tips for pizza perfection

1. use good quality flour
With something as simple as pizza, your flour can really make a difference to the flavour and texture. Try to seek out some unbleached, stone-ground bread making flour if you can.

2. knead your dough
Kneading can be a pain, so I used to really skimp on this hands-on step. Then one day I made my dough and realised after I had kneaded it that I’d forgotten to add the yeast. Rather than throw it out and start again, I made a hole in the middle of my dough and kneaded it for ages to makes sure it was well distributed. And the result? The lightest, loveliest pizza base ever.

Since then I’ve made the extra effort to knead for at least 5 minutes but sometimes I can get in a rythmn and have a little ‘pizza meditation’ session for 10 minutes. Happy Jules. Happy pizza.

3. get your oven as hot as possible
After watching Heston Blumenthal visit a pizzeria in Naples to learn the secrets to pizza perfection, there’s no doubt that a super hot oven is half the battle. From memory the wood fired ovens were around 500C, far hotter than a standard home oven is capable of.

4. use a pizza stone on the floor of your oven
After experimenting with different oven positions and different surfaces to bake the pizza on, we’ve concluded (very scientifically, that the best way to get as much heat as possible into your dough (and therefore get the best pizza possible) is to place a pizza stone on the floor of the oven and allow it to preheat on the highest setting for at least 30 minutes.

This way the heat from the bottom element in the oven is directly transferred to the pizza stone. Simple and effective.

5. be sparing with your toppings
My favourite Sydney pizzeria is accredited by the Vera Pizza organisation from Naples and one of the things I love is the simplicity of their toppings. It can be easy to try too many different elements and add too much of them. Less is more applies to pizza too.

salami & ricotta pizza
pizza10
potato & rosemary pizza
potato & rosemary pizza recipe
pizza dough recipe

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video version of the pizza recipe


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salami & ricotta pizza recipe
makes 1 medium pizza

1/2 quantity of pizza dough (recipe below)
approx 6 slices salami
6 tablespoons ricotta
bocconcini, optional
1. Prepare oven and dough as per pizza base recipe.
2. Tear ricotta into chunks and scatter over the base. Repeat with the bocconcini, if using. Finish with the salami.
3. Bake for 5 – 10 minutes or until the base is golden and the potato is just cooked. Serve hot.

potato & rosemary pizza recipe
makes 1 medium pizza

1/2 quantity of pizza dough (recipe below)
1 large potato, finely sliced
1 small sprig rosemary
pinch chilli flakes, optional
1. Prepare oven and dough as per pizza base recipe.
2. Toss potato slices in a few tablespoons of olive oil with rosemary and chilli, if using. Season generously.
3. Arrange potato slices over pizza base. Top with cheese, if using.
4. Bake for 5 – 10 minutes or until the base is golden and the potato is just cooked. Serve hot.
bocconcini, optional

pizza dough recipe
makes 2 medium pizzas

250g (8.8oz) bread flour
160g (5.6) water
1 teaspoon dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
semolina, optional
1. Place a pizza stone on the base (floor) of your oven and preheat it on its highest setting.
2. Combine flour, water, yeast and salt in a bowl until the mixture comes together.
3. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for at least 5 minutes, preferably 10. Try to add as little flour as possible.
4. Lightly oil a bowl and pop the dough back in. Cover and stand for at least 1/2 hour but preferably an hour.
5. Divide dough into 2 and roll out on a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin until the pizza is about 25cm (12in diameter).
6. Scatter a pizza peel or baking tray with semolina, if using and top with your chosen ingredients.

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