While they all loved L’Artiste’s pizza bread, it is not the same as a pizza. They begged him to come back the next day and run a pizza making workshop.
The first thing they learned is that people have different preferences when it comes to their pizza base. There is no right or wrong, just different likes. L’Artiste favours a thin and crunchy crust, as do most of the Dedes. If you like it more spongy, simply allow the dough to rise longer between kneading.
It takes L’Artiste exactly one hour from entering the kitchen to having the pizza on the table. So it’s not really a quick dinner, but time flies as the process is broken up into different tasks. He also considers pizza making a social event and loves having other people help chop up toppings while they chat away.
The dough is exactly the same as for the pizza bread yesterday, but because it is covered with juicy sauce and toppings it will need 20 minutes to bake. Once the pizza is in the oven there is plenty of time to clean the kitchen, throw together a nice side salad or simply have a glass of wine in anticipation. And when the kitchen is nice and tidy, the evening can begin!
Ingredients for one tray of pizza (two large or 4 small slices)
2 cups of flour, a scant teaspoon of dry yeast, 3/4 cup of warm water. Various toppings and grated cheese.
Put the flour in the bowl and add half of the water and the yeast. Now you can do other chores for 15 minutes while the yeast becomes active. When the yeast is foamy, mix it with the flour, add the rest of the water and knead to an elastic dough. Let it rest to rise.
Switch the oven on to 2000C and attend to the sauce that goes on top of the base. L’Artiste usually fries some diced onions in olive oil and adds a can of diced tomatoes (yes, a can! He read somewhere that canned tomatoes have more lycopene than fresh tomatoes, but watch out for the salt content of the canned ones!). Then he adds the mediterranean selection of herbs… rosmary, sage, oregano, thyme..
While the sauce reduces, he chops the toppings everyone wants, or else whatever he can find in the fridge (at least a red pepper, onions and garlic). If he has helpers he just supervises this task and someone has to grate the cheese. He prefers a combination of edam cheese and goat cheese. But either or will do, though the correct cheese topping for a pizza is mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella is hard to come by where the Dedes live. The wonderful thing about pizza is that anything goes. If you like it, put it on!
After the chopping and grating is done, knead the dough again, roll it out to its final size and place it on the baking tray dusted with flour. Pour the sauce on, spreading it around. Then distribute the various toppings. Lastly, put the cheese on top. If the pizza is shared, and it mostly is, L’Artiste adds what everyone wants to different sections (There is always someone who doesn’t like olives, while the next one doesn’t like salami). He then cuts the pizza before it goes in the oven, which makes it easier to divide up once it is baked.
Bake for 20 minutes at 2000C.