Pizza originated in Naples and started off as poor man’s street food in the 18th & 19th centuries as a plain flat bread gradually acquiring toppings such as tomatoes. In 1889, a famous Neapolitan pizza-maker, Raffaele Esposito, made a pizza for Queen Margherita using ingredients to match the colours of the Italian flag – tomato, basil and mozzarella – and as simple as that the Margherita pizza was born.
You can always make your own and this is my homemade version – I have given you the classic Margherita topping and also one with prosciutto. I like making small pizzette, which are about the size of a saucer, but you can make pizza whatever size you want.
The great thing about pizza is you can experiment with whatever toppings you like. If you can’t get fresh yeast, then you can make the dough with the dried variety, but check instructions on the packet.
Recipe makes 6 small pizzette or 2 large pizza
For the dough:
500g strong flour
10g fresh yeast
325ml lukewarm water
Topping for Margherita:
150g tinned chopped tomatoes or tomato passata
Salt & pepper
1 x tablespoons extra virgin olive oil & extra for drizzling
1 x tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1 x ball mozzarella
A few fresh basil leaves
Extra virgin oil for drizzling
1 x ball mozzarella
1 x tablespoon grated parmesan
4 x slices of Parma ham
(1). First make the dough. Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Gradually add the yeast mixture, mixing well until you obtain a dough. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Cover with a cloth or cling film and leave to rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes until the dough has doubled in size.
(2). Preheat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade.
(3). Take the dough, knock it back, then divide into 6 pieces, cover each with a cloth and leave to rest in a warm place for a further 30 minutes.
(4). Meanwhile prepare the toppings. Place tomatoes or passata in a small bowl, season with salt & pepper and stir in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Roughly chop the mozzarella.
(5). Sprinkle some flour onto a clean work surface and with your fingers spread each piece of dough into a roughly round shape with a border, make the dough as thin as you can but be careful not to tear it. Sprinkle some semolina or flour onto 2 large flat baking trays and place the pizza bases on them.
(6). Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over each base. Spread the tomato evenly over, sprinkle with parmesan, scatter a few basil leaves over and top with mozzarella.
(7). Place the pizzas into the hot oven and bake for 8 – 10 minutes.
(8). Remove the pizzas from the oven, top with Parma ham and serve immediately.