For the Dough
8 cups (1kg) ‘00’ flour strong Canadian bread flour with a high gluten content
3/4 tsp (2g) fresh baker’s yeast
2 1/2 cups (600ml) cold water
1 3/4 tbsp (30g) table salt
For the Toppings
1 tin of San Marzano (or any good-quality Italian) tomatoes
A good pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
A handful of basil leaves
5.3oz (150g) fior di latte cheese (cow’s milk mozzarella), torn into small pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
Preparing the Dough
1. Tip the flour onto your work service and make a well in the centre. Dissolve your yeast in the water and pour into the middle of the well a little at a time whilst using your fingers to bring the edge of the well into the water, so that the water begins to thicken. Once you’ve reached the consistency of custard, add the salt and bring in the rest of the flour until it comes together as a dough. Knead for 10–15 minutes.
2. Cover and leave to rest for 10 minutes before kneading again quickly for 10 seconds (this helps to develop the flavour and the gluten).
3. Divide the dough into 200g balls and leave to rest overnight or for at least 8 hours (24 hours is optimal, 48 hours maximum) in a sealed container or a deep baking dish sprinkled with flour and covered in cling film. Remember to leave space for each of your dough balls because, as the gluten relaxes, they will spread out to take up twice the diameter that they do initially.
Preparing the Pizza Base
1. Scrape a dough ball out of its container using a spatula and as much flour as you need to ensure it doesn’t stick. The rounder the dough ball comes out, the rounder the final pizza base.
2. Put the dough ball onto a well-floured surface and using your fingertips, press out the dough ball firmly, starting at the centre and working out to the edge. Ensure you leave a centimetre around the rim of the pizza untouched.
3. Turn the dough ball over and repeat the pressing out process on the other side.
4. Using the palm of your hand, do one firm push in the centre of the dough ball to ensure the thickness of the base is consistent (not counting the raised edges).
5. Take the newly flattened dough ball on the back of your hands, ensuring the weight is on your knuckles and that your fingertips and nails are not going to poke a hole in the dough.
6. Using the back of your hands, stretch the dough out as far as you can without tearing it. Turn the dough through 90 degrees and repeat this stretching. Do this a few times.
7. You should now have a disc of dough around 10 inches in diameter, consistently thin but with a slightly thicker rim, which is ready to cook.
Cooking the Pizza
1. Take the dough balls and press them out flat to make four 10 inch pizza bases using the tips of your fingers.
2. To make the tomato sauce, first crush the tomatoes by hand. This stops the seeds being whizzed up by the blender, which makes the sauce bitter. Add a large pinch of salt, then blitz with a hand blender until you have a tomato sauce with a slightly rough texture.
3. Preheat the grill to its absolute highest setting.
4. Lay a pizza base flat in a dry frying pan (preferably non-stick) that has been on a high heat and is very hot.
5. Spread a thin layer of sauce with a ladle across the base, leaving a couple of centimetres round the edge for the crust. Add a pinch of Parmesan, basil leaves and a quarter of the mozzarella, in that order. Drizzle with olive oil.
6. Once the base of the pizza has browned (about 1–2 minutes), take the frying pan and place it on the highest shelf, under the grill.
7. Once the crust has taken on some colour (again about 1–2 minutes), the pizza is ready to serve and enjoy.
8. Start making the next one…