ITALIAN PIZZA OR CIABATTA DOUGH
Although this is the least complicated of doughs, made with the most basic ingredients, many bread connoisseurs place the Italian recipe at the top of the list when it comes to sheer enjoyment of good plain bread.
- 1 x 25 g cube fresh yeast OR 1 x 10 g sachet instant yeast (I use the cube fresh yeast)
- 625 ml lukewarm water
- 30 ml olive or sunflower oil (I use light olive oil)
- 15 ml sugar
- 15 ml salt
- 420 g/750 ml cake flour
- ± 420 g/750 ml extra cake flour
If fresh yeast is used, crumble the yeast into a mixing bowl, add all the other ingredients except the extra cake flour and mix well. *I put everything into my Bosch mixer with the dough hook attached for blending. If instant yeast is used mix the contents of the sachet with the 750ml flour, add all the ingredients except for the extra flour and mix well.
Add sufficient of the extra flour to form a soft dough. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead well for about 6-8 minutes. *In the mixer I blended for about 5mins until quite smooth and elastic.
Flour the bowl (or just leave the dough in the mixer bowl) and put the dough back in bowl, sprinkle lightly with flour, cover and leave to rise in a mildly warm spot for about 30-40 minutes or until completely doubled in size. Knead down and shape as required.
You can make plain Italian loaves, olive or olive & herb bread, focaccia and pizza with this dough.
For the pizza I sprinkle semolina or dry mealie meel at the bottom of my pizza pans. Roll the dough out quite thin as I like a crispy base OR press the dough into a pizza plate or rectangular ovenproof dish that has been greased with margarine. Put your preferred tomato sauce (I like using a thick sauce of which most of the liquid has been cooked off so that my pizza does not go soggy) with herbs like dried mixed or Italian blend, garlic, pinch of sugar and salt. You can add onions to your sauce if preferred. Next you toppings go on. My motto with pizza is, LESS IS MORE. The more toppings you add, the better your change of a soggy base. Various cheeses can be added, I prefer just a sprinkling of strong mature cheddar mixed with a bit of grated mozzarella. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180°C for 20 – 25 min or shorter if your base is really thin and the pizza smaller. Serve hot from the oven.
Method for ciabatta:
After 3 days in plastic bag in fridge I cut the bag open and let the dough drip onto baking paper sprinkled liberally with flour. Shape gently as required as you don’t want to break the air bubbles inside. Sprinkle with flour over the top and leave another hour or two to get to room temperature and rise more. Then bake at 220°C for 15 mins then turn oven to 180°C and bake another 20 mins or till baked through and when knocking on top you can hear the hollow sound.
Photo’s and recipe: Elsabie Templeton