I have love hate relationship with pizzas. There are days I absolutely crave for a cheesy pizza and there are days when I cant even stand the name of pizza. So these days, when we crave for pizza, I just make it home rather than ordering it and waiting for it to be delivered home.
Sometime last year, there was a workshop on grilling and toasting in our office (now don’t ask me what that has to do with software engineering 😀 ) and a good chef taught us a few tricks to make a fail proof pizza at home. Ever since I started following the recipe, we have absolutely divine tasting pizzas at home. The best part about making pizza at home is that you can turn it into thin crust. There are times, when I have to bite around the edges of Pizza Hut’s pizza like a chipmunk as the edges are quite rough and chewy. I can totally avoid that with my home made pizza. The pizza that I make turns crisp at the bottom and soft on the top – that way being perfect for us. This recipe is more of a reference to the techniques I learnt and follow, to make a perfect pizza.
The history of Margherita Pizza is quite interesting and I am amazed by the simplicity of this pizza – be it the ingredients or the making. Last week, when we had some fresh basil leaves (from our small kitchen garden), I was super excited to try this pizza out. There are a few modifications that I did to my usual pizza sauce recipe – I didn’t add onions as I wanted tomato flavor to come out. I didn’t have cherry tomatoes or sun dried ones, I ended up using normal tomatoes. Instead of adding grated cheese, I add small chunks of mozzarella and loved having small pools of bubbly cheese on the pizza 😀 I resorted to adding the fresh basil leaves after the pizza was baked, to have the freshness intact. This pizza was a huge hit at home 🙂
To make Thin Crust Margherita Pizza
What I used –
For the Pizza Dough
- All Purpose Flour/Maida, 1.5 cups + 2 tbsp
- Active Dry Yeast, 1.5 tsp
- Warm Water, ½ cup (or less)
- Sugar, 1 tsp
- Salt, as required
- Olive Oil, 1 tsp
For the Pizza Sauce
- Finely Chopped Garlic, 1 tsp
- Tomato Puree, ½ cup
- Salt, as required
- Sugar, a generous pinch
- Olive Oil, 1 tsp
- Chilli Flakes, ½ tsp
- Dried Italian Herbs, ½ tsp
For the Pizza Topping
- Sliced Cherry Tomatoes/Tomatoes, a required
- Mozzarella Cheese, as required
- Fresh Basil Leaves, a handful
- Olive Oil, 1 -2 tsp
How I made it –
1. In a bowl with warm water, add the active dry yeast and sugar. Mix well until the yeast is dissolved fully. Let it sit for 5-10 mins. The yeast would turn frothy/milky in consistency. This means that the yeast is active and would work.
2. In a bowl, add the all-purpose flour, salt and the frothy yeast mixture. Bring everything together. Knead for 1-2 mins until the dough is smooth. Apply few drops of olive oil on the dough. Place it in a greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and set it to proof in a warm place for atleast one hour. I keep it in my warm oven for kitchen is always cool.
3. Meanwhile, to prepare the pizza sauce – heat oil in a pan. Add finely chopped garlic and fry for 20 secs. Add tomato puree, salt and sugar. Let it cook for 3-4 mins. Add the chilli flakes and dried Italian herbs. When the sauce looks thickened enough, remove it from flame. Set aside.
4. Chop the mozzarella cheese into small chunks and cut the cherry tomatoes in half. If using normal tomatoes, cut them into thin slices and remove off any pulp so as to not make the pizza soggy.
5. Preheat the oven at 180deg C for ten mins. The pizza dough would have proofed and would be double the size by the resting period. Take a square of aluminum foil. Apply it with few drops of olive oil. Dust it generously with some all-purpose flour. Make equal sized balls of four with the risen dough. Take a ball and press it against the floured foil. Using your fingers, spread it to form a thin roundel. The thickness can be as per your liking. Apply few drops of olive oil on the top of hand tossed pizza.
6. Apply a teaspoon of the pizza sauce leaving ½ a centimeter gap at the edges. Place the slices of tomatoes and mozzarella cheese all over the pizza. Bake for 7-10mins at 170-180deg C until the bottom is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly on top. Once removed from the oven, place the fresh basil leaves all over the pizza.
6. Serve hot! 🙂
- The yeast has to turn frothy inorder for the dough to raise. The temperature of the water used to dissolve the yeast is very important. Too hot – yeast dies. Not so warm – yeats doesnt react. Sugar helps in activating the yeast and that’s why it has to be dissolved in the water.
- Do not bring oil or salt in close contact with yeast, affects the activation of yeast. Always let the yeast get active and add oil/salt to the all-purpose flour.
- The dough can be a bit sticky when it’s proofed and that’s why it has to be put in a greased bowl.
- Instead of making pizza sauce from scratch, store bought sauce can be used.
- While making the pizza sauce, adding a generous pinch of sugar cuts through the tanginess of the tomato puree.
- Never roll your pizza using a rolling pin, the quality is not the same. Press it gently with your fingers until you have the desired shape and thickness.
- Dusting the foil with oil and flour helps get the pizza a crispy bottom.
- Applying a coat of oil on top of the hand tossed pizza helps it from getting too soggy from the contact with tomato sauce and is highly recommended.
- The oven settings and timings can differ, always have a close eye on your pizza while baking.