1. The base
This is a touchy subject. The Romans will claim their thin-based style is the best, but it’s said that all pizza originates in Naples, so it makes sense to take your cue from the chef’s mouth, so to speak. Roman pizza is characterised by a thin, crispy base and is known as pizza basa, or “low pizza”, to differentiate from “pizza alta” or “high pizza”, which is used to describe Neapolitan pizza with its crispy base and puffy, chewy crust. Sicilian pizza is more like a deep-pan pizza with a thick crust and is traditionally served in squares. It’s essentially a focaccia and usually topped with cheese and tomato.
When making your base, use flour with a high protein content as this helps the dough to stretch; “00” flour is the gold standard, which means you’ll get the perfect combination of crispiness and chewiness. Ordinary cake flour works, too.
Scroll to the bottom of this article for our foolproof pizza base recipe, in step-by-step form.
2. The cheese
The cheese is almost 90% of the reason we eat pizza, so make it count. You’re looking for the subject of many an Instagram money shot, the cheese pull. Mozzarella is non-negotiable – use the best quality you can find, preferably the fresh version in brine. We also added Emmenthal to our cheese mix, which melts well and has a subtle flavour. Make it in a ratio of 75% mozzarella to 25% Emmenthal for best results. It’s easiest to make a large amount (1 kg) and keep it in the fridge or freezer for when you need it.
3. The sauce
Here’s a revelation: you don’t need to cook your pizza sauce. That intense flavour you get from cooking a sauce for lasagne or Bolognese won’t add much to a pizza because it cooks so quickly. Make like a pizza chef and use the best-quality tomatoes you can find (canned crushed tomatoes are fine), mix with olive oil, grate in two garlic cloves, season with salt and you’re good to go. If you like, you can let it chill in the fridge for a while, but you can also use it immediately. Our recipe uses 1 x 400 g can Italian tomatoes, blended.
Find the method to make Hannah’s pizza base below.
4. The bake
Our base has to cook as fast and as hot as possible for 2–5 minutes in a hot pizza oven. If you don’t have a pizza oven, cook the base in a hot cast-iron pan over a high heat on the stove, then flip over and top with your preferred toppings and finish off in the oven. Preheat the oven to its highest temperature, then turn on the grill just before baking the pizza for best results. Once you’ve put the sauce on the base, move quickly to get it into the oven – if it sits for too long, you risk sogginess, which nobody likes.
Ready to make your own pizza? Here are three pizzas to try:
Four-cheese, egg and herb pizza
Pineapple tray bake pizza
Salami, fennel and stracciatella pizza