Friday, 19 January 2007

My first proper Pizza

For some reason unknown to me, it is very hard to find a well-prepared pizza in Sydney. Despite the huge number of Italian immigrants I have never eaten any pizza that tasted like the ones I had in Italy. There, the crust is unbelievably thin, rather pale, and a little bit charred on the bottom. Here, the crust is crispy but of a more bread-like colour and consistency. There, the toppings are rather sparse and thinly sliced so you can taste every single ingredient. Here, at least ten different toppings seem to be a “must-have”. Everything is cut into tiny pieces and thoroughly mixed together so you can hardly identify if you got your “Corsica” or the “Mediterranean Surprise” of your neighbour.

I do have to admit that you can find some interesting combinations on Australian menus. Using pumpkin, goat’s cheese or potatoes definitely broadens a traditional pizza lover’s horizon. However, some of those adaptations are a bit over the top – “Tandoori Chicken Pizza” or “Meat Lover’s Delight” with bacon and barbeque sauce, anyone?

To top it off, pizza in Sydney or Australia in general is a rather pricey delight compared to the excellent Asian food you can get here for little money. Therefore, it was only a matter of time to make my own pizza.

After searching through my favourite food blogs, it became pretty clear that Peter Reinhart’s Napoletana pizza dough was the way to go. I used the recipe and instructions provided on ChubbyHubby which were pretty easy to follow. My little hand mixer squealed heart-rendingly while mixing the first batch of dough – not for the first time I was longing for my old but strong Krups mixer back home in Germany. The second batch was kneaded by my bread baking machine which worked just fine. After a night’s rest in the fridge, the dough was a pleasure to work with. Stretchy yet firm, it was really easy to shape it into thin rounds.

The toppings: homemade tomato sauce, shredded tasty cheese, shredded mozzarella, ham, salami, fresh tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, capers, grilled eggplants, grilled and skinned capsicum which proved to be the favourite amongst my fellow pizza eaters. They fully approved of my first attempt in making proper pizza – mostly due to the generosity of my dear friend Nora. When I invited her for the pizza night, she said she’d like to give me a pizza stone as sort of a late Christmas present. Any serious pizza lover should have one. That’s what she told me – and she was so right! Even the male guests had to admit the superiority of the stone. Being engineers they first doubted its usefulness. Pretending it was only another gadget girls "had to have". But a quick check with wikipedia revealed everything you need to know about pizza, pizza stones, and the like.

The few pizzas I baked on a regular baking sheet (after all, there were nine hungry people to feed) were not too bad but definitely not as crispy as the ones baked on the stone. However, it was a bit tricky to lift the prepared pizza on the stone and into the oven (I got a few minor burns). Polenta was very helpful to prevent sticking; and those little yellow kernels provided an extra crunch to the crust. The oven was heated to maximum which sometimes seemed to be a bit too much as you can see on the picture. But I didn't get any complaints and my guinea pigs encouraged me to continue my search for the perfect Italian pizza. With my own pizza stone it will be only a matter of time – thank you, Nora!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lucky me - to have a friend who can make such delicious pizzas and to think it was your first attempt at making a "proper" pizza. I'm glad that the pizza stone worked out well, especially since it came highly recommended by the lady at the shop. Sorry that you got the scars though! That's when the boyfriend is supposed to come to the rescue :-) - Nora