One of our many local Italian restaurants used to make an epic one of these which I absolutely loved adorned with a bit of spicy olive oil. Sadly, their Roman chef has moved on and it’s no longer on their menu. Consequently, I thought I’d have a go at making one during lockdown. Without a genuine wood-fired pizza oven, I knew it wouldn’t taste as good but, you know what, it wasn’t half bad!
1.Put the flour in a bowl and measure 360ml (1 1/12 cups) water into a jug. If you are using fresh yeast, dissolve it in 25ml (1 1/2 tbsp) of the measured water. Add the dissolved fresh yeast plus 300ml (1 1/4 cups) water – or 4g dried yeast plus 325ml (1 1/3 cups) water – to the flour. Using your fingers like a bread hook – that is, pointed and clenched together – stir for two minutes, then add 12g salt and the remaining water, and stir again for a minute.
2. Wash your hands. Add the olive oil to the dough and stir again, which will help create a soft, slightly sticky, putty-like dough that can be brought into a ball. Scoop out the dough, wash the bowl, rub the insides with oil and return the dough to the bowl. Cover with a cloth and leave to sit in warm spot for two hours, during which time it should almost double in size.
3. Oil your hands and scoop the dough on to a lightly oiled work surface. Cut it in half and, working delicately, lift up the edges of both halves so they look like neat little bags. Lift on to a board dusted with semolina floor, cover with cloth and set aside for another 30 minutes.
4. While the dough is rising, use your hands to crush the tomatoes, then add 2 tbsp olive oil and some salt, and stir. Taste and, if it seems too acidic, add a little sugar.
5. Heat the oven to its highest setting, 240C (220C fan)/475F/gas 9. Working on a board dusted with semolina flour, extend one piece of dough with your fingers until it is the size of a big plate. Lift it on to a 32 x32cm (2-13 “) baking tray, then use your fingertips to extend it to fill the whole tray. Dimple the dough gently all over with a spoon, then, using your fingertips, smear half the tomato sauce right to the edges, dimple again and zig-zag with oil.
6. Bake on the floor of the oven or on a baking stone, or as low in the oven as possible, for 12-15 minutes, until the the base is firm, the edges golden and the top blistered and ever so slightly singed. Pull the pizza from the oven, zig-zag with more olive or (better still) spicy oil and serve in slices. Repeat with second piece of dough alternatively freeze for later before step 5.
6. I’ll sometimes add dried oregano and black olives – sacrilege!