Sicilian Spring Pizza (getting over my deep-pan phobia)




I would guess that the majority of the pizza I have eaten over my lifetime has been shop bought. Probably somewhere in the region of 90% I would guess. This is partly due to several factors: never really trying to make my own, rarely ordering pizza in restaurants and only really starting to use take away pizza places in the last 5 years or so.

Another factor is that by and large, supermarket pizzas are actually pretty good. I suppose it's another one of these food groups that are just so simple - meat, cheese and tomato - that makes them a pretty safe bet. With the exception of the dough, the components are incredibly simple - cheese, tomato sauce and any toppings you fancy - even just a handful of pepperoni can be trans-formative. And even if the dough is a trickier component to master, if it is good enough to deliver the pizza toppings to your mouth, without distracting, then that can often be good enough (don't get me wrong, the base can, and should be, a great thing, but I'm  just saying that a sub-par base can still deliver an enjoyable pizza experience).

As if to prove this point, I present toast pizza (my lunch today):
 (regular sliced bread, left over pizza tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni)


A part of this pizza-eating-ratio's legacy is my dislike for deep-pan pizza. Much like the NY style pizzas I have written about before, I favour thin, crispy bases - and I think the reason for this is that historically, supermarket bought deep pan pizzas have been a bit of a let down (maybe this has changed, but I'm not going out and buying one to find out!).  And they have been let down because of the base - the mass produced, frozen deep pan pizzas never seemed to have good dough. They were just a stodgy, thick bread-y mess, that failed my most basic of requirements: deliver the toppings without distraction. On more than one occasion, I remember resorting to cutting the bottom of the base off rather than chew through the stodgy and bland underneath.


Anyways, that's a pretty long winded way to say I don't really eat deep-pan pizzas.

However, last week, Kenji Lopez-Alt (The Foodlab) tweeted a recipe for his Sicilian pizza, which made me think its probably about time for me to re-think my phobia. As if further encouragement was needed, in the article he also mentions that his goal in the recipe is re-creating Prince street Pizza's Spicy Spring (apparently the best slice in NY, which I experienced earlier in the year) - which was a delicious, deeper square slice of pepperoni pizza, where the base was, as you might guess, soft, springy and delicious - to the point of being good enough to eat on its own.


And to be frank, the mans a genius. I adapted the dough recipe for quantity/ingredients I had and went with my normal sauce recipe, but it turned out great. Light, springy and tasty in its own right, sitting beautifully with the thick tomato sauce, mozzarella and pepperoni.  My wife described it as the best pizza she'd ever had.


Ingredients: dough

  • 375 grams of strong white flour (I only had about 200g of strong bread flour, so made it up with plain white flour)
  • 10 grams fine salt
  • 4.5 grams active dried yeast
  • 15 grams of oil, plus more for the pan
  • 245 grams of luke warm water - I go for around 110 degrees Fahrenheit 

Sauce

  • 1 tin of chopped tomatos
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick of celery

Toppings

  • dry aged mozzarella (not the wet stuff that comes packed in liquid) - Waitrose sells what they call "pizza mozzarella")
  • Other cheese, some cheddar, Parmesan, whatever you fancy
  • Pepperoni, anything else you fancy


Method

This is adapted from Kenji's recipe here - its probably far better to just follow his guide!
Pre-heat your oven as hot as it goes - My fan oven goes to 450 degrees, which was fine)
  1. About three to four hours before you plan to cook start the dough

  2. Put all the ingredients into a food processor with the blade attached - process for about 30 seconds, until the dough rides above the blade

  3. Pour a few glugs of olive oil into the baking tray. Be generous

  4. Tip the dough on to the tray, and cover it in the oil.

  5. Stretch it out into a rectangle type shape - don't worry about making it fit to the tray (this technique is far better explained by Kenji) and cover it in cling film and set aside

  6. Before you are ready to cook, make the tomato sauce.

  7. Melt the butter in a saucepan

  8. Peel the carrot and chop into f (cut in half length ways, then half again); squash the celery with the blade of a knife and cut into 4 large pieces

  9. Add the vegetables to the butter and cook for a minute or two and season

  10. Add the tomato puree, stir through and cook for a further minute

  11. Add the oregano, stir through and add the tinned tomatoes

  12. Cover the pan, leaving a crack (we want to reduce the sauce, so we want some moisture to escape, but tomato can really spit as it bubbles, so I use the lid to reduce the mess) and heat for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally

  13. Once cooked, remove the whole vegetable chunks and squash the chopped tomatoes (use a potato masher or back of a spoon)

  14. After three hours or so, uncover it and stretch it out to fill the pan

  15. Layer the dough with mozzarella, this will help prevent the dough getting soggy

  16. Next spoon on the tomato sauce, then top with your toppings (pepperoni, additional cheese etc)

  17. Put it in the oven for 12 minutes, the base of the pizza should be nicely browned

rob hinds Shambolically fumbling my way around the kitchen