Festival of the Pizza

October is Pizza month, so in addition to my usual Eat the World blogs I have launched Festival of the Pizza! The bulky pizza menu was originally going to take place over the Grand Final weekend, but I decided to spread the love and make a new style of pizza every weekend for five weeks instead. In my research, I was pleased to find there are some great differences, not only throughout Italy, but across the globe.

Each weekend brings a pizza contribution from one of five countries…

Week 1 – Italian style – 2 October 2015

FOTP 1 - Italy

A popular contemporary legend holds that the archetypal pizza, Pizza Margherita, was invented in 1889, when the Royal Palace of Capodimonte commissioned the Neapolitan pizzaiolo (pizza maker) Raffaele Esposito to create a pizza in honor of the visiting Queen Margherita. Of the three different pizzas he created, the Queen strongly preferred a pie swathed in the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato), green (basil), and white (mozzarella). Supposedly, this kind of pizza was then named after the Queen as “Pizza Margherita”, although recent research casts doubt on this legend.

Ingredients (base)
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 tbs olive oil
• 1 cup lukewarm water
• 7 gm packet dry yeast
• 3 cups flour

Method (base)
1. Combine water, yeast and salt in a bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place until it has gone frothy (15 minutes).
2. Add flour to yeast mix 1 cup at a time. Mix well, then kneed on a floured surface for 10 minutes so the dough is nice and flexible.
3. Return dough to an oiled bowl, cover and store in a warm place for an hour to rise.

Ingredients (sauce)
• 250 gm ripe tomatoes
• 2 cloves garlic, sliced
• ½ tsp sugar
• 1 tsp oregano
• 1 tbs olive oil
• Salt and pepper

Method (sauce)
1. Peel and de-seed tomatoes, remove excess liquid, chop fine.
2. Fry the garlic in oil until golden.
3. Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt & pepper to taste. Cook to reduce, but stir carefully so your tomatoes retain chunky texture.

Ingredients – Topping (quantities as desired)
• Uncooked prawns
• Chilli flakes
• Shredded mozzarella
• Basil leaves

1. Preheat oven to 250C, put pizza stone 10 minutes ahead of cooking.
2. Once risen, divide dough as required.
3. Stretch out dough a little, then use fists under the dough to stretch it out and be all fancy spinning in the air (or you can roll it out).
4. Top with tomato sauce, uncooked prawns and shredded mozzarella and sprinkle chilli flakes and cook for 8 minutes.
5. Place fresh basil leaves on top, slice and serve

Week 2 – Chicago style – Deep-dish – 10 October 2015


Deep-dish pizza is the most famous variety of Chicago-style pizza and is the USA representative for FOTP. Cooked in a deep pan to create a high walled base, this is a thick, chunky take on the Italian classic. Traditionally this is made with a tomato sauce and baked to a pie consistency: an inch high and it can still be sliced without slopping everywhere!

First make the base (it takes an hour to rise):

Ingredients (base)
• 100 ml lukewarm water
• 1 tsp dried yeast
• 1 teaspoon caster sugar
• 1 cup plain flour
• 1 tsp salt
• ¼ cup olive oil

Method (base)
1. Add yeast and sugar to water. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place until it has gone frothy (15 minutes).
2. Sift flour into a bowl with salt. Create a well and pour in the yeast mix and oil. Mix well, then kneed on a floured surface for 5 minutes so the dough is nice and flexible (this one is quite stick so you will need a bit of extra flour to keep things clean).
3. Return dough to an oiled bowl, cover and store in a warm place for an hour to rise.

The tomato sauce is extremely important for this dish. It makes up most of the pizza, so it needs to have an amazing taste; but it also needs to be thick enough to not slop everywhere post bake. I used the following sauce and it worked a treat:

Ingredients (sauce)
• 1 red onion, chopped
• ½ bulb fennel, chopped
• 1 long red chilli, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped
• ¼ cup red wine
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 bottle of passata
• 1 tin of tomatoes
• 1 tbs tomato paste
• 4 tomatoes, chopped
• Salt & pepper

Method (sauce)
1. Blitz onion, fennel, chilli and garlic to a paste.
2. Heat oil in a pan over high heat and fry paste for 5 minutes.
3. Add wine and reduce a little.
4. Add bay leaves, passata, tinned tomatoes and tomato paste.
5. Cook on a medium heat for 1 hour.
6. Meantime, roast chopped tomatoes on 180C for 20-25 minutes. These should then be added to the sauce about 10 minutes before finishing.
7. Season sauce as needed.
8. Allow sauce to cool.

And now to assemble the deep dish pizza…

• Base, as above
• Tomato sauce, as above
• Chorizo sausage (or Italian sausage), sliced and fried
• Mozzarella cheese, sliced (enough to cover the base – thickness to liking)
• ½ pecorino cheese

1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. Knead out the base (it will be quite elastic so be careful).
3. Line your pan with the dough, bringing it up the sides about 5 cm (you’re supposed to use a case iron pan, but I didn’t have one and instead used a 22 cm spring form tin).
4. Place slices of mozzarella to cover the base.
5. Sprinkle over half the pecorino.
6. Top cheese with sausage pieces.
7. Fill entire dough casing with tomato sauce.
8. Sprinkle remaining pecorino over the top of the sauce.
9. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes.
10. Leave in pan for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.

Week 3 – Turkish style – Pide – 17 October 2015

FOTP 3 - Turkey

The Turkish have their own answer to pizza in pide, a traditional and staple dish consisting of topping, often meat, atop a kind of dough-boat. It varies from its pizza cousins around the world in its shape, doughier base and greater volume of toppings. Pide is a cheap and cheerful meal, made throughout the day.

Ingredients (makes four Pide bases)
• 2 tsp dried yeast
• 1 tsp sugar
• 150 ml water or milk
• 300 gm flour
• 1 tsp salt
• 2.5 tbs olive oil

1. Warm the milk (lukewarm) & add the yeast and sugar. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place until it has gone frothy (15 minutes).
2. Sift flour into a bowl with salt. Create a well and pour in the yeasty milk and oil. Mix well, then kneed on a floured surface for 5 minutes so the dough is nice and flexible.
3. Return dough to an oiled bowl, cover and store in a warm place for an hour to rise.
4. Preheat oven to 250C (you want it really hot), put pizza stone 10 minutes ahead of cooking.
5. Once risen, return the dough to your surface and knead out any air.
6. Cut dough into four portions and knead each very well, shaping into an elongated football shape (with pointy ends).
7. Top the pide with your preferred toppings, then crimp the edges up around it all (it should look like a boat). Brush with olive oil, transfer to stone in oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until dough is cooked through and golden.

The filling. I’m going to avoid cheese because there’s enough of that in other varieties through FOTP. There are plenty of very meaty varieties in Turkey so here’s one that celebrates lamb and spices:

Ingredients (topping)
• 2 tbs olive oil
• 1 brown onion, finely diced
• 2 cloves of minced garlic
• 100 gm lamb mince
• 150 gm diced lamb
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp sweet paprika
• 1 tsp sumac
• 150 ml red wine
• 2 tbs chopped parsley

Method (topping)
1. Add oil over medium heat, brown lamb pieces and remove.
2. Add onions and cook – 5 minutes
3. Add garlic – 1 minute
4. Add all spices – 1 minute
5. Add mince and cook through, then add cooked lamb.
6. Pour over wine, add a little more (or water) to cover the meat.
7. Cover the dish and cook for at least an hour – the lamb pieces should be quite tender.
8. When cooked, mixed through chopped parsley.

When using on the dough, if the topping has not dried/thickened enough, you should decant excess liquid before baking (or it’ll be quite soggy).

Week 4 – German style – Flammkuchen – 24 October 2015

FOTP 3 - Germany

Flammkuchen represents Germany’s contribution for FOTP. Translating directly to “flame cake”, it consists of an uber-thin, rectangular bread base (that will “snap” when cooked) and typically covered in either cheese or crème fraiche, onion slices and lardons or bacon pieces. Other varieties include gruyere, mushroom or munster highlights.

• 200 gm ‘00’ flour (you can use normal flour, but ‘00’ will make it super easy to get thin)
• 2 tbs oil
• 125 ml water
• 1 pinch salt
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 200 gm creme fraiche (or sour cream)
• 200 gm onions, sliced
• 100 gm bacon, sliced thin
• Salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to the highest temperature possible.
2. Mix flour, oil, water and salt to make a dough and knead it until it is no longer sticky.
3. Roll dough into a large rectangle as thin as possible.
4. Melt butter in a pan and soften onions – 2 minutes.
5. Add bacon and heat through – 2 minutes.
6. Spread crème fraiche on top of base, then scatter onions and bacon.
7. Season with salt & pepper.
8. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until base is completely cooked and crispy.

Week 5 – Argentinian style – Fugazzeta – 31 October 2015

FOTP 5 Argentina

Argentina’s population is half Italian, so you’d very much expect them to have a contribution to the world of pizza. The fugazzeta is such prize, taking its name from the Italian focaccia, but its style elsewhere. With a breadier base, this style consists of a lot of cheese and a lot of onion. Basic, but unique.

• 7 gm sachet dried yeast
• 125 ml (½ cup) lukewarm water
• 225 gm (1½ cups) baker’s flour
• 80 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil, plus extra, to grease
• 600 gm (about 3 large) onions, thinly sliced
• 150 gm mozzarella, grated
• 150 gm provolone, grated
• 2 tsp dried oregano
• 12-15 olives, pitted

1. Combine yeast and 125 ml (½ cup) lukewarm water in a bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place until it has gone frothy (15 minutes).
2. Combine flour and ¼ tsp salt in a large bowl, stir to combine, then make a well in the centre. Pour yeast mixture and 2 tbsp oil into the well.
3. Gradually incorporate flour until dough comes together. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
4. Return dough to an oiled bowl, cover and store in a warm place for an hour to rise.
5. Heat remaining 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Cook onions, stirring, for 2 minutes or until just softened.
6. Season with salt, transfer to a bowl and cool completely.
7. Preheat oven to 250°C.
8. Lightly grease a 31 cm pizza pan, then gently and evenly stretch dough to cover the base, creating a higher ‘lip’ at the edge.
9. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap, then set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes to rest.
10. Combine cheeses in a bowl, then scatter over base.
11. Top with onions, sprinkle with oregano and scatter over olives.
12. Bake for 20 minutes or until base is golden and cooked through, and cheese is melted.


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