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What makes the perfect pizza?

Thursday, 15th August, 2019 8:52am

Pizza – who doesn’t love a good pizza? Over the last few years, I have built a theory of what makes a good pizza.

First, there is the base – having started life as flatbread, the base is of utter importance. Thin, crispy and fully baked (trust me, fully baked is not always a given) is for me a better choice than the thick one (personal choice, so don’t kill me).

Next is the tomato sauce. It should taste of tomato (you would think that’s the way it always is but you would be surprised) and have a nice kick to it from garlic, chilli and herbs.

Don’t be too skimpy on the sauce and spread it nicely to the edge of the base (not to worry, it won’t fall off) but don’t drown the base in the sauce.

Let’s not forget about the cheese. When making pizza at home, you might go and buy the soft mozzarella in the bags with the salt brine. There is nothing wrong with it, just drain it properly, otherwise you will have watery pool on your pizza.

When getting pizza from a takeaway or restaurant, you won’t get that cheese but a hard version of it. It is cheaper, easier to grate and melts better to cover your pizza. There is nothing wrong with the ‘pizza cheese’ as it is being created just for the purpose of melting perfectly for the perfect pizza.

So, this is how every pizza should start its life. Now to the toppings: please keep in mind that this is a pizza and not a pie – less is sometimes more and definitely in this case.

My personal favourite is pepperoni and being a creature of habit, that’s the one I always go for.

These days, gourmet pizzas are gaining in popularity and you can get duck, pear and hoisin sauce (in Killybegs) or brie, courgette and caramelized onions (Limerick).

The Rising Son’s Brewery Pub let’s even their staff create a pizza of the week with toppings like black pudding, sausages, rashers and egg (for real).

I have seen people empty a fridge onto a pizza and it had me shivering in my boots!

To cook/bake the perfect pizza, the heat needs to be high and furious – the dough will blister and char a bit, just like it is meant to be.

‘Hipster’ pizza places are offering now sourdough pizza and when done right, adds a nice flavour note.

In the last few years, it has become custom to top a pizza with a mountain of rocket – no idea why. Firstly, rocket is not my favourite leaf due to its ‘pepperness’ but if I wanted a salad, would I not order one?

And don’t get me started on the Hawaiian – the concoction of pineapple and ham. Whoever thought that’s a great idea? Mr T is grateful for the first person who thought it up and is genuinely disappointed when a restaurant doesn’t have it on the menu.

Over the years, I have tried to create the perfect base (I got close but not yet).

Getting tips from bakers, Italians and chefs, I mix semolina/polenta with the flour (I use strong flour but must try the 00 version), use dried yeast and add olive oil.

Someone told me that he uses beer yeast rather than baking yeast – this is my next trial, so watch this space for results!

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