sharing recipes from one generation to the next
Elizabeth David writes scathing observations about English pizza in the introductory pages of the section dedicated to Pizza and Pissaladiere in her erudite tome “English Bread and Yeast Cookery,” this month’s book of choice for The Cookbook Guru. She was writing in the 1970s, at the same time as pizza was making a hesitating entry into the London food scene. She tells us through publicity clips that pizza quickly gained popularity before it’s reputation was subsumed by poor quality, cheap fast food outlets.
Quoting references dating back to Roman times, David finds similarities between pizza and foods in other Mediterranean cultures that make use of scraps of leavened dough, long before the tomato was introduced into Europe. She goes to great lengths to explain that simple toppings baked onto a yeast leavened crust make the best pizza, cooked tomato, cooked onion, anchovies and olives. She scorns the addition of bacon, mushroom, prawns or cheese.
Recipes for pizza dough enriched with egg are included in the book, but in the tradition of using dough scraps I have made pizza dough using my needy sourdough starter.
As a guide, to make 2x30cm round pizzas
300g active sourdough starter
300g unbleached white spelt flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Approx 150ml tepid water
Weigh your sourdough starter into a bowl then add the oil and salt.
Add the equivalent weight in spelt flour then add the water a small amount at a time until you have a firm but pliable dough.
Set the rough dough aside to rest for 20 minutes, loosely covered with a clean tea towel.
Tip the dough onto the floured bench and lightly knead until it feels smooth and pliable.
Wash out the mixing bowl, lightly oil the surface and return the dough to the oily bowl.
Turn the dough over on the oiled surface to coat, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
I use my oven with the light turned on.
Tip the dough out onto the floured bench again, knead lightly, then divide the dough in half.
Roll each piece of dough into a 30cm circle and set aside on a piece of baking parchment to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven and pizza stone to 200C fan forced while the dough rests.
Par bake the pizza bases until the dough is cooked, but do not allow it to brown, 5-7 minutes
Reduce the oven temperature to 180C.
When the pizza bases have cooled a little, spread with your topping of choice.
Return the pizzas to the oven for 10 minutes to cook the toppings onto the base and brown.
I used my homemade tomato passata, kalamata olives, dried oregano, and contrary to Elizabeth David’s recommendation, delicious locally made fiore di latte.
You can easily vary the size of the pizzas you make. From the rolled dough you can cut bite sized pieces to serve as party finger food, or alternatively create personalized pizza sizes to suit your family’s appetite. Once par baked, these bases will store well in the fridge for a couple of days or freeze until needed.
Thanks to Leah for hosting the Cookbook Guru. Click on the link to see what other food bloggers are making from Elizabeth David’s “English Bread and Yeast Cookery.” Better still, why not join in?
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After seeing this, I need a homemade pizza for lunch! Looks amazing.
Thanks it was a fine pizza!
Reblogged this on The Cookbook Guru and commented:
This is a definate must try for all the sourdough bakers out there… a spelt sourdough twist on a delicous favourite, pizza from Please Pass The Recipe.
I agree that simplicity is best with pizza toppings. Another reminder to have a go with sour dough.
That little sourdough starter, you give it life, it demands to be fed….it’s kitchen alchemy at the most compelling!
WOW, this pizza looks amazing! Will reblog for you this weekend xxx
Nice one Sandra, Did you ring Kakulas Sister or would you like me to? I am in Perth now.
Hi Glenda, thanks, could you call them? I think of it each morning our 9am ish then get on with the day and it slips my mind. Just curious as to the source of their flour. I did look at the Kukulas sisters website, no online shop, but many mills ship directly. I really appreciate your offer to help me with this. Sandra
She was certainly a ‘woman of opinion’. This looks great, I make spelt pizza but love the idea of a sourdough starter, will add the ‘to do’ list. (Got to say, love cheese on pizza…sorry Ms David!)
Excellent! I also noticed the odd inclusion of French/Italian recipes in her book on traditional English breads. I love your alteration using your sourdough starter. I’ve just created my own starter, so will have a go at this.
Me thinks Ms David was a very opiniated woman! Making pizza dough with egg included just didn’t seem quite right somehow and I’m not sure any self respecting Neopolitan would ever added egg. This works brilliantly!
Yes, you are right. She was opinionated. I think it is one of those upper class characteristics that is hard to dispel even when aspiring to a bohemian lifestyle.