“I’ve never met a pizza I didn’t like – from stuffed crust takeaway abominations to the tiny frozen snack variety loved by students, I’ll eat them all. But nothing comes close to the simple perfection of a traditional Italian-style base topped with a thin layer of rich sauce and a little melted Mozzarella. I’ve experimented with dough for a while to find the perfect base and have come to realise that semolina flour is key to achieving the perfect crisp bottom and chewy, crunchy crust.
The bread is so good that it would be a crime to slather it in toppings. Instead, a simple selection of flavour-packed ingredients make sure that both top and base both share the limelight equally. You can use any good quality tomato sauce you like, but we recommended our veg-packed tomato sauce recipe. The combination of oregano, fresh marjoram and fennel seed is uplifting and packed with authentic Italian flavour, making it perfect to eat alfresco in the garden while the sun is still shining.”
Prep time: 20 minutes (plus 1 hour proving)
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: makes 4 medium sized pizzas
Ingredients – dough:
400g plain flour
100g semolina flour (plus more for dusting)
320ml lukewarm water
1/2 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Ingredients – topping:
Small bunch of marjoram leaves, chopped
1 tsp ground dried oregano
1/4 tsp fennel seed
12 tbsp tomatoes sauce (3 per pizza – we recommend using our tomato sauce recipe here)
Method – dough:
Pour the flours and salt into a mixing bowl and mix together. In a measuring jug, add the yeast, oil and sugar to the water and stir. Cover the jug with a damp tea towel and leave for 5-10 minutes until the yeast has begun to bubble and foam.
If kneading by hand, make a well in the flour and pour in the liquid. Gradually stir the liquid into the flour with a fork until you have a rough dough. Tip out onto a flour dusted work surface and knead for five minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
If kneading in a mixer, simply pour the liquid into the flour and knead with a dough hook on a medium speed for 10 minutes.
Place the kneaded dough into a dial with a little semolina flour and the bottom to stop it from sticking. Cover and leave somewhere warm to prove for around 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Method – toppings:
To make the herby sausage topping, take 2 sausages and squeeze the filling from the casings into a bowl. Add 1 tbsp of oil to a frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the fennel seed. Heat the seeds for around a minute before adding the sausage. Fry for around 3 minutes until the sausage meat begins to brown at the edges. Remove from the heat and set to one side.
Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan.
When the dough has finished proving, top it out onto a work surface that has been dusted with semolina flour and cut into 4 equal sized pieces.
Take one of the pieces and knock it back before beginning to shape it into disc. To do this, hold the dough by the edges and rotate it in you fingers, letting gravity stretch the dough. You should be left with a thin pizza base around 10” across with a slightly thicker lip. Dust a baking tray with a generous amount of semolina and place the base on top.
Spoon 3 tbsp of the tomatoes sauce onto the base and spread it out to an inch from the edges with the back of a spoon. Next sprinkle over a quarter of the marjoram leaves and oregano, followed by the sausage meat (if using) and finally the mozzarella.
Cook the pizza for 20 minutes until the cheese has melted and a golden crust has formed around the topping. Serve with a few edible marjoram flowers on top with salad.