Hello! It’s been a long time again, hasn’t it? It isn’t that I haven’t been cooking (says she who baked mumble-several-hundred biscuits for Christmas this year and also co-hosted Christmas dinner with her brother, who was under the adorable delusion that there wouldn’t be overcatering), or even that I was overwhelmed with lab relocations at work and my reviewing gig outside it (though these things are both true).
It’s not even that self-defeating guilt of ‘I haven’t posted anything for ages and now I feel weird about posting anything at all’, though this also applies.
It’s a much older and simpler problem than that, and one which has plagued me since the very start of this blog, and that is the problem of photos.
Specifically, getting them from my phone or my camera onto my computer and thence into a size and format suitable for WordPress.
I won’t lie: I hate it.
A recipe, once developed, I can write up in ten minutes. Easy. Photos, however, take FOREVER. For a post with three or four photos, I will spend at least half an hour, usually longer, getting those photos from my camera or phone onto WordPress. For a post with a lot of photos, that’s my whole evening or afternoon gone. And it is tedious and annoying, and honestly I’ve reached the point where I think about posting a recipe and then think about the photos and just feel too depressed to bother. Life is too short.
(Please don’t come here and tell me your super fast technique for dealing with photos. Just take me at my word that I have tried many, many different things, and I am tired.)
I started this blog because I wanted to be able to write down recipes I’d invented and enjoyed so that I didn’t lose them. And that’s been falling by the wayside because I’m so demoralised by dealing with photos.
My Not-Quite-New-Year’s Resolution, therefore, is that going forward there will be FAR FEWER photos on these posts. Like, one, maybe two photos per recipe, unless it’s one of those posts where I’m showing off a wedding cake or something. I’m hoping that this way there will actually be more posts. I don’t want to abandon this blog.
So here’s a recipe I’ve been sitting on since last January or thereabouts because I didn’t have photos of every stage of the process and I kept forgetting to take them. This is my new favourite pizza dough, because my wrists really won’t let me knead things any more, and this dough is fabulous without kneading – it has a bit of that sourdough chewiness to it that I like in all breads, and that is a saving grace if, like me, you always put too much topping on your pizza so that it winds up a bit soggy.
The trick to it is that it’s very wet and sticky, so handling it is a bit of a pest, but it’s absolutely worth it. You have to start it a day in advance – I like to make it on Thursday nights, because if I have pizza dough all ready to go, that significantly reduces the chances of me giving up and ordering takeaway on Friday night.
Your Shopping List
375 g bread flour (you want a high protein flour for this, try to avoid anything calling itself cake flour)
1/8 tsp dry yeast, slightly heaped
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water (cooler is fine, hotter might kill the yeast)
Now what will you do with it?
Note: this recipe makes two largeish pizzas – enough for four fairly hungry adults.
Stir together the dry ingredients, then mix in the water until it is all incorporated. You will have a sticky, heavy dough.
Clean the bowl, and pour a little oil into the bottom of it, then smear it around. Put your ball of dough into the bowl, roll it to coat in oil, then cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 24 hours. (If the weather is super hot, maybe put it in the fridge during the day, but leave it out overnight).
After twenty four hours, preheat the oven to 230°C, and line two pizza trays with baking paper. Flour or oil your hands well, then divide the dough in two, and stretch each half out to fit the tray. It will be unbelievably sticky and elastic.
My great aunt’s technique is to make both hands into loose fists, thumbs facing up, balance the dough on them, and then kind of counter-rotate them rapidly to stretch the dough out and keep it somewhat circular. This takes some practice, but does work if you’ve floured yourself well enough. Having said that, I invariably get one picture perfect round pizza and one hot mess with holes in it that still tastes great.
Add the toppings of your choice, drizzle with a little more olive oil, then bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pizza looks done.
Variations and toppings
This dough is vegan and nut-free but obviously requires gluten to work. How vegan the final pizza is depends on your toppings, of course.
My preferred topping for this dough are a generous spread of passata, rounds of mozzarella, rounds of fresh tomato, and dollops of pesto.
Another topping I like is passata, grated mozzarella, grilled eggplant, zucchini, roasted capsicum and calabrese salami.
My Auntie Carmel’s pizza is passata, a very light sprinkling of grated cheese, sliced mushrooms, salami (half hungarian, half calabrese), olives, and a little pecorino. But she would use a more traditional pizza dough.
I also like a topping of ricotta mixed with parmesan, topped with roast sweet potato and asparagus, which caused my Italian father to threaten to disown me. It’s delicious anyway.