It’s time again to talk about my complicated relationship with my sourdough starter. It’s just like the relationship you might have with a goldfish: it is my pet, I do everything I have to do to keep it alive, I admire it and sometimes I even talk proudly about it, but then I do not play with it and I do not take it for a walk, it’s not like a puppy.
My sourdough starter is in a good shape, fed with good organic flour and kept in the fridge long enough to keep it alive, but it has been months since the last time I made a bread or a pizza, or a brioche. I’m lazy, and still uncertain on my legs when it comes to dirt my hands with flour and knead it.
Yet I have this dream, I would love to make a good pizza, no, not just good, really good. I would love to invite my friends over for a movie and pizza evening and see the excitement in their eyes at the thought of slices of crisp, golden pizza, with a tasty tomato preserve made during summer and a buffalo mozzarella. I would love to see them salivating. Instead, in their eyes I see only a mixture of terror and disillusionment…
I am thirty two years old, I have my own little apartment, my fridge, my bedroom with a king size bed and a comfy duvet, my couch, my fireplace and my oven. It was time to have to my own recipe for pizza, too. And the recipe came unexpectedly, on a late summer Sunday with warm autumn colours and a fresh balsamic breeze, in a cozy house near Mugello, during a lunch with a bunch of new friends.
The lunch was extremely pleasant (well, they made two generous trays of eggplant parmigiana, just imagine how excited I was) and was followed by a slow chat full of laughter, including a coffee and a slice of a fabulous cheese cake with figs.
Then comes the question. How do you make pizza? Performance anxiety. I should know how to do it, right? That is, I do cooking classes, I have also written a cookbook, I am a food blogger but… I can not do pizza. I should blame my mum for this, she has always made the best pizza and I have just enjoyed it, year after year. I chose the way of honesty: I have no idea, how do you make it?
Luckily on the other side I found a generous person and he willingly shared with me his recipe, which immediately became also my own recipe, given the outstanding results I had. Half a pizza eaten during the photo shoot is enough to prove how good it was?
This is Samuele’s pizza, the one I will make from now on with any seasonal variation you can imagine. It is a lifetime gift. It is made with fresh brewer’s yeast, a very small amount, it matures in the fridge overnight with a slow rising. Forget the rolling pin, use your hands to flatten it on the tray. Oh you should feel the texture, so soft and silky.
I’m sharing it with you because I’m curious to know what you think, and of course to steal some other secrets about the wonderful world of pizza…
*The amount of water I used depends mainly on the flour I chose, an organic stone ground wheat flour made from heritage grains. So, add it gradually.
- 1 kg of organic stone-ground wheat flour
- 500 ml of warm water + about 300 ml
- 1 generous pinch of sea salt
- 7 g of fresh brewer's yeast
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 4 young zucchini with their flowers
- Anchovies in oil
- 300 g of buffalo mozzarella
- Extra virgin olive oil
Pour the flour into the stand mixer bowl, add the salt and pour the first 500 ml of warm water. Knead for about 15 minutes with the hook, gradually adding water. When it seems that it requires more flour, add slowly more water, until you get a very soft dough. It must be elastic, so that when you gently pull it, it won't tear. At the end add the yeast dissolved in a little bit of water and the extra virgin olive oil and knead again until they are completely incorporated.
Grease the surface lightly with some olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and stash in the fridge until the next day, or at least for twenty hours.
The next day, take the dough out of the fridge about 3 hours in advance.
Heat the oven to 250°C, fan assisted.
Grease with extravirgin olive oil a round pizza pan. Grease your hands with extravigin olive oil and stretch out a portion of the dough into the pan with a thickness of about 5 mm.
Sprinkle the surface of the pizza with thin sliced zucchini, the zucchini flowers cut into strips, some anchovies in oil, the chopped chives and the mozzarella coarsely torn with your hands. Drizzle with extravirgin olive oil and season with a pinch of salt. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.
Eat it immediately until hot, and enjoy it!
Update on my September good intention list.
On Saturday I went to Rome to visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. Needless to say it was a memorable experience, tiring, full of tourists, but memorable. It’s always so so moving to be surprised by such works of art, it’s impressive how you stand there, open-mouthed, speechless, with a shiver behind your neck for the emotion.
And today I’m on the road again, heading to Moena, Trentino and its beautiful Alps. I will tell you more about this as well …