Pizza: History, recipes, stories, people, places, love
Thom and James Elliott have curated Pizza, an amazing book that’s totally about pizza from recipes for such stunning varieties like Mortadella & Pistachio pie to city guides on where to get the best pizza when in Rome, Naples, Paris, and Chicago as well as a chapter on great pizza pop cultural moments. And that’s just for starters. You don’t have to be a pizza pie devotee to enjoy the recipes, stories, and journeys he takes on.
James and his brother Thom are known as the Pizza Pilgrims duo, took a look at all things pizza throughout the world and put it together in this lavish cookbook. To do their due diligence, they ditched their jobs in 2012 to go on a life-changing pilgrimage to Naples, the home of pizza, to earn how it’s done from the source. Back in the UK, they set up a market stall in Soho selling pizza from the back of their trusty Ape van. Pizza Pilgrims now run 16 pizzerias (and counting) in London and the southeast of the UK.
“Pizza is one of the most universal foods and the passion people have for it is clearly noted in pop culture across the world,” the two brothers say. “We have been working in pizza for over a decade, so we wanted to write a love letter of sorts chronicling pizza in culture, the people that make it, the styles that have been created across the globe and the love that people have for it! Everyone has a mate that loves pizza, like, REALLY loves it—this book is for them!”
Published by Hardie Grant Books, November 2020, RRP $29.99 Hardcover. it makes a good gift for the foodies in your life and a great addition to your own cookbook collection.
The Nutella Ring
4 ½ ounces Neapolitan pizza dough (see recipe below)
1 ½ ounces ricotta
3 ½ ounces Nutella
Ice cream, to serve
Preheat your oven as hot as it will go.
Using your fingertips, stretch out the dough into a long rectangle about 35cm/14in long and 12cm/5in wide.
Using a spoon, spread the ricotta over the dough lengthways in a long line. Then spoon as much Nutella as you can onto the dough in a long line down the middle of the ricotta. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Fold the dough over itself lengthways so you have a long Nutella parcel, then, using a closed fist, hammer the long edge to ensure a really strong seal on the dough.
Bring the ends of the parcel around to create a ring (with the seam on the inside) and press the two ends of dough together, using your fist again to make a strong seal.
Bake until the ring has inflated, and the crust is golden. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Making Neapolitan Pizza Dough
Tip: Weigh out all your ingredients before you start.
35 ounces ‘00’ flour—the authors recommend Caputo ‘blue’ which can be purchased on Amazon or your can substitute semolina flour
⅔ teaspoon fresh yeast
21 fluid ounces tepid water
1 ounce fine sea salt
Make a mountain of flour in the middle of the table. Using your fist, make a deep well in the middle of the flour, exposing the surface of the table (turning your mountain into a moon crater).
Crumble the yeast into the tepid water. Use your good hand to mash up the yeast in the water until it has dissolved. Fill your crater of flour with a third of the yeast/water mix. Using your fingertips, start making very small circular motions to combine the flour and water.
Start dragging in some more flour to the mix, by ‘undercutting’ the walls of the crater with your fingertips. As you do this the mixture in the middle will become thicker. Once it reaches the consistency of porridge you need to add a bit more water. Don’t let it get too thick; if it starts to form a dough too soon it becomes difficult to incorporate the rest of the water. Keep dragging in a little flour to thicken the mix, then pouring a little bit more water in to loosen it, until you have all the water used up.
Sprinkle the sea salt over the mixture while it’s still very wet to ensure it dissolves and disperses evenly throughout the dough. Now use both hands to push the remaining flour from the outside into the middle. Fold and press the mix until all the flour is absorbed, and a dough comes together. If you have a dough scraper it really helps get everything off the table, but you can improvise with a paint scraper, spatula, or knife.
Work the gluten by kneading the dough. Use the heel of your hand to stretch out the dough and roll it back up, while the other hand acts like an anchor. You’ll be able to see the strands of gluten stretching, breaking, being put back together, and becoming stronger. Continue this for about 8 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and glossy. It should also feel tighter and elastic.
Let the dough have a 10-minute rest to relax the gluten. Cover the dough with a damp cloth or some plastic wrap to keep the air from drying it out. Then divide your bulk of dough into individual portions. Ensure your dough balls are neatly shaped – pinched at the bottom and tight on the top – then place them in a tray or container 1-inch apart. Cover with a tight lid or plastic wrap.
Leave the dough at room temperature for approximately 6 hours until it expands to almost double its size, then store in the fridge overnight. The next day remove the dough from the fridge for 1–2 hours and bring it back to room temperature before making your pizzas.
Pumpkin, Sausage, Sage & Chili
This pizza was inspired by the first man to teach us how to make pizza – Gianluca. He was our cooking teacher when we were in Tuscany and he made a pumpkin and sausage pasta dish that we will remember for ever. We took this recipe as gospel and just transported it onto a pizza, which in our opinion sums up the taste of autumn perfectly
1 ball of Neapolitan pizza dough
Parmesan, for grating
1 tbsp good-quality olive oil
80g (3oz) fior di latte mozzarella, torn or sliced
60g (2oz) roasted fennel sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
4–5 sage leaves sliced
fresh chili, to taste
chili oil, to serve
FOR THE PUMPKIN MIXTURE
Makes enough for 4 pizzas
40g (1½oz) butter
50ml (scant ¼ cup) good-quality olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
500g (1lb 2oz) diced pumpkin (prepared weight)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.For the pumpkin, heat the butter, oil and garlic in a large saucepan until the garlic is golden brown. Tip in the pumpkin and cook, stirring occasionally, on a medium heat until soft. Add salt and pepper to taste, then take off the heat and leave to cool.
2.Preheat the grill (broiler) to its absolute highest setting, and place a large, ovenproof frying pan (skillet) over a high heat and let it get screaming hot.
3.Meanwhile, flatten and stretch the dough ball (following the instructions on page 101) to make a 10-inch pizza base.
4.Lay the pizza base flat in the hot, dry frying pan, then spread with80g (3oz) of the pumpkin mixture. Grate over some Parmesan and drizzle with the olive oil, then top with the mozzarella, sausage, sage leaves and fresh chilli.
5.Once the base of the pizza has browned, about 1–2 minutes, place the frying pan under the grill on the highest shelf.
6.Once the crust has taken on some color, about 1–2 minutes, drizzle with chili oil. Pumpkin
Suggested credit line: Recipes excerpted with permission from PIZZA: Pizza: recipes, stories, history, places, people, love
by Thom Elliot and James Elliot, published by Hardie Grant Books, November 2020, RRP $29.99 Hardcover.