All-time pizza expert and Franco Manca founder Bridget Hugo shares her recipe for perfect pizza
This dough recipe is the most succinct and versatile one I know, super-easy and plenty of fun. By ‘easy’ I don’t mean quick, rather that it is made simply and without haste. Though it is not the sourdough recipe we use at Franco Manca, it is a ‘slow’ recipe, meaning the dough is allowed enough time to acquire taste and become more digestible, just like sourdough.
This is my ‘go to’ dough because I can make it wherever I am and use it for several products. For the quantities given I can make two ciabatta loaves or one large sandwich tin, a tray of focaccia or about 12 doughnuts. I simply change how I shape it and cook it at the end. If I have more interesting flours (organic/ stoneground) available I can make a good bread loaf or a couple of large baguettes from it too.
I’ve recently started to use it to make rotis (leaving out the yeast in the second stage). These have proved to be the handiest things to freeze. When I’ve defrosted them I pan-fry them with ghee then wrap them up with warmed up left-overs and the approriate crispy bits and condiments – usually fresh chillis, a dollop of chutney and spoonfuls of yoghurt and cucumber raita. This dough is the gift that keeps on giving!
For pizza I use what I call the ‘over and under’ method. The pizza cooks underneath in a pan on top of the stove, then you slide it onto a hot baking tray beneath a grill to cook the top. It is much easier this way and works perfectly. Evviva!
MAKES 6 pizzas weighing around 200g each (each big enough for one person)
To make the poolish (I call this my ‘smart’ starter)
500g plain bread flour (protein 10% plus)
Mix it together with a spoon in a container with a lid, then put it in the fridge for anything from 8 – 24hrs
Make dough (no less than 3 hours before you want to make the pizzas)
Add 250g more flour
3g more yeast and
3 teaspoon salt
Leave it for one hour then add
30g olive oil and knead well
Leave another hour then divide equally into six
Shape your balls on an oily surface and cover with oiled clingfilm
Leave another hour and a bit to prove (longer if the weather is cold and damp)
Make the pizzas
Pre-heat the grill and baking tray
Heat the frying pan
Open the dough balls by flattening them, then stretching them
Place on the pan
Add tomato sauce and/or toppings
Once the pizza looks cooked underneath, slide it onto the baking tray and finish under the grill
Notes on toppings
To make a tomato sauce, just heat some olive oil, salt and one clove of crushed garlic (or a teaspoon of minced onion) then add a tin of peeled plum tomatoes and crush with a fork as they heat up. Do not cook longer than about 5 mins.
You can skip the tomato sauce and add wilted spinach and a fresh herby cheese, or use left-over roasted vegetables with mozzarella, or mushrooms and ricotta. You can also use the tomato sauce without the mozzarella and add salted fish and capers, or a smear of pesto or harissa on the base instead of tomato sauce. Cured meats work well with olives and fried bacon with slow cooked caramelised red onions. You can add ingredients at the end like fresh green chillis, grated parmesan or a smudge of creme fraiche or fresh leaves. Pretty much anything you like in a sandwich will work on a pizza!
Bridget Hugo is founder of Franco Manca and BreadBread Bakery. She is the author of Artisan Pizza To Make Pefectly At Home and the writer and presenter of the Idler Academy course, How to Make Sourdough Bread: The Ultimate Guide to Slow Baking.