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It Takes 15 Days To Make The Perfect Pizza

Recipes have been handed down for generations, but what does it really take to make the best pizza?

Pizza -- one of the most popular foods in the world -- might seem like a simple dish, but making the perfect one can take more than two weeks.

That's because good pizza all comes down to the base, according to Richard Purdue, head chef at Sydney establishment Rosetta.

“It’s more about the base than anything else,” Purdue told 10 daily.

“The best pizza has crunch but chew, and chew is the most difficult thing to achieve in a base.”

Making a base from scratch involves a 15-day process of gas, vinegary smells, feeding yeast, and plenty of rest.

But despite the length of time, making dough is actually really simple: just mix water, flour, salt and olive oil with your starter (see recipe below).

A balanced base is key to a good pizza. Photo: Rosetta

A quick five-hour rest later, and you're ready to begin the dough shaping process.

This step is crucial. The wrong technique can undo all your time-consuming work.

“You’re just gently stretching it and it’ll tell you when it doesn’t want to stretch anymore and then you stretch somewhere else," he said.

To shape a pizza base, the dough needs to be carefully stretched.

Like the icing on the cake, the toppings are the final and seemingly easiest part of building the perfect pizza.

“Once you have the base right, you have the topping to compliment the base," Purdue said, stressing that it's all about balance.

He recommends combinations like salami and mozzarella, garlic and olive oil or mushroom and tomato.

“Keep it simple. Don’t try and do too much. Simple base, quality ingredients and that’s it. That’s the number one thing.”

Pizza toppings should be simple and of high quality.

Despite using a dedicated 400°C pizza oven at work, Purdue admits there are tricks to cooking a quality pizza at home.

“I have a 40cm paver... it’s quite thick and weighs about 10 kilos but once it gets hot in the oven, it stays hot which what you want the dough to hit," he said.

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Across the globe the perfect pizza varies, but Purdue said Australians favour a thin crust that's almost floppy in the middle.

“We bring it out to the edge of the oven and make sure it’s cooked through and just let it kind of relax a little bit before we bring it out and cut it," he advised.

A pizza base can have some small, circular burns.

To sum up in one mouthful, the way is make the perfect pizza is:

“To make the best base you can, buy the best quality ingredients you can afford and keep it simple."

Richard Purdue’s Recipe:

Biga (or pre-fermentation)

Day 1:

  • 500ml water, 25°C
  • 300g fresh fruit pulp, strained (high-sugar fruit, such as Fuji apples)
  •  1kg strong flour (at least 300W in strength) In a large bowl, combine all ingredients with hands until no lumps remain. Do not overwork. Seal with cling film and leave at 18-22°C until fermentation begins, maximum 48 hours. If fermentation hasn’t begun, start again.

Day 3:

  • 500g biga
  • 300g water, 25-30°C
  • 400g Caputo Red flour In a large bowl, combine all ingredients with hands until no lumps remain. Do not overwork. Seal with cling film and leave at 18-22°C until fermentation begins, maximum 48 hours. If fermentation hasn’t begun, start again.

Day 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15:

  • Repeat Day 3 steps.
  • By day 15, the biga should have a vinegary smell. (If it smells like blue cheese, start again.)
  • At this stage, the biga is ready to use. It will need to be fed every two days and then refrigerated.

Dough

  • 2 litres water 22-25°C
  • 440g biga
  • 3.6kg Caputo Red flour
  • 94g salt
  • 94ml olive oil Combine water and biga in spiral mixer, mix on speed 2 for 4 minutes. It should form a froth. Add 2⁄3 of the flour and mix on speed 2 for 5 minutes. Add remaining flour and mix on speed 2 for another 5 minutes. Add salt and mix on speed 2 for another 7 minutes. Add oil and mix another 7 minutes. Rest dough at room temperature for 20 minutes in winter, or 10 minutes in summer. Portion dough to 250g balls. Rest dough at room temperature for 4 hours in winter, or 3 hours in summer, then refrigerate. Fermentation needs to have begun before the dough is refrigerated.

Pizza

Dough balls need to come up to room temperature before shaping, but don’t allow to overprove. Each ball will make a pizza 11-12 inches in diameter. Be Careful when stretching not to knock out the air from the dough. Bake at 390-400°C.