As easy as a pie

The world sinks low. Women stop cooking declaring firmly that it’s no pleasure for them. The revolution (as it can’t be called otherwise) currently taking place results at the same time in many representatives of the opposite sex finding fulfilment in the kitchen. Some men derive pleasure from cooking, others just consider it a monotonous daily routine. The roles are reserved, and I realize that many women cooked only because of “social coercion”. 

But it doesn’t permit any of them to give the corners of their kitchens a wide berth. The most peculiar statement I always hear concerns lack of time. I think that the main reason is lack of willingness to get to know and create new tastes.

Dear Ladies, you are able to satisfy your whole household by spending only fifteen minutes in the kitchen.

Unbelievable? But it’s definitely true. There are many dishes you can prepare, and they’re not ready-made food you’d just have to warm up in the oven or microwave. Pizza is a flagship example for cooking beginners. There are of course people who don’t like it, but let’s face the truth: most of us love pizza. This common pie, which in spite of all appearances hides many great secrets, will surely settle in many houses. But before I move on to the recipe for the perfect pizza dough, I’d like to share several side notes with you.

Pizza was once considered food for the poorest. It owes its origin to a leavened bread called focaccia. It used to be baked with various ingredients already in the ancient times. Pizza is famous in the whole Mediterranean Basin, where we can find many varieties of this dish. But the place to look for its origins is Naples. It was here that for example the first pizzeria was opened. Most chefs would disregard this pie associated with the poor and hardly creative food. But pizza was luckily rendered famous thanks to Queen Margherita’s visit in Naples. She liked particularly the one with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. The colours on the pizza symbolised the Italian flag. Since then on, this type of pizza has been called Margherita in her honour. And this the long story of the pie that conquered the world cut short.

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I’ve always claimed that pizza should be cut into triangles and have a thin crust and firm structure so that the ingredients on the top don’t fall down when you hold your piece. But the spell of my vision was broken when I acquired a taste to pizza served in Sicily – with thicker crust, phenomenal ingredients and – what do you know! – cut into squares.

There are probably as many recipes for dough as there are housewives in Italy. But I have one sure recipe I’d like to share with you. You’ll need warm water (around 350 ml), wheat flour type 550 (0.5 kg), yeast (20 g), sugar (half a teaspoon), a teaspoon of salt and two spoons of olive oil. If you have a chance to use semolina, take 0.1 kg of the already-mentioned flour and add semolina. The pizza will be more stable and crispy. Mix water with yeast, salt and sugar and add flour. Once again mix everything until uniform and leave it covered with a linen cloth to rise. Now divide the dough into fist-size balls and put them aside. The best thing to do would be to leave them like that in the fridge for several hours, but we rarely have such a possibility.

Prepare the sauce: take tomatoes, basil or oregano. More lazy ones can mix it. Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the pie. Add any other ingredient you like, although I must honestly admit I despise pizza with pineapple. All ingredients like anchovies, capers, artichokes, olives, ham and pepperoni are welcome. Place mozzarella on top and put the pizza inside the oven.

And now the hard part begins. The temperature you need for baking pizza is at least 230-240 degrees Celsius. Few ovens reach such a temperature. I’d suggest even higher temperature, reaching 280-300 degrees. Such an effect can be achieved grilling the pizza under a lid. It would be ideal to put a chamotte stone under the pie.

Now all you need to do is watch the crust and take out the ready dish, which will undoubtedly satisfy the whole family, after just several minutes spent in 230 degrees Celsius.

But there’s one more thing you have to remember. There’s nothing worse than eating pizza with ketchup or garlic sauce. I have no idea why this idiocy profaning pizza appears sometimes in menus of restaurants offering this common but noble pie.

I personally recommend several drops of extra virgin olive oil and basta!


Text: Kamil Sadkowski

Photos: Joanna Ogórek

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