Buzz Lightyear’s Pizza Special
I have never eaten as much pizza in my life, as I have in the past two-and-a-half years I have been dating Buzz Lightyear. For him, the answer to the question, “what would you like for dinner?”, is always “pizza”, said with slight trepidation, as he knows I don’t quite have the same passion for pizza everyday of the week as he does. That being said, even those times I agree almost begrudgingly to yet another pizza, I always end up happy and content, my tummy filled to the brim with carbs and deliciousness.
When I talk of this frequent consumption of pizza, I’m not talking about your Joe-Shmoe on the corner dial-up-and-watch-it-get-delivered-via-an-app kind of pizza. I’m talking the real stuff. We luckily live in close proximity to an absolutely beautiful pizza restaurant, which fortunately for us, also does takeaway. We order so often, and generally, the same order, to the point that they finish our order for us when we dial up.
But these guys know their stuff. The base is beautifully delicate, there’s an array of great produce, and the real test for me, is the fact that the basil is put on the pizza after it has come out of the oven, in big, green leaves, to avoid them getting burnt in the oven.
Buzz Lightyear has a deep appreciation for good food, and great pizza. This naturally lead him down the path one day of making his own pizzas, and this is a man who does not do things by halves. He has read, worked, and practiced, and to this day is continually improving his recipe. It actually amazes me that the pizzas he makes get better and better, because they are, bias aside, the best homemade pizzas I have ever eaten, and right up there in the best I’ve had at home or out.
He is our resident baker here at Casa de Kitchenland. He’s the go-to man for bread in its many forms. And so, today, he features as our guest in this Buzz Lightyear Pizza Special.
There are a few things that will take you pizza to a higher level of yumminess. One of the most important, I believe, is a baking stone in your oven. We actually keep the stone in the oven permanently – not only is it great when making pizza and bread, but I am a firm believer that it genuinely helps when cooking all sorts of things, like roasts, as the stone heats the dish from below, allowing for equal distribution of the temperature.
Another important factor, is love. Not just in pizza, of course, in all cooking, but there’s something about dough, where you have to work so closely with your product, shaping it with your own two hands, that the idea of love is an ingredient becomes real. You will see the difference in your dough if you pay it the care and attention it deserves. I read somewhere once that if you start to pay attention to your baker, you’ll be able to tell how they were feeling on the day, as it translate directly into the bread they bake. And I believe it! So, make sure not to neglect your dough.
Four cups of white flour (00 is preferable), plus extra to knead
Two teaspoons of fine salt
One and a half teaspoons of dried instant yeast
Two tablespoons of olive oil
One and a third cups of warm water (plus extra if needed)
Method (makes 8 small pizzas, or 4 large)
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl and start mixing. You can do this by hand, or by setting up your bowl to your kitchen mixer.
Add olive oil, and slowly start pouring in the water, mix til incorporated.
Start kneading, either by using the dough hook on your mixer or by hand, for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Knead for five 5 longer than what you feel is ready. Make sure when kneading, you really stretch out the dough, as this is necessary to stretch out the gluten and make the dough nice and elastic.
The perfect point is when you press into the dough, and it springs back slightly to the touch.
Shape the dough into a round ball, and place in an oiled bowl. Cover the bowl in cling film, and let rest somewhere warm (we chose by the window) until the dough has doubled in size, which is roughly 2 hours in Winter, and just over an hour in Summer.
If you have the time, you can put the dough into the fridge for a slow, cool rise overnight, which gives the dough the opportunity to develop a more complex flavour.
When you’re ready to start preparing your dough, preheat oven to the hottest temperature available (we went to 220 degrees celsius).
Press into the dough with your fingers to release the air, and knead, briefly, until it is back into a manageable ball.
Divide into eight even pieces, to make eight small pizzas, or divide in four for larger pizzas. Shape the individual pieces into smooth, round balls and start rolling out using a rolling pin until they are roughly 2mm thick.
At this point, you can top with whatever you like. We personally like to make some infused olive oils while the dough is rising, as this is a great way to add authentic flavour to your pizzas. Simply pour a little olive oil into two small bowls, add crushed garlic to one, and chopped chilli to the other. Top both with salt and pepper, and leave to infuse.
We topped our ‘bianca’ pizzas with the garlic infused olive oil, buffalo mozzarella, as well as regular mozzarella, salt, pepper and then a drizzle of the chilli oil once out of the oven.
Pop in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes until nice and crispy on the edges, with the cheese blackening in parts.
In our next Buzz Lightyear Pizza Special, we’ll delve into perfect pizza sauce, to take your pizzas from bianca to rossa!