by Theo Randall from The Italian Deli Cookbook (Hardie Grant)
Photography: Lizzie Mayson
In this recipe, I’ve used fresh oregano, but good-quality dried will work well too. And, of course, if you see bunches of oregano in an Italian deli, buy some.
Makes 4 large pizzas
For the pizza dough
1kg (2lb 4oz) tipo 00 flour, plus extra for kneading (or any other 00 flour)
5g (⅛oz) fast-action dried yeast
2 tbsp good olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 tsp runny honey
600ml (21fl oz) lukewarm water
20g (¾oz) salt
100g (3½oz) fine semolina flour, for shaping
For the topping
600ml (21fl oz) tomato passata
200g (7oz) Datterini (baby plum) tomatoes (or any other baby plum tomatoes), halved and tossed in 2 tbsp olive oil
50g (1¾oz) oregano leaves, roughly chopped
100g (3½oz) ’nduja
2 courgettes (zucchini)
150ml (5fl oz) mascarpone
Place the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
In a separate bowl, combine the yeast, olive oil, honey and water and give everything a good stir to dissolve the yeast and honey.
With the machine on its lowest setting, pour the yeast mixture into the flour a little at a time, ensuring each pour is absorbed before adding the next. Repeat until you have added all of it. Knead the dough in the mixer on a medium speed for 15 minutes, until completely smooth. Add the salt and knead again until the salt has been fully combined.
Turn out the dough on to your work surface and knead by hand until you have a large, smooth ball. Add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky to knead. Place the dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean, damp cloth, then leave in a warm place to rise for 3 hours (yes, 3 hours) until it is doubled in size. Divide the risen dough into 4 equal pieces, shape into neat balls, cover with a cloth again and leave to prove for a further 30 minutes.
An hour before your dough is ready, heat your oven to its highest setting with 4 pizza stones inside (if you have them), or 4 baking sheets. Use both the top and bottom elements of your oven, if you have the option, so that you get a crisp base and melty cheese.
Dust your surface and each dough ball with semolina. To shape the pizza, take the first ball of dough and use your knuckles to stretch it out, turning it as you go. Leave half the piece of dough overhanging the work surface with each turn, so that gravity helps stretch it out. This does take a bit of practice, but it’s the best way to achieve a lovely light, crispy pizza. Alternatively, use a rolling pin to roll into a large oval. Repeat for the remaining balls of dough.
Divide the passata equally over the top of each dough base. Combine the tomatoes and oregano and scatter the mixture over the bases. Break up the ’nduja into small pieces – each the size of the tip of your little finger – then scatter these on top of the pizzas. Using the coarse side of a box grater, grate over the courgettes. Finish with teaspoonfuls of the mascarpone.
Transfer the pizzas to the hot pizza stones or baking sheets and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the pizzas are crisp and firm on the edges and fully cooked at the base. Drizzle with some good olive oil and serve immediately.