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The Pink Leopard

The perfect margherita pizza

Trish Gallagher
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Homemade pizza
Pizza started flaunting itself pretty heavily in Australia from the early 1970s and my family were on to it. More because my Dad’s attempts to pass off crumpets with tomato sauce and melted cheese or tinned spaghetti as ‘Italian cuisine’ wasn’t cutting the mustard.
Trish Gallagher
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I’m not sure how it happened, but I always remember being extremely well behaved whenever we went out for dinner as a family. It may have been the fear that if we fiddled, wriggled, giggled, or fidgeted there would be hell to pay.

Dining out in the 70’s for my suburban family was quite a big deal. Mum would dress my brother and I in the most uncomfortable polyester slacks and scratchiest nylon jumpers she could find. Dad would put on his powder blue safari suit and slick his hair back with Bryll cream and off we went to the local pizza shop.

Pizza started flaunting itself pretty heavily in Australia from the early 1970s and my family were on to it. More because my Dad’s attempts to pass off crumpets with tomato sauce and melted cheese or tinned spaghetti as ‘Italian cuisine’ wasn’t cutting the mustard with my brother and I and we begged to go to one of the new chain restaurants.

Along with Pizza, the green and gold hue of ‘Henny Penny’ was a family favourite and a dodgy Chinese take away but that was about it.

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These atrocities that my father cooked are the reason that I have spent decades in search of the perfect pizza. Over the years, they have become bigger and cheesier and more ‘filled’ than ever.

I miss the plain pizzas from my childhood and rarely come across anything these days that beats those memories. So I make my own.

The beauty of homemade pizza bases is that you can spend a small amount of time making a large batch and they freeze beautifully. You can make them any size and any thickness you like.

Organic tomato paste is a great base, but trust me – nothing beats fresh diced tomato and a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese for the perfect Margherita pizza. Your kids will never want to eat out again.

Margherita Pizza
Makes 2 large or 6 small

500gms plain strong flour
300ml tepid water
1.5 sachets of dry yeast
1 teaspoon brown sugar
6 ripe tomatoes diced finely
1 clove garlic crushed
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Mozzarella cheese to taste

Dissolve sugar and yeast in tepid water, about 5 minutes. Make a well in the centre of the flour and slowly pour in water/yeast mixture, drawing the flour in from the sides until all water is combined and you are left with a soft ball.

Knead for as long as your hands can handle it (my limit is about 4 minutes). Fill a mixing bowl with hot water, tip out and dry thoroughly quickly this creates an instant warm environment for your dough. Place ball of dough in bowl and cover with a tea towel.

Leave in a warm place until doubled in size – about an 1.5 hours. Knock the air out and divide into 6 small balls. Roll out to thickness of your preference. You can wrap in baking paper and freeze at this point.

Combine tomato, garlic olive oil and seasoning in a bowl as soon as you have mixed your dough. That way this will ‘marinade’ whilst the dough is rising. Once the dough is rolled out, spread tomato over pizza and sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake in a hot oven (220 degrees) for 15 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.

Watch: Curtis Stone cooks parmesan and Dijon crusted chicken with beans and capers

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