We first made these delicious thin crispy fried pizzas in Sabaudia, a small seaside town south of Rome, not far north of Naples. Everybody eats pizza there all day long, it seems, and this recipe for a pizza that can be made without a pizza oven struck us as being not only a different variation but delicious and very easy to make. There you are surrounded by buffalos, every shop and roadside stall selling mozzarella of every shape and size, and the fields are full of tomatoes, falling off the vines, so sweet they hardly need to be cooked into a sauce.
|500g||fresh, very ripe plum tomatoes|
|extra virgin olive oil|
|2||garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced|
|sea salt and freshly ground black pepper|
|2 x 250g||buffalo mozzarellas, sliced|
|plain bread flour, for dusting|
|a bunch||of fresh basil, leaves picked|
|salted anchovies (optional), filleted, rinsed, and drizzled with olive oil|
|For the pizza dough:|
|4 tsp||granular dried yeast|
|4 tbsp||extra virgin olive oil|
|1 tsp||sea salt|
|plain organic bread flour|
To make the pizza dough:
Mix together the granular dried yeast, 125ml warm water and rye flour in a large warm bowl. Leave in a warm place to form a sponge (i.e. a thickish airy mixture); this will take at least 30 minutes. It is important to cover the bowl while the yeasts start to work and to make sure there are no cold draughts.
Add the remaining dough ingredients to the bowl and mix together. Place on a floured board and knead with your hands, using quick, light motions. Add more flour to the board to stop the dough sticking.
Knead for 10–15 minutes to make it elastic and silky. This soft dough will make a light crispy pizza. Brush the sides of a large bowl with olive oil. Put in the dough, drizzle a little oil over the surface to prevent a crust forming, then cover with a cloth and put back in a warm place. When the dough hasrisen to double its size – this will take up to 2 hours – remove from the bowl on to a floured surface. Knock it back and knead three or four times, then return it to the oiled bowl. Cover the bowl and let rise for a further 40 minutes.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces.
To make the Fried Pizzas:
Choose a small frying pan with a well-fitting lid; about 25–28cm diameter is perfect for individual little pizzas. Peel the tomatoes and roughly chop them. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and let it colour, then add the tomatoes. Stir to break up the tomatoes, and
season. Cook over a medium heat until reduced to a sauce. If the tomatoes are really soft and ripe you will have a sauce in 5 or 6 minutes. Slice the mozzarella into 0.5cm thick slices.
On a flour-dusted surface, using a flour-dusted rolling pin, roll out the dough balls as thin as you can to the size of your chosen frying pan. Heat the frying pan over a moderate heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and, when the oil is hot, slip in the dough. Let it briefly colour and crisp on the underside, then turn it over. Remove from the heat and spoon over a thin spreading of tomato sauce.
Tear over 2 or 3 slices of mozzarella, and add 3 or 4 basil leaves and an anchovy if you wish. Scatter with sea salt and black pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Put back on the heat. Cover the pan with the lid and cook for 1–2 minutes, or until the mozzarella has just melted. The skill is in keeping enough heat when the lid is on the pan to melt the mozzarella but not burn the pizza base.