9 months ago
Ahhh, Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness......and Crema di Zucca pizza!
I’m very excited to be contributing to this week’s Feed section. For those that know me, it will be no surprise that I am writing about pizza, and for those that don’t, hi, my name is Rich, I’m a 2D lead artist at The Mill, I love VFX, and I absolutely adore pizza.
I’ve loved pizza all my life, and looking back, I’ve cherished every single stage of my pizza addiction. Beginning with teenage trips to Pizza Hut and progressing, or regressing, to Dr Oetker’s Frozen pizza from the chiller cabinets in supermarkets, to drunken walks home via the Shell 24hr petrol station for a microwaved pizza baguette, thinking it tasted like heaven. To this day, I still believe there is a pizza for every occasion, be it a heavily processed supermarket artery clogger, a Chicago deep pan cheese-fest, a cheeky Pizza Express or a classic Neapolitan Margherita at some incredible London pizzeria. My current phase of addiction is based squarely in the classic Neapolitan Era, and it is from here that I will share my current favourite recipe.
I do have a tendency to waffle, so I’ll attempt to keep it short. Two years ago, after tiring of cooking average pizzas on a baking stone in my regular oven, I happened upon a small portable outdoor pizza oven called an Ooni 3. A year after that I invested in a Roccbox. Both ovens are capable of cooking pizza in 60 seconds at a temperature of 400 degrees. I was hooked. Two years later, after googling dough recipes, joining pizza forums, watching endless videos on YouTube and making pizzas at any opportunity, I have started a small family Pop-Up Pizzeria called Dough and Behold. We have only done a handful of events, but we're loving every minute.
Today’s recipe is new for me, but it’s insanely delicious. I made my first one at the weekend. It’s not my own recipe, it’s been borrowed and tweaked from many talented UK Pizzaiolos who have kindly shared this recipe with me (I will provide due credit at the end).
Crema di Zucca, Basil, Mozzarella, Nduja, and homemade chilli oil
- 2-3 x 125g bags of mozzarella (depending on how cheesey you like your pizzas)
- Nduja (You can buy this in jars from most large supermarkets, or for the real authentic stuff, find a good italian deli and they will serve it to you almost like a pate and wrap it up for you)
Crema di Zucca - Pumpkin cream
Ok, so I didn’t use pumpkin, I used a whole butternut squash.
- 1x Butternut Squash (or pumpkin)
- 1 x Large red...or white onion
- 6 x cloves of garlic
- 1 x small pot of double cream
- A few large glugs of olive oil (I used some homemade garlic oil)
- A good pinch of salt, and a few crunches of black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C, with an oiled roasting tin.
- Peel, de-seed, and dice the squash into 3-4cm squares
- Toss all these ingredients into the roasting tin, including the cloves of garlic
- Let it roast for 40-50 mins or until it starts to look properly roasted with some nice charred edges.
- While this is cooking, roughly chop one large red onion and gently fry in a large pan.
- When the butternut squash and garlic are cooked empty them into the large pan with the onions and mix (making sure to peel the skin off the roasted garlic first).
- Fill the pan with enough water to cover the onions and squash and bring to the boil (you can use vegetable or chicken stock too here if you like).
- Once it has been simmering away gently for about 10-20 mins turn off the heat and blitz with a handheld blender. When the zucca is looking nice and smooth, add about half a small tub of double cream and blitz some more until you are happy with the colour, so that it’s a nice, creamy, orange colour, and reasonably thick in texture.
- Boom! Your crema di zucca is ready.
(Enough for 4 x 240gram dough balls)
This is the most important part, and you can get amazing results by following these simple steps:
1) Make it the night before you want pizza. (24hours if possible)
2) I use fresh yeast (Bioreal). You can buy it from Planet Organic on Tottenham Court Road.
3) Try to use Italian Typo 00 flour. I use Caputo Pizzeria flour, it’s a finely ground flour that makes super silky dough. If you can’t find this then Strong White Bread Flour is a good alternative from any supermarket (Canadian Strong White Bread Flour works really well)
Water: 339grams (60% Hydration)
Fresh yeast: 0.3grams (or Instant dried yeast 0.12grams)
Helps if you have some micro scales!
- Weigh the flour into a large mixing bowl.
- Mix the fresh (or dried) yeast into the water
- Add water to the flour and roughly mix together until it forms a nice cohesive mass.
- Cover and leave the dough for 10-20mins (Known as the autolyse, this allows the gluten to develop, so the longer you leave it the better it will be. When you come back to it, your dough it will feel like it has properly absorbed the water and is nicely elastic when you knead it.
- Return to the dough, add the salt and knead the dough until it is soft and springy for about 10 mins. (If you have a food mixer with a dough hook then you can use this and mix for around the same amount of time)
- Once the dough feels nice and smooth, put it in an airtight container and assuming your room temp is 20-24°C leave it out overnight.
- The next day, about 4 -5 hours before you want to make pizza, tip out your dough onto a clean surface, divide it into 4 x 240g pieces and shape into nice round balls. Google “pizza dough ball shaping” for how-to videos.
- Put these into an airtight container and then when you are ready to cook** stretch them out into 10inch pizza bases, gently pressing down on your dough ball in the centre, pushing down and outwards leaving about a 2cm lip at the very edge of your pizza base. You are basically pushing all the air in the dough to the edge of your pizza base, so that when it cooks the air will expand and create a nice, light, puffy crust or cornicione as they say. It should look like the picture at the top of this section.
** So, ready to cook. Maybe you have a portable pizza oven. If you do, you will know how to cook these, and once topped you will have a gorgeous, classic, bubbling hot Neapolitan pizza in 60 seconds. If you don't, then not to worry, get yourself a cast iron frying pan. If you don't have a cast iron frying pan, you can use a normal one, you will ruin it, but then you will have a perfect excuse to buy a proper cast iron one (It worked for me!)
The Frying Pan Method
- Turn on your oven grill to its highest setting.
- Heat your cast iron pan on your hob until it is super hot.
- Get all your pizza toppings ready to apply to pizza (Crema di zucca, basil, mozzarella, nduja).
- Stretch your dough ball whilst your pan is heating. Geek out with this stretching vid!
- When you have stretched you dough, gently carry it to your hot pan and place it evenly on top without burning your knuckles!
- As soon as you've dropped your dough into the pan gently spoon your crema di zucca onto the pizza base. You need to do this quickly, and as you do it, you will notice the edges of your pizza start to puff up.
- Next, add a few basil leaves, your mozzarella, and about 5 or 6 teaspoonfuls of Nduja
- Once all your ingredients are added, using an oven glove, take your pan off the hob and place on a high shelf in your oven right under your piping hot grill for about 3-4mins. This will melt your cheese on top, cook the nduja and make all its lovely juices flow over your pizza. Once you are happy that it is cooked, take it out of the oven, place the pizza on a chopping board, drizzle with a little bit of chilli oil (or any olive oil) serve and enjoy!
I really hope you like this recipe. There is a fair amount of work involved, but it’s well worth the effort, and if you have the opportunity, treat yourself to a portable pizza oven, (from Ooni or Roccbox) you will not regret it!
Before I go, I will leave you with some of my favourite ingredients and toppings that you can add to a simple Margherita, and trust me, they will take your pizzas, or any other dish to the next level of deliciousness.
Categories: Food, PizzaMill London, 9 months ago