Traditional Pizza Making Tips From 'Pizza Party' Chef Simone Franchi

Pizza Party is a mobile pizza catering service that provides stone based Italian pizzas for parties and corporate functions. We recently caught up with the company's founder Simone Franchi and asked him how to create the perfect pizza. Here are his tips.

Simone Franchi has been in the professional pizza making business for ten years. His company Pizza Party follows the Tuscan Artisan approach to bread making, which involves taking time to prepare a slow rising dough. His pizzas are cooked directly onto the stone of a mobile wood fired pizza oven while clients mill around salivating at the aromas (we speak from experience.)

Below are Franchi's best pizza-making tips, along with the company's recipe for a traditional pizza base.

Rule #1: Keep it simple!

“Less is more! The tomato sauce and mozzarella should be the most prominent ingredients. Some people like to use lots of toppings but this causes the dough [in the middle] to take longer to rise which makes the crust dry out too much.

"Pizza Party never puts more than three ingredients on top of a pizza, apart from the tomato and mozzarella. I prefer Margherita [tomato, sliced mozzarella, basi] which is the original and in my opinion, the best.”

Rule #2: Use 'Grade A' ingredients

"Using top quality ingredients really makes a difference to how the pizza tastes: it might cost a little more but it is worth it. For the sauce, Italian San Marzano tomatoes are traditional, but you can also use whole peeled tomato in a can — just don't get the cheapest ones you can find!"

Rule #3: Thick base < Thin base

“Thick, deep pan-style pizzas are too doughy. Keep your base thin in the middle and a little thicker around the edges to form a crust for enhanced flavour."

Rule #4: Making good pizzas takes time

"Many pizzas are full of yeast which gives a very short time of rising. The dough needs to rest for at least eight hours with 24 hours being ideal."

Rule #5 Share the love!

"We came up with the idea for Pizza Party when we were making pizzas for old and new friends, cooking and teaching them the alchemy of dough rising. We noticed how much fun the experience was; it become an interactive tasting party. Pizza making is always more fun when you are doing it with friends!"

Traditional pizza base recipe

Ingredients: (The ingredients are proportioned to 1 lt of water, if you do more or less dough work in this proportion.)

  • Water: 1 lt
  • Sea Salt: 50-55 g
  • Fresh yeast: 3 g or Dry yeast: 7 g
  • 00 Flour: 1,700/1,800g

Preparation:

  • In a deep bowl, combine the yeast with the water at the temperature of 25 C. Leave it for 5 minutes, add the salt then stir through.
  • Add half of the total flour to the water and stir with a wooden spoon. When it is mixed together keep adding half of the flour remaining, stir trough then add the rest of the flour and keep stirring.
  • At this stage you will have to empty the mix onto a bench or board and start kneading the dough by hand. Use all the reaming flour in the bowl and mix it through.
  • Using both your hands, flip the dough folding inwards. Keep kneading for 10 minutes until your fingers donʼt stick to the dough anymore. If you need to add little bit more flour you can, but you donʼt want your dough to be too dry. At this stage the dough should be elastic and soft.
  • Rising:

  • Cover the dough with a damp cloth so that there is no air passing through (you can also put the dough in a clean plastic bag) but leave enough space for the rising, as it will rise!
  • Leave it to rest for at least 2 hours.
  • The next step is to make the dough balls. They can be between 180-250 g. You have to do them by hand. You should be able to make from 12 to 16 balls.
  • Put the balls in an air tight container and leave them to rest for 6 hours.
  • Baking:

  • Put a dough ball on the bench, flour it then flatten it with your finger tips, starting from the edge using a round motion, towards the center, so that you get a little disk. Now you can use your rolling pin or you can flatten it by hand, which is preferred.
  • Once you make a disk of about 30 cm, put it in a greased tray and push the dough to the edge of the tray, giving it a nice roundness and without letting it flip over the edge.
  • With a spoon place the tomato sauce leaving a little edge for the crust to happen. put the tomato in the middle of the disc and spread it outwards making a spiral design..3-4 table spoon should do.
  • Place some mozzarella (sliced mozzarella block is preferred than grated but do what you can) on top of the tomato. Put the oven on full strength. minimum 250 C, max 420 C.
  •  

    Pizza Party offers a range of services ranging from kid's 'Bambini" parties to corporate events and weddings. For more information, head to their website.

    Do you have a signature pizza recipe of your own? Share your culinary creations in the comments section below!

    See also: 5 Cooking Tips From Master Chef Giovanni Pilu | Cook A Pizza Without An Oven | How To Cook And Eat A Placenta Pizza


Comments

    "you can also use whole peeled tomato in a can — just don’t get the cheapest ones you can find!”

    Indeed! Buy SPC Ardmona tomatoes, good quality Aussie grown. Support our growers.

    That recipe makes a lot of dough! Can you freeze dough and defrost it as needed?

      Yes you can freeze no issues there at all. Just freeze after making you dough balls.

      I'm making pizza dough literally in an hour for some Friday pizza fun, perfect timing for this post.
      I'd recommend the Jamie Oliver recipe also, very foolproof and a good start.

      http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/recipe/pizza-dough

    I must be a bit of a heretic but I love using a sweet chilli sauce base and chicken topping.
    Mmmmm.

    1,800 Kg of flour to 1l water? That's gonna be one DRY Dough...

    I'd say that 8 hours to make a pizza dough makes it pretty inaccessible to most.

    I do my dough in the kenwood chef, 1 cup of flour per person with around .6 of a cup of water, 1 tsp of yeast + salt and a little olive oil. Knead for 10 mins, rest for 30-45 mins and then roll. May not be as good as a 8 hour dough, but much more suited to a busy household.

    Oven goes on at full bore. Remember to put the pizza stones in when you turn the oven on. They need around 30 mins to properly heat up.

    Cheese goes at the bottom - big mistake many make is putting the cheese on last. Mine often get a small sprinkle of mozzarella on top if using the grated stuff. (Sliced is better).

    I don't use a pizza tray. I make mine on a piece of baking paper, which allows easy transfer to the pizza stone. Does stop the stone from absorbing some of the moisture, but still get very good results.

    Is it just me or does that seem like a not-so-healthy-butt-load of salt?

    Ahhh, someone who knows how much cheese (that is, NOT shiploads of it) belongs on a pizza. My local pizza place changed from its light-on-the-cheese approach to a trying-to-beat-Dominos-and-Pizza-Hut-at-the-game-of-overdoing-cheese and lost me as a customer as a result.

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