The ultimate margherita pizza

The ultimate margherita pizza
  • Serves icon Makes 2 x 30cm pizzas
  • Time icon Hands-on time 40 min, oven time 10-11 min, plus rising and proving

The heady aromas of this much-loved Italian dish will fill your kitchen and transform your home into a Neapolitan pizzeria. This margherita will leave you wanting slice after slice.

Nutrition: per serving

Calories
602kcals
Fat
24.8g (11.9g saturated)
Protein
25g
Carbohydrates
63g (5.2g sugars)
Fibre
4.3g
Salt
1.2g
Calories
602kcals
Fat
24.8g (11.9g saturated)
Protein
25g
Carbohydrates
63g (5.2g sugars)
Fibre
4.3g
Salt
1.2g

Per ½ pizza

Ingredients

  • 3 shallots, very finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 100ml red wine
  • Bunch fresh basil, leaves picked, half chopped, half left whole
  • Few fresh oregano sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
  • 350g tomato passata
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (or Henderson’s Relish for vegetarians)
  • ¼ tsp caster sugar
  • 300g grated mozzarella

For the dough

  • 3.5g fast-action dried yeast
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to oil, fry and drizzle
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp caster sugar
  • 170g lukewarm water
  • 300g strong white bread flour, plus extra to dust

You’ll also need… 

  • 2 large baking sheets and a stick blender

Method

  1. For the dough, mix the yeast, oil, salt and sugar in a measuring jug, add the warm water and stir. Leave to stand for 10 minutes, then stir again.
  2. Put the flour in a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast mixture and stir into the flour. When it starts to become a dough, use your hands to bring it together.
  3. Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and springy. The dough is ready when it springs back quickly when pressed.
  4. Put the dough in a large oiled bowl and cover the top with cling film. Leave in a warm place for 1 hour or until roughly doubled in size.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, fry the shallots in a glug of oil for 8-10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes, then turn up the heat, add the wine and bubble for 5 minutes to reduce by half. Add the chopped herbs (set aside the whole basil leaves) along with the passata, sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes to make a rich sauce. Taste, season and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
  6. Using a stick blender, whizz the sauce until smooth. Heat the oven to 240°C/220°C fan/gas 9. Put a baking sheet in the oven.
  7. On a clean work surface knead the dough a few times to knock it back (remove any air pockets). Divide in half and cover one piece in cling film. Roll out the other half to a 30cm circle, then repeat with the other piece of dough.
  8. Using the rolling pin to help, carefully lift a circle of dough onto the cold, lightly floured baking sheet. Spoon 2-3 tbsp of the sauce on top, spread it nearly to the edge, then scatter over half the grated mozzarella. Drizzle with a little oil,  then carefully slide the pizza from the floured baking sheet onto the hot baking sheet and bake for 10-11 minutes until the base has cooked through and the cheese is golden and bubbling. Repeat with the other base. Scatter with the reserved whole basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil if you like.

delicious. tips

  1. You can knead the dough (step 3) in a stand mixer with a dough hook on medium speed for 5-8 minutes.

  2. Make the dough up to 2 hours ahead, wrap in cling film and chill. An hour before cooking, take the dough out of the fridge to let it come up to room temperature. Make the sauce up to 48 hours ahead and keep in a sealed container in the fridge.

  3. There are two classic Naples pizzas: marinara has a thin, crisp base topped with fresh tomato passata and dotted with garlic and oregano; margherita has the same base topped with fresh tomato passata, mozzarella and fresh basil. We found that a mix of both varieties with a cooked tomato sauce – and some Worcestershire sauce (controversial!) – was a winner.

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