What do you think of when you hear... "pizza"?
I think of the crust - thick and thin; I think of the Mozzarella cheese - how long one can pull the cheese without it breaking; I think of the toppings - from pepperoni to chicken to beef to vegetables to... and I think of how the world is made better with the invention of pizza - who doesn't love pizza?
So, I went to Google and found out that apparently, this lovely flat bread had its foundations laid by the early Greeks who first baked them and simply flavoured them with oil, herbs and spices. Then these flat breads made their way to Italy in the 18th century whereby they were sold on the streets and the markets. At that time, these pizzas were eaten plain without any fanciful toppings. As the pizzas were relatively cheap to made, tasty and filling, they became a popular food among the peasants.
I then wonder - how did that plain flat bread evolve into our topping-full pizza today?
And the answer is... Queen Margherita (yea, I Googled that up too).
In 1889, Queen Margherita was on an inspection tour of her Italian Kingdom. During the tour, she saw many people eating this flat bread and requested to try some. Upon trying, she fell in love with the bread and would eat it whenever she's out amongst her people. However, it was deemed by the Italian court that it was inappropriate for a Queen to dine on peasants' food.
But then, who can stop a Queen?
The Queen summoned Chef Rafaelle Esposito from his pizzeria to the royal palace to bake a selection of pizzas for her, and Chef Rafaelle made a very special pizza just for the Queen - a pizza topped with tomatoes, Mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. These three foods represented the three colours on the Italian flag - red, white and green. This pizza became Queen Margherita's favourite pizza and from then on, pizza with toppings became very popular among the Italian people. After World War II, pizza began to spread all over the world and became extremely popular - and this is the pizza we now know.
Wow, what a story, huh?
I've never ever baked a pizza from scratch before and I was so excited to make one after reading Pioneer Woman's CPK's BBQ Chicken Pizza. It seems so simple and so tasty. Well, the tasty part is definitely right, but the simple part... hmm, I would say it's not as simple as it seems. Look at the mess I made! I had added too much water into the dough, making it extremely sticky and refusing to cooperate. And I think I might have killed the yeast as the water is pretty hot when I added the yeast into it. I didn't see my pizza dough rise and I had to add a lot of flour in order to make the dough roll-able. It is kind of disastrous, isn't it?
As for the taste-wise, I think I didn't make the dough very well and is wasn't well-baked enough, and hence the pizza base has this floury taste that is not very... nice. I wonder what oven setting should I use to bake pizzas. Use both heaters on the top and bottom? Or just the bottom heater? Using both at such a high heat simply threatens to burn my toppings, but I'm worried that using just the bottom heater will burn the pizza base before the topping is cooked. There's definitely more room for improvement in this one.
The toppings I chose were almost similar to Pioneer Woman's - BBQ Chicken. However, I added some pineapples and mushrooms to give the pizza a more Hawaiian flavour. A yummy topping with a not-so-yummy pizza base - still passable I guess. Well, there's a first time for everything and though my first pizza making is pretty disastrous, it will definitely not be the last. However, I think it will take a pretty long while before I bake my next pizza from scratch... the mess is kinda unbearable. Haha.
With that, I will leave you with Pioneer Woman's Pizza recipe and a few tweaks of my own. Do try it out and let me know how it turned out for you! It may be disastrous for me, but may not be for you! (:
BBQ Chicken Pizza (makes ~4 9-inch thin-crust pizza)
adapted from Pioneer Woman's CPK's BBQ Chicken Pizza
1 teaspoon Instant or Active Dry Yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
400 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
⅓ cup olive oil
Sprinkle yeast over the 1 ½ cups of warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together 400 grams of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt. Drizzle in ⅓ cup of olive oil and stir until combined. Next, pour in the yeast-water mixture and mix until just combined and the dough comes together in a sticky mess. [I'm not sure how sticky it's supposed to be, because mine is very sticky! When I made mine again, I'll let you know, meanwhile, you can visit PW's site for the picture of the sticky messy dough! (:]
At this point I divide my dough into 4 portion and tightly wrap them in lightly oiled plastic wrap (2 layers) and stick them into the freezer. When I need a dough, I defrost the pizza dough in the fridge overnight. 2 hours before I want to use the dough, I take it out of the fridge and place it in a lightly oiled mixing bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it rest. However, if you are going to use the dough immediately, read on! (:
Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil and form a dough into a ball. Toss to coat the dough in olive oil then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it aside for 1 to 2 hours, or store in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
When you are ready to make the pizza, depending on how large your oven is and how big you want your pizza to be, grab a quarter or half or all of the pizza dough. [My oven is a very small oven and the maximum size that I can get is 9-inch, hence I grabbed only a quarter of the pizza dough.] Lightly flour your table counter and roll/stretch the dough until it's of your desired size. Transfer the pizza dough onto the baking sheet. Drizzle a little extra olive oil and sprinkle a little extra salt on the pizza dough. Top the dough with the toppings of your choice and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the toppings are bubbly.
Happy baking! (: