Food and drink: A pizza of bread

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Indy Lifestyle Online
WE CLOSE our series on pizza today by adhering to the less-is-more principle. Pauline Walker (nee Buonocore) writes from Cambridge: 'As my father's family originated in Italy, I grew up with pizza. When American-style pizza parlours started to spring up all over the country, I was very startled to see they all produced pizzas with cheese as a main ingredient. I'd never eaten pizza with cheese before.'

Pizza need not, to be sure, contain cheese. It is nothing more than seasoned bread, leavened high or leavened low. You can top it with whatever you like. Some toppings are more oven-friendly than others. Mushrooms, for instance, dry out.

What too many people seem to over-complicate is the base. So, for this final recipe, I turned to a pro. He is Giovanni Mortellaro, the Sicilian pizza chef of Buona Sera, 22-24 Northcote Road, London SW11 (071-228 9925), and he makes superb pizza crusts.

The art, according to Buona Sera, is using simply flour, salt, water, yeast and a dash of olive oil. 'We do it as it is supposed to be done: there are no strange ingredients.'

Mr Mortellaro measures salt by the palm of his hand, and makes dough using 10 kilos of flour at a go. He roughly estimated the quantities, which I have adjusted for one modest pizza and give below. The topping is for garlic pizza bread as (more or less) served at Buona Sera.

Mr Mortellaro will receive a bottle of 1986 Chianti Classico Felsina Berardenga from Winecellars in south London.

Buona Sera Garlic Pizza Bread

Serves 2-4 as snack

Ingredients: 5oz/140g strong white flour

4oz/115g lukewarm water

1/2 tsp salt, plus extra to season

1/4 oz/7g fresh yeast

pinch sugar

1 plump clove garlic, finely chopped

2tbs finely chopped parsley

1/4 tsp fresh oregano, minced

3tbs extra virgin olive oil

finely ground sea salt

Preparation: In a large mixing bowl, cream yeast in water and sugar. Let stand for five minutes. Sift in flour, 1/2 tsp salt. Add 1tbs olive oil. Blend, then tip on to a well floured board. Flour hands and knead briskly until dough is supple. If the dough is very tacky, throw down a little extra flour. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm or a damp cloth and let rise for one hour in a warm place. Blend 2tbs olive oil, garlic and parsley into a paste. Preheat oven to 225C/425F/gas 7. Punch down dough and roll out into a circle, about 10in in diameter. Place in oiled and floured baking pan. Rest for 10 minutes and brush with paste. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot.

Next week, the first of our series of cooking with pork. New entries, stating the source of the recipe, are still welcome. Send them to Emily Green, Recipe, Weekend Features, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. The prize will be a bottle of Hugel Gewurztraminer Jubilee Reserve Personnelle 1986 from Reid Wines in Bristol.