In another lifetime, I ran a pizza stall with a pal of mine at Eveleigh Markets in Sydney. We’d be up until 1am each Saturday morning, making pizza dough and tomato sauce and prepping all the toppings, then would be off to the markets at 5am. Our first attempt at making masses of dough resulted in what came to be known as the ‘Yeast Beast’.
It was a warm night in the kitchen, and we’d ambitiously made about 15 batches of dough, which we’d portioned into 300 individual balls, then boxed into Tupperware containers. When we ran out of room in the fridge, we started stacking the boxes on the floor (yep, our OH&S practises were supreme). A couple of hours later, we realised that the yeast was still bredding, and we now had overflowing boxes of bubbly, sticky dough oozing out everywhere. We sold about 60 pizzas that first day, far short of our lofty ambitions of 300! But we kept it up for about four months, until the early morning starts and meagre financial gain made us hang up our aprons for good.
Honestly, years passed before I made pizza from scratch again. But here it is, in all its yeasty glory.
2 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves
400g tin crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp sugar
1 ball buffalo mozzarella
Pancetta or prosciutto
The Yeast Beast
7g sachet or 1 heaped tsp dry active yeast
Pinch of sugar
600g strong plain flour
1 tbs salt
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs milk
A KitchenAid or other stand mixer with a dough hook makes like work of the dough, but if you don’t have one, old-fashioned kneading by hand will do the trick.
To make the dough, combine 400ml warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl, stir then set aside for 5-10 minutes until frothy. Place the flour, salt, oil and milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the yeast mixture, then beat on high for 7-9 minutes until the dough is stretchy and elastic. Turn out onto a floured bench and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel, the stick the bowl in a warm spot to prove for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 200°C. Meanwhile, to make the pizza sauce, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir for 2 minutes until fragrant and lightly golden, then add the tomatoes and sugar and simmer, stirring, for 15-20 minutes until thick. Allow to cool.
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch down to remove some of the air, then turn it out onto a floured board. Knead again for a few minutes, then roll or stretch by hand into your desired shapes. You should be able to get 2 large or 6 small pizzas from this quantity. Spread the pizza bases with tomato sauce, then top with torn mozzarella and pancetta. Bake for 7 minutes or until the base is golden and the cheese is melted, then garnish with basil leaves and serve.