• Neapolitan pizza

    The Epicurean made this great discovery. The fresh pizza dough from Stadsbakker Meijer. Now he'll show you how to use it.

    One of the advantages of living in a small city like Groningen is that you can get to know the people responsible for the food you purchase and eat. One of the most interesting developments in the Groningen food scene these last few years has been the opening of the Stadsbakker Meijer, near the Harmonie building.

    The owner/baker, Wim Meijer, has been offering consistently excellent products, using both traditional and innovative recipes and processes. So it came as little surprise when he agreed to help me out on this new project, the development of ready-to-use, bake-at-home pizza dough!

    Now, you might ask why I want to make pizza at home, instead of picking up the phone to have it delivered. The answer is that it is better, cheaper and more fun to make at home, using ingredients that you know are top quality and suit your tastes perfectly. All you need is some dough, some sauce and a few toppings of your choice. You can make your own dough, of course, but Wim has made this much easier for all of us by offering dough in convenient, single-pizza portions for €1 each!

    So, go out and buy one of them, and follow the steps below to make the best pizza in Groningen, hands down!

    The dough

    About three hours before cooking the pizza, take the dough out of the fridge (and the bag) and place it on a well-floured surface. Cover the top of the dough with flour and shape it into a rough ball. Place this in a large, floured bowl and cover with a towel or cling film. Let the dough rise in a warm room for two hours. In the meantime, you can prepare the sauce and toppings.

    The sauce

    I favour using an uncooked sauce, as it will cook on the pizza anyway. It saves time and the taste is sweeter and more vibrant. Empty the can of tomatoes  into a fine sieve, remove the green stems and cut open the tomatoes. Let the water drain out of them for 15 minutes and then crush them roughly with a fork. Season them with salt and add a few shredded basil leaves.

    The Cheese and Toppings

    The cheese is, of course, always mozarella. Do not be tempted to use Dutch cheese; reserve that for other things. It has no place on pizza. To avoid a soggy pizza, slice the mozzarella in advance, drain the liquid off it and keep it in the fridge while the dough rises, so that it dries out. The toppings are your choice, but I can tell you my favourite is sliced wild mushrooms from the market, marinated for a few minutes in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper (about 100g per pizza).

    Cooking the Pizza

    Forty-five minutes before cooking, turn your oven on to its maximum temperature and let it heat up, with the oven rack just a bit higher than the middle. Professional pizza ovens reach temperatures of 800˚C, which we cannot recreate at home, but we can try our best by letting the oven heat up to its maximum. Place a metal roasting tray on the oven rack upside down, so that there is a smooth, flat surface for your pizza to cook on (the size of the pizza will of course depend on the size of the tray).

    Fifteen minutes before cooking, switch the oven to the grill setting, so that you can really use the tray’s temperature to its full effect. Now is the time to put everything together. Cut a piece of baking paper a bit larger than the pizza and cover it and your hands lightly with flour. Take the dough gently out of the bowl and flatten it while rotating it into a circular shape. Precision is not too important, as long as the circle is thin with a slightly thicker edge.

    Transfer the paper with the dough onto a wooden board (this helps you transfer the pizza to the oven) and cover the dough with a thin layer of sauce, leaving the edges dry. Sprinkle the Parmigiano-Reggiano and lay the slices of mozarella and toppings over it.

    Working quickly, turn off the grill, return the oven dial to the maximum temperature and slide the paper with the pizza onto the metal tray. Close the oven door and let the pizza cook for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and the edge of the pizza is slightly charred.

    When this is achieved, slide the pizza out onto the board and serve.

    Cost: €3 per pizza
    photo: Jeroen van Kooten