Pizza.

According to many accounts, the Pizza as we know it today was invented in Naples sometime in the third quarter of the 19th century, but in fact something like it had been around for centuries, perhaps even millennia. The ancient Romans had what they called Placenta [literally = a cake], which was a piece of flat bread topped with cheese, garlic and rosemary, and sounds suspiciously like our item, but Naples claims it for its own, and it has become the best-known of Italian cuisine. Thanks to the Italian Diaspora, pizza are now made in almost every corner of the world and come in a whole galaxy of varieties, some of which bear little resemblance to the old Neapolitan creation. My offering is probably quite close to the original.

Ingredients.

1 teaspoon yeast.

1/3 cup water.

1 cup plain flour.

1 teaspoon salt.

Topping.

Tomato paste.

1 cup grated mozzarella*.

1 handful chopped fresh origanum.

¼ cup finely diced bacon.

¼ cup finely diced capsicum.

¼ cup chopped olives.

Method.

Add a little warm water to the yeast and allow to begin to work. Mix the flour and salt together and top up the yeast mixture with warm water to one third of a cup. Add to the flour and mix thoroughly with a spatula. Work the flour and water into a rough ball and knead for six or seven minutes until the dough is thoroughly consistent. It should be elastic but not sticky. Cover and leave in a warm place for 2-3 hours, until approximately three times its original size.

Preheat the oven to 240°C. Lightly oil a 225mm pizza pan. Flatten the dough into a disc and place on the pan, pushing the dough to the edges. Smear a quantity of tomato paste over the dough, sprinkle with the cheese, then the basil, then the bacon and the capsicum, then sprinkle with the olives. Flatten with your hand and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, slip it onto a board, cut into eight slices and serve at once.

Yields: 1 225mm pizza pie.

Variations. Traditional variations include: Pizza Margherita [Mozzarella cheese, basil and tomato], Pizza Capricciosa, [Mozzarella, artichokes, ham, mushroom, tomato, olives], Pizza Quattro Formaggi [= Four Cheeses; Mozzarella, Stracchino, Gorgonzola, Fontina], and Pizza Quattro Stagioni [= Four Seasons; divide the pizza into four across a tomato base, using ham, artichokes, olives, mushrooms], but basically only the sky is the limit.

*. Or any cheese you like. I use grated Edam with a dash of Parmesan.

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