I’ve made pizza a few times at home, but never been completely satisfied with the results. So -thanks to my wife – I went along to a pizza workshop at Bread Ahead in Pavillion Road in Chelsea.
It was a brilliant class. The instructor, Kevin, a Yorkshireman who learnt all about baking when he spent three years in the south of France, took us through all the steps in the pizza process. Once we had made the dough, he showed us how to stretch it by repeatedly slapping it hard on the table for about 8 minutes.
Something I hadn’t heard of before in pizza making was poolish, a mixture of water, sea salt, flour and yeast. It’s known in bakery terms as a starter, a term associated with sour dough, and is made the day before and then added to your dough mix. Also, Kevin used strong white bread flour, not 00 flour.
The pizza turned out to have lovely chewy texture, which I assume was down to the poolish. We also made garlic dough balls and grissini (bread sticks), which were both equally good.
What I came away with more than anything was confidence. I’ve always found this is what cookery classes give you. When you see a professional make something in the kitchen, it demystifies the process and you think, “Yeah, you know, actually it’s not that difficult.” And pizza isn’t. It only has four ingredients plus whatever toppings you decide to use.
So I’ll now be making pizza regularly at home. And I’ll enjoy slapping the dough.