When we wanted to learn how to make true authentic Italian pizzas, we knew just who to call... Chef Diana Testa, owner of Italian Cooking Lessons and fabulous cooking instructor. She teamed up with Patio & Pizza Outdoor Furnishings in 2019 to offer her authentic Italian expertise along with pizza oven demonstrations, training videos, and cooking classes to our community.
Today, Diana joined me on my patio to show me how to make the best pizza dough to cook in my wood-fired oven. And, luckily, when making lots of dough, you get to cook lots of scrumptious Italian cuisine to test!
Starting The Fire
First, we started a fire in my pizza oven so we could bring the cooking space to the correct temperature. The fire was easily started in the oven using premium starter from Cutting Edge Firewood.
Making The Dough
While the oven was warming up, Diana showed me how to make pizza dough with instant yeast. She said she typically would use yeast to make the dough rise but she uses the instant yeast method when she doesn't have time for the dough to rise or when she's cooking with children as they want to make pizzas NOW.
Today's easy pizza dough recipe included the following ingredients:
- 1-1/2 Cups Water
- 1 Teaspoon Sugar
- 1 Packet Instant Dry Yeast
- 3-1/2 cups Caputo Tipo "00" Flour
- 2-3 TableSpoons Bertolli Extra Virgin Oil
- 1 Pinch salt
Rolling The Dough
The next step to making the perfect pizza is rolling out your dough. Chef Diana showed us how to roll out her Italian dough and then added the perfect ingredients for a traditional Margherita pizza. Diana uses a thin crust pizza dough recipe as she shows in the video.
Here is the transcript from the video on rolling the pizza dough:
It is time to roll out. So first thing that we have to do is get your dough and do maybe four or five little balls and always keep your counter floured because it's important that it doesn't stick. So I have already cut two out. How do we use a rolling pin? Seems obvious, but it's not obvious. So I see most of the people doing like this while you want to keep your rolling thing. This is why we have handles from the side. Good rolling pins are marble rolling pins and sometime even bottles of wine. Can you believe me? You can use even a bottle of wine to roll. So this size will help us to put on this board this amount. So I will aim for around one.
I'm not going to do the toss though. So every time that you roll it, you have to start from the center and twist it and twist it. So it's a very gradual, so I'm going to teach you the Italian pizza that is very thin. So I'm going to roll, you see, every time I roll in different directions and I make sure that it doesn't stick. In my opinion, now it is sticking a bit, so you add flour.
Your hand should never stick to it. And again, I add flour. I love to the smell of the wood at my back. It is amazing.
So you are going and remember, we are aiming for a round one then I can teach you ways to also to do shapes. So you always start from the center and you go left and you go, right. And if it sticks, like now, means it needs more flour. There we go. You see how stretchable it is. This is because of this flour. That it's an amazing flour.
The most thing that I've been asked is don't you cook your sauce? Of course not. You don't cook your pizza sauce before you put it. You want a raw pizza sauce and you don't put anything underneath. So first step is putting the tomato sauce and totally up to you if you want a big crust, you don't want any crust, do you want a lot of tomato or you want little tomato? So, this is kind of your choice. I normally drizzle a little bit of oil, so that gets the extra taste. And then I put mozzarella. I drizzle a very good extra Virgin olive oil as well, you are going to go round. Perfect.
And then I'm going to grab my mozzarella that is here. And my favorite is actually a burrata. There is a fresh mozzarella with a very tender heart, but today I am going to use this mozzarella and down it goes.
So this is convenient because it's shredded. So it is a very tender. So this is a pizza Margherita that it recalls from Regina Margherita because Regina Margherita wanted the pizza one day and then they also add Basil to it and they made the Italian flag. So this is how the pizza Margherita is called. So maybe in another video, I'll tell you some curiosity about the names of the pizza in Italy. Okay. So we are ready now and in a little bit to put it in our beautiful oven.
Cooking The Pizza
We waited until the temperature in the pizza oven was near 750 degrees. Then, we put the pizza in the oven. It makes it much easier to put your pizza in the oven if you put flour or cornmeal on the peel before putting your dough on the peel. This helps the pizza slide off the peel better.
After putting in the Margherita pizza, we create another masterpiece pie with pesto and artichokes. Diana decided to put this one in the pizza oven herself.
To determine if your pizza is ready, take a look at the crust as explained below.
With a hot fire and extra dough, we continued making and baking. Deciding what to make with pizza dough was easy with the pizza dough recipe we used. What do you do with extra dough? You make focaccia of course! We used Rosemary and Extra Virgin Olive Oil for our focaccia. Focaccia is extremely popular in Italy and apparently the most sold for kids.
The best part of cooking pizza is seeing it come out of the oven bubbling with an aroma that only comes from being baked in an authentic wood burning oven.
Although I'm personally a vegetarian and no longer indulge on the mighty meat pizza, I would be remiss if we didn't make at least one pepperoni pizza. It is well-known that pepperoni is a favorite pizza topping in the USA. However, Diana told me something about pepperoni in Italy that will make you change the way you order when you visit.
Overall, this was such a terrific day. I had such a great time making dough, pizzas, focaccia, and calzones with Diana. The lessons learned are too many to count so I'm looking forward to another day on the patio with Chef Diana at the helm!