Perhaps pizza is not the most traditional product of Le Marche, but after my trip back in December, I can reassure you of two facts. The first is that you can have amazing pizza over there anyway. And the second and most exciting thing is that you can learn how to make it and make it yourself!
After a nice walk in the centre of Ancona during a beautiful but chilli day, we went back home at about five, determined to learn from master Mario all the secrets about pizza! Mario is a wizard of handmade cooking and being originally from Naples makes him stand out as a “pizzaiolo”…after a brief chat and introduction the team was ready!
Pizza is a simple thing and I believe it is its simplicity and genuine nature that make it such a good dish. To have a good start you need to mix flour (previously mixed with a bit of salt and sugar) with water, in which you will have dissolved the fresh yeast (no powder please!)
You can find yourself the right mix of flour and water that make the loaf soft and smooth. However I found that a mix of 450g of flour with 250g of water is just a perfect mix. I have added about 10g of fresh yeast every 450g of flour (though Mario told me that this also depends on the room temperature and the time you want to allow for rising). It is a magic (though sticky) feeling to have your hands in there. Flour, water and yeast are bread, and bread is life ever since!
At the end, after some efforts, you should get a nice, soft loaf ready for rising…
It takes about an hour or two for the loaf to double its size, depending on the temperature and the amount of yeast you’ve used. It is a good habit – says Mario – to cover it with a dishcloth to ensure that the loaf doesn’t dry on the outside…
In the meantime, we started preparing the ingredients we would have used, tasty tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive oil for the main. You can then add other ingredients, such as vegetable, sausages, and so forth, though the Italian tradition is for a simple pizza!
Wow! I am afraid you won’t be able to smell the freshness of the ingredients, however I could do it and at some point I just couldn’t help!!
Just a quick break, as Mario called me back to order…the loaf was ready…et voilà!
It was now time for the loaf to be laid on the tray and this time I decided to step back and let the master do the hard work! What a mastery, bravo!
After laying the pizza on the tray, it was time to add the tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil…we indulged a bit and decided also to stuff the borders with some ricotta cheese. We also decided to make a few “calzoni”, which is a special pizza stuffed with tomato, mozzarella and anything else you want to put inside!
Before you put the pizza in the oven for cooking – says master Mario – you want to give some more time, typically half an hour or an hour, to allow a second and final rising. Finally it was time to put the pizza in the oven, at 250°C to 300°C and see what would come out…
Wow, I couldn’t believe that some flour and water could have turned out into such an amazing, crispy and rich pizza in just a few hours! And I had done it myself. What a pleasure to sit down and eat your own pizza, the one you’ve made with your own efforts.
Although a nice beer it is an evergreen combination, I found that a rather young red wine, like a Marche Rosso IGT from a native grape of Montepulciano, can accompany this kind of meals pretty well…but obviously this is ultimately the choice of the diner…
Such an amazing and authentic experience was it, making my own pizza in Le Marche!