Rome recipe: How to make Pizza Margherita

How to make great pizza at home using a domestic kitchen oven

Making your own pizza from scratch is a surefire way to impress and is a fun activity to do with friends and family. This recipe is a simple way to make great pizza at home using a domestic kitchen oven and, while the result may not be exactly like a real Roman pizzeria, it allows you to unleash your creativity and add whatever toppings you choose.

Although the process of making the dough and leaving it to rise takes a while, this can be done in advance, so the actual topping and cooking of the pizza takes a matter of minutes. Cooking the base by itself for a few minutes before turning it over and adding the toppings will ensure a crunchy, non-soggy, crust, as will draining as much liquid as possible out of the mozzarella before using.

The quantities below will make enough pizza for about 4 people, but you can use whatever size and shape of metal baking tin you have at home.

For the base:
500g flour 00
1 x 7g sachet of dried yeast
3 pinches of salt
1 pinch of sugar
350ml water
Extra virgin olive oil

For the topping:
4 x 250g balls of mozzarella (fior di latte)
1 large jar of tomato passata
Fresh basil leaves

Sieve the flour into a large bowl. Add the yeast, salt and sugar and pour in the water. Mix everything together with a fork, once the dough starts to come together, tip it onto a floured board or work surfaced. Continue to knead with your hands, constantly pushing the dough back onto itself, until you have a soft, elastic consistency. If the dough is too wet, add a little flour; if it is too dry add a little more water or a drop of olive oil.

In a clean bowl pour in about 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Place the ball of dough into the bowl, cover with plastic cling film and put the bowl into the oven (turned off) or a dark cupboard. Leave it to prove for at least 3 hours until the dough has doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, tip it back onto a floured surface along with the oil. Knead it well until the texture is smooth and soft. Divide the dough into pieces (the size depends on the baking tins you have and how thick you want the base of your pizza) and leave it to rest while you prepare the topping. Turn the oven on to heat to its highest temperature.

Pour the passata into a bowl, add a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt and mix well. Cut the mozzarella into cubes and use your hands to squeeze out as much liquid as possible to ensure that the pizza will not be soggy.

Grease the baking tins with olive oil. Push the dough into the tins using your hands, try not to create any holes.

Put the pizza into the lowest part of the oven and cook for 5-8 minutes then turn the base over in the tin. Spread the passata over the pizza and add some mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil then place the pizza back into the low shelf of the oven for about 5 more minutes until the edges are crispy and the mozzarella has melted. Add a few fresh basil leaves and serve immediately.

By Kate Zagorski

Kate Zagorski, who has lived in Italy since 2000. Married to a food-obsessed Roman chef, she leads food tours and also works as a freelance food and travel writer.