Puttanesca has always been one of my favourite pasta sauces – strong and gutsy, with lots of flavour – then one inspired day I decided to try it on a pizza base instead. The result is brilliant, with the added charm of pools of Mozzarella and crusty bread.
Sufficient for a 10 inch (25.5 cm) base pizza – serves 2
This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book One and Delia's Complete How To Cook
Begin by warming the flour slightly in the oven for about 10 minutes, then turn the oven off.
Sift the flour, salt, yeast and sugar into a bowl and make a well in the centre of the mixture, then add the olive oil and pour in 4 fl oz (120 ml) hand-hot water. Now mix to a dough, starting off with a wooden spoon and using your hands in the final stages of mixing. Wipe the bowl clean with the dough, adding a spot more water if there are any dry bits left, and transfer it to a flat work surface (there shouldn't be any need to flour this).
Knead the dough for 3 minutes or until it develops a sheen and blisters under the surface (it should also be springy and elastic). You can now either leave the dough on the surface covered by the upturned bowl or transfer the dough to a clean bowl and cover it with clingfilm that has been lightly oiled on the side that is facing the dough. Leave it until it looks as though it has doubled in bulk, which will be about an hour at room temperature.
Meanwhile make the sauce: heat the oil in a medium saucepan, then add the garlic and chilli and cook briefly until the garlic is pale gold. Then add all the other sauce ingredients, stir and season with a little pepper – but no salt because of the anchovies. Turn the heat to low and let the sauce simmer very gently without a lid for 40 minutes, by which time it will have reduced to a lovely, thick mass with very little liquid left.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8, 450°F (230°C), along with the pizza stone or baking sheet.
The next stage is to tip the dough back on to a work surface that has been sprinkled generously with polenta to prevent it from sticking. Knock all the air out of the dough and knead it for a couple of seconds to begin shaping it into a ball. Then dust your rolling pin with polenta and roll the dough out to a circle that is approximately 10 inches (25.5 cm) in diameter. Then finish stretching it out with your hands, working from the centre and using the flat of your fingers to push the dough out; it doesn't need to be a perfect round, but you want it to be a fairly thin-based pizza, with slightly raised edges. Place the uncooked base to one side.
Then, using a thick oven glove, very carefully lift the baking sheet or pizza stone out of the oven and sprinkle it with the polenta (cornmeal). Spread the sauce over the pizza base, taking it up to the raised edge, then carefully lift it on to the hot baking sheet or pizza stone.
Now scatter the Mozzarella over, then dip the basil leaves in the olive oil and place them here and there on top. Bake the pizza on a high shelf for 10-12 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and crusty.
Use an oven glove to remove it from the oven, then garnish with the extra basil.
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