Pizza, faith and painting

Saturday afternoon, and a pleasant 29C or so here in Accra, after a rainy night. Laundry is drying, and the windows are open to air out after painting touchups. Andy the painter chatted and painted. “Do you go to church? Why not?” He goes to Winner’s Chapel on Spintex and is very enthusiastic. Faith and church are really important here, and very present in daily life. Being culturally Lutheran but not practicing, more low-key and less church-bound is my preference. No shouting, no speaking in tongues. “But what about the power of joining together in prayer?” asked Andy, a bit puzzled. I fed him pizza and wished him a happy Easter.

Pizza for Andy: tomato and cheese (Bonci style)
This is a Gabriele Bonci dough recipe, his pizza is amazing! We make it a lot.

500 grammes plain wheat flour (I used 00, though 0 is recommended)
20 grammes olive oil
3.5 grammes dry yeast (I used 8 grammes fresh yeast)
350 grammes water
Later: 10 grammes salt.

2-3 tbs oil, to oil the baking parchment

3 tbs tomato paste, thinned out with 3 tbs water
A half teaspoon of smoked paprika
Enough grated cheese to sprinkle over tomato layer ( I added some Egyptian feta to eke out my cheese)

Mix dough ingredients, leave for an hour, then fold in salt. Leave dough to rise 6-7 hours at room temperature. You can also leave it overnight in the fridge, 24 hours there is recommended. Here, after three hours at room temperature, it was bubbling and doubled. Dough will rise and become gloopy and elastic. It needs to be handled carefully, to keep the air bubbles in the dough. No rolling pins here.

When you have the dough coaxed out on oiled parchment (or a silicon mat): top with grated cheese. Heat the baking tray in oven and carefully slide parchment with pizza over when oven is hot. Then bake at 250C until done (12-15 minutes? Depends on your oven) and enjoy.

Not my pizza: this is pizza all’ metro from Rome last month. Seriously, a metre of pizza, three toppings possible. Quite a challenge to transport in a tiny elevator without toppings sliding off.

Here, I managed to double the flour in the dough this morning, wondering why it felt so dry. Note to self: have morning coffee BEFORE measuring flour. So I added double of everything else, squashing out the worst lumps, and now have dough half #2 parked in fridge for tomorrow. Maybe roast aubergine and ricotta salata on that? Hmmmm….. I head to Rome for Easter to see my husband, so any carefully hoarded Italian food is now fair game. After a sudden vomiting bug this week (arrrgghhh), a simple pizza was restorative.

Enjoy your weekend!

Update, with better explanations (sorry about not linking to this, my laptop charger just fried so this is written on phone and ipad….) Yes, this is a large baking sheet size pizza. from

“I washed and chopped the broccoli into florets, and boiled them until slightly al dente. Take the skins of the sausages and chop into large pieces, and fry then off. This is optional, you could just pop the uncooked sausage meat onto the pizza but the pizza is slightly less greasy this way

imageMy husband is the pizza master here, and after experimenting, he uses oiled baking parchment. Bonci presses the dough out into an oiled baking tray, but our IKEA oven barely gets to 250C so we pre-heat the oven tray and slide the dough over using the parchment. Here, the dough is just poured out, then eased out using fingers to stretch into a rectangle. The darker bits are just streaks of smoked salt. You want to keep the air bubbles, so gentle is the way to go.

When you have the dough stretched out: top with grated cheese. We found a mystery cheese with peperoncino in the freezer (possibly a pecorino) which worked well here. We toss extra cheese in the freezer before holidays, and excavate it months later and hope for the best. Dot on the sausages and broccoli florets, with chilli flakes if you wish. Then bake at 250C until done (8-12 minutes? Depends on your oven) and enjoy.

My husband does all kinds of topping variations, depending what is in the house: often vegetarian. Patatas bravas, with potato and paprika; roast vegetables; pesto and mozzarella; cheese and onions; tomato and mozzarella; Thai chilli chicken……. All good in different ways: choose the toppings you like. This is a great dough to work from, it is buoyant and tasty. Good for weeknight cooking, as you can do the dough prep the night before, and the toppings can be assembled while the oven heats up. I love thin crunchy Roman pizza, but this one is very good too.”


8 thoughts on “Pizza, faith and painting

  1. We have been experimenting with pizza at home. The first trial, in January, I had a new pizza stone and armed with the NY Times dough recipe, proceeded to make pizzas that tasted good but were shaped like the state of Maryland or maybe Delaware. Not pretty. Then I discovered my 48-hour refrigerator-rise dough was supposed to be “proofed” for a couple of hours at room temp to make the dough workable. Duh!

    So this week we tried again. Ric wanted pizza for his birthday on Thursday so I made the dough on Tuesday. I dutifully took it out to proof and it was easier to work with. I found a delightful video on YouTube about proofing, pounding, and stretching and followed the steps easily enough. NOt quite round, but not an-irregular mass either, I slid the dough onto the pizza peel, dusted with flour as the video recommended. (In January I used cornmeal with good success in the sliding-off-the-peel department.) Ugh! The flour did not work! The pizza stuck miserably to the peel. We ended up folding it calzone-style and dumping it unceremoniously onto parchment to bake. This was a sausage/roasted red pepper/sundried tomato combo with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. Tasty, but ugly and too much flour on the crust due to the mishandling.

    Pizza #2 this week came out better: smoked salmon, gorgonzola, and rocket with mozzarella. The cornmeal allowed it to slide nicely, although I still need to work on getting the dough even. The center was thin, the edges a bit too Neopolitan for me. The crust did not brown well, as we can only crank the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit or we end up with smoke detectors blaring.

    So, we are committed to trying again. Perhaps risk the 500 degree F oven with windows wide open. I’d like to try your dough. How do you shape it? Assuming a rectangle alla pizza a taglia? Do you simply punch it out with your fingers versus doing any stretching? Do you think a pizza stone is a good idea or maybe just a rimmed sheet with parchment?

    Now that I have written this to you, I think I need to blog about my pizza experimentation. I have some revolting pictures. 🙂

    1. Thank you for sharing! I imagine that this is really frustrating, so good on you for keeping going. I added some more details in the post above.

      I like the Bonci recipe because it’s very easy to work with, also with stiff fingers, and the flavour and texture are great. You can slow it down with fridge retardation. It does not need much work, just time: you knead it when mixing flour water yeast oil, then fold in salt after an hour. Nothing after that. You just leave it to become a gelatinous, bubbly very loose dough. Use a bowl with lots of space to rise. Recipe uses dry yeast and with fresh yeast yesterday it was oozing out of the bowl. Less fresh yeast next time!

      Preheat the baking sheet itself in oven. Prepare your baking base: oil a baking parchment (at least 3 tbs) so the dough can slide. Or a silicon mat, or a cookie sheet, it needs to be thin enough to get the heat from hot baking sheet so i like baking parchment.

      Carefully take the bowl of dough and run a spatula around the edges: gently tip the dough onto the oiled sheet. The aim to keep most air bubbles in dough intact. No rolling out: use your fingers to coax dough to a rectangle, stretching it to the edges and corners. It should slide on the oiled base, and be about the same thickness so it will bake evenly. See picture added to post.

      When toppings are added and oven is hot, it is helpful to be two in kitchen: one holding hot baking sheet, the other person pulling baking parchment with dough quickly onto hot sheet. Firm grip on closest parchment corners helps, but take care not to get burned. If toppings are wet or heavy it may snag a but so be quick.

      Bake at ovens hottest setting (250C is aspirational for us) 8-15 min depending on oven.

      Yes, you need to blog about your pizza experiments!

      1. Thanks for the added instructions! Your broccolo e salsiccia pizza is inspired! It is hard to get a broccolo here but we asked the produce manager at a market here and he is trying to get one for us to make orecchiette con salsiccia e broccolo, but I may divert it to another pizza.

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