How to make a great pizza

How to make a great pizza

As part of our last team day we headed out to Ladro in Prahran to test out our skills in the kitchen. Ladro co-owner Ingrid took us through the ‘Pizza Academy’, we learnt fast that we shouldn’t quit our day jobs! Most importantly though, we had a heap of fun throughout the day. 

Pizza Academy at Ladro

So, we were let in on some history and some secrets to making a great pizza. And we know this isn’t really about engineering, but it’s fun so we thought we’d share what we learnt with you.

Getting the right balance between water and flour for your dough can be tricky. Weather and humidity can impact the result of your dough, so it’s best to have some extra flour on hand in case you need to get the dough to the right consistency. 

Speaking of flour, you need to use 00 flour. This type of flour is the finest milled grade of flour and is available from supermarkets – sometimes in the international section. Live or activated yeast will also give you the best result, and is widely available from good delis. 

It’s also no myth that good food takes time. So don’t be planning your pizzas for a midweek dinner, unless you’ve prepped in advance. Proofing can take anywhere from 8 to up to 24 hours. 

Pizza Dough

Italian cooking is all about simplicity and quality ingredients. According to Ingrid, the same applies to making a great dough.

This recipe will make enough for about 8 authentic thin crust pizzas. 

You’ll need: 

  • 1 Kilogram ‘00’ flour 
  • 25 grams fine sea salt 
  • 25 grams extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 grams dry yeast or 3 grams fresh yeast 
  • 600 millilitres water 
  1. Dissolve salt in water by stirring 
  2. In a bowl combine the flour and dry yeast 
  3. Add water to the flour/yeast and mix well until combined 
  4. Add oil and continue to combine 
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic – this may take up to 10 minutes 
  6. Place the dough into a lightly floured bowl and cover with a damp tea towel 
  7. Rest the dough for 30-45 minutes 
  8. Divide the dough into 210 grams balls (30 cm pizza) or less for a smaller pizza, roll into a neat ball 
  9. Place balls on a tray and cover with a damp tea towel. All balls to double in size – this may take 8-12 hours, or place in fridge for 24hrs 
  10. Take the dough ball from the tray, place on a lightly semolina floured bench and stretch using your hands or a rolling pin 
  11. Remember the smooth side of the dough ball will be the bottom of your pizza! 

If you are using fresh yeast, make a 50/50/50 starter with yeast, water and flour, then let sit for 30 minutes covered with a damp cloth. You can then combine the starter with the flour once it’s doubled in size and continue from step 5. 

Pizza Margherita made for a Queen

The first Pizza Margherita was made for Queen Margherita by pizzaiolo Rafaelo Epositio in Naples 1889. Here’s how to make Ladro’s authentic margherita pizza. 

You’ll need: 

  • Tin of San Marzano Tomatoes – crushed and season with pepper and salt 
  • 125 grams Buffalo mozzarella, torn into 6-8 smaller pieces 
  • 6 Fresh basil leaves
  • 20ml Extra virgin olive oil 
  • 210 gram pizza dough ball 
  1. On a lightly semolina floured bench, stretch out the dough ball 
  2. Spread with tomato, leaving a border for a crust 
  3. Top with torn buffalo mozzarella, drizzle with olive oil and scatter basil leaves 
  4. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden with charred edged in a wood oven 340-350 C or place on a hot pizza stone in a domestic oven for 6-10 minutes 

Temperature is important when cooking pizza – they love heat! A pizza oven will be as hot as 400C, so if you’re cooking in a domestic oven crank it up as high as it will go and use a pizza stone.

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