Margherita Pizza Balls
Margherita pizza would be on my list of five foods to take to a desert island. When done well with the appropriate thin crust, beautiful quality mozzarella and a sprinkling of freshly torn basil, everything seems right with the world. This is a pizza pocket version of the margherita – an ode to the good old days of a few coins taped to a brown paper bag for the pizza pop tart at tuckshop.
The pizza dough here is very much a hands off affair. Add the ingredients to a bowl, use your hands to briefly combine then an overnight nurse is all that’s required. Low maintenance – just the way we like it. The end result is crisp and airy despite the filling. And what emerges from your oven is this fantastic molten mess of mozzarella, cooked down tomato goodness and of course the fragrant basil. Its heaven. Baked heaven. One of those hard hitting numbers that makes your house smell amazing and trust me when this emerges from the oven it is on for young and old.
200g bread flour
200g plain flour
1 tbsp sugar
Generous pinch salt
2 tsp (7g sachet) active dried yeast
300ml warm water, approximately
250g buffalo mozzarella
Olive oil to coat
1 x 400g Tin cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 small red onion, peeled, roughly chopped
generous pinch of sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
small handful of basil leaves
To make the pizza dough mix the flour, sugar, salt and instant dry yeast evenly in a large bowl. Add the water and mix together with a wooden spoon until a wet dough forms. Let the dough sit for the flour to hydrate then with your hands pull the dough up then fold it over itself. Repeat this once or twice – you just want everything to come together but you are not kneading the dough as such, just encouraging the elasticity of the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap then let proof overnight at room temperature. In the current weather I left mine inside the oven overnight.
To make the tomato sauce, add all ingredients to a blender and blitz until relatively smooth. Pour into a saucepan and simmer for about ten minutes over medium heat until the sauce thickens and reduces slightly and the garlic cooks out.
Preheat the oven to 250C.
Generously oil a baking dish at least 25 x 25cm in size.
Lightly flour your work bench. Pull small handfuls of dough at a time and roll out to 5mm thick. Place about a heaped teaspoon amount of mozzarella in the centre. Spoon over a dessertspoon of tomato sauce, top with a fresh basil leaf then bring the dough together to enclose it into a ball/pocket shape and place in the baking dish. Don’t worry, the more rustic looking the better and they puff up so much it really doesn’t matter what it looks like as it goes in. Repeat with remaining dough, mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil until you have filled your baking dish. Set aside for thirty minutes for the dough to rest again. Brush generously with additional olive oil and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and puffed in appearance. Keep an eye on it as you don’t want the top to burn. If it looks like it is burning, turn the oven down straight away. Once cooked, remove and scoop over any few spoonfuls of left over tomato sauce and sprinkle with a few basil leaves. Season and serve piping hot straight from the oven.