Xanthe Clay shows you how to twirl pizza like a professional before grilling it on the barbecue.
Making pizza on the barbecue gives it a gorgeous crust, like the best wood-burning ovens. You’ll need a barbecue designed for “lid down” cooking, like a Halo or a Weber. The Halo’s flat grill means that you can cook straight on it, but a pizza stone will make the heat much more even — without one you are likely to have scorched patches of crust, which don’t bother me but may you. Try to spread the coals evenly to minimise this.
A pizza peel is the ideal implement for moving the pizza around, but a rimless baking sheet works well, or failing that a wooden board. Either way, using semolina rather than flour to dust it will help it slide off more easily.
Makes three 12in/30cm pizzas
500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour (00 grade, ideally)
A sachet (7g) of easy blend yeast
A squeeze of tomato purée
A ball of mozzarella for each pizza
Toppings, if you like, such as olives, anchovies, rocket, salami or grilled peppers
Mix the flour and yeast with ½ tsp salt and 325ml/12floz warm water. Knead for 10 minutes by hand (two minutes in a mixer with a dough hook), until smooth and stretchy.
Put the dough in a bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise for an hour or so, until doubled in size.
Divide the dough into three. Take one ball and roll it out on a lightly floured work surface into a circle about the size of a large side plate.
Now to stretch it. Drape the circle of dough over the back of your hands, so that the weight of the soft dough stretches the circle. Drawing your hands gently apart, stretch it further, bouncing it over your knuckles so it shapes evenly. (With practice, pizza chefs can twirl the dough in the air and catch it.) It should be the size of a large dinner plate, very thin in the middle but with a thick rim, about the width of your finger, around the edge. If the dough tears, just mend the dough by pinching it together.
Dust a board with coarse semolina (or more flour) and lay the pizza base on it. Cover with a tea towel and leave to puff up a little — 10-20 mins. Or cook it straightaway, if you can’t wait. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
To make the tomato sauce, put the passata in a small pan with a good squeeze of tomato purée and a glug of olive oil. Simmer until as thick as yogurt. Season with salt and pepper and leave to cool.
Spread the pizza base thinly with tomato sauce. Top with slices of mozzarella and any other toppings you like (save leaves like rocket for after cooking).
Heat the barbecue until very hot. If you have a barbecue-safe pizza stone, so much the better — get that good and hot too.
Slide the pizza onto the grill or pizza stone and cover with the lid. Cook for two- three minutes then lift the lid and use a couple of fish slices to swivel the pizza round a few degrees. Quickly replace the cover and cook for another minute or two, until the base is crisp (it may not colour up that much on top).
Lift the pizza onto a board.
Top with rocket if you like. Cut into slices. Allow to cool a little before eating — the cheese will be mouth-burningly hot.