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Recipes   /   “San Giovanni” in Florence and Pizza!

“San Giovanni” in Florence and Pizza!

Aug 5, 2009 by Gabriele Corcos


The bread oven featured in this episode is about six hundred years old! It is here that all the bread for the different families living and working on the estate was baked every week… Now, we use it almost for everything we want to cook near a fire or over a great set of charcoal: Lamb, Sheep, Veal, Bread, Cecina (garbanzo beans flat bread) and yes, Pizza! No steak can be cooked in this oven, it is way too hot, and it would cook through your 3 inches thick “Chianina Steak” in a snap… no good!During our Summer vacation in Italy we decided to host a pizza party, it was a lot of fun, and a lot of work… the evening revolved around the oven, everybody got to try to create their own pizza, and again, it was an evening that made for very good memories.

The beautiful thing about pizza is that you can be creative (within limits..no pineapple please), look on the table, pick your ingredients, feel in control, be in touch with your stomach and allow it to “tell you” what is the mood of the evening.
In Italy we all love to have occasionally our creative moment with flatbreads and pizzas, and this is the reason why, it is very easy to find in your local grocery store, fresh dough ready to be rolled on a table and cooked to your likings… Therefore, since we bought our dough at the supermarket, the “making” of it is not featured on the video, however, here is Nonna Lola’s recipe for it.
Have fun, and let the kids play too!


Serves: 4 / Prep Time: 30 minutes / Inactive Prep Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

  • 1 ( 1/4- ounce) package dry active yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water (about 80 degrees F)
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting


Serves: 4 / Prep Time: 15 minutes / Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour for home oven, 4 hours for wood-fired pizza oven/ Cook Time: 5 minutes per pizza

  • 1 cup canned whole peeled tomatoes (pelati)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • Pizza dough, formed into 4 (13-inch) discs, at room temperature (recipe above)
  • 1/2 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Handful fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling


1In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, lukewarm water, and 1/2 cup bread flour. Mix well and let sit until bubbly, about 30 minutes.

2In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 1/2 cups bread flour and the salt until evenly distributed.

3Once the yeast mixture is nice and bubbly and looks like foamy beer, add 3/4 cup cold water and the olive oil to it.

4Turn on the mixer and begin adding the bread flour mixture in increments, then mix for 5 minutes, until the dough start creeping up the dough hook and detaching from the sides of the bowl.

5Place the dough in a large bowl lightly greased with olive oil. Turn to coat all sides of the dough with oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a clean tea towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punch dough down, and let rise another hour.

6Divide the dough into 4 equal discs. Lightly flour a work surface. Using your fingers or heels of your hands (and a rolling pin, if you prefer) stretch the disks out until 13 inches in diameter. The disc should be very thin, less than 1/8 inch.

Importante!: If you’re making the pizza within the hour after forming the pizza dough discs, they can be kept at room temperature. Otherwise, place them on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate up to 12 hours before baking, as long as the dough doesn’t rise too much because the acidity will creep in and the flavor will sour. Ideally though, you should make the pizzas the same day you make the dough. 


1You can use a preheated pizza stone in your home oven. It’s best to heat it for 1 hour at 500 degrees F before baking. Alternatively, you can preheat a wood-fired pizza oven to very hot 4 hours before cooking.

2Add tomatoes to a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

3Using a spoon, spread one-fourth of the tomato sauce on 1 disc of pizza dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Sprinkle with one-fourth of the mozzarella cheese.

4Gently place the the pizza on pizza stone and bake for 5 minutes, until golden with slight signs of charring. If using wood- fired oven, gently place the pizza on the oven floor, bake until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes.

5Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Slice, garnish with basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and serve immediately.

6Repeat with the remaining 3 pizza discs.


About Tomatoes and Mozzarella:
We usually use pelati tomatoes, well blended with a mixer, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Since we do always have some sauce leftovers, we never add oregano to it, just in case we decide to use the tomatoes a couple of days later to make a pasta sauce… also, oregano is not one of our favorite herbs.
We also grind the mozzarella, instead of slicing it… By doing this we ensure that the dough does not get wet when the cheese starts melting, and also, ground cheese is easier to spread evenly on the pizza.

The Pizzas That We Made…
Margherita – Tomatoes, Mozzarella, olive oil. Add Basil before serving.
Napoli – Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Capers, Anchovies, Olive Oil, Oregano.
Herbs Covaccino – Mozzarella, Rosemary, Sage, Olive Oil (Onion optional).
Potatoes and Stracchino – Slices of Boiled Potatoes, Stracchino or other soft spreadable cheese, Red Onion, Sage, Olive Oil.
Stracchino and Sausage – Stracchino, Pork Sausage, White Onion, Sage, Olive Oil.
Tomatoes and Bufala – Fresh Tomatoes sliced thin, Bufala Mozzarella sliced thin (Bufala is too soft to be ground), Olive Oil. Add Basil before serving.
And for your munchies, or to help you finish the bottle of Grappa in front of you…
Nutella Pizza – No Olive Oil on this one!


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