Stracchino Cheese Pizza

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Pizza obsessive?  That’s me alright! I had the most unforgettable yet humble Stracchino Pizza from Pizzeria Antica Porta in Florence. It was a simple pizza with a thin and crispy crust, the based was just a basic yet tasty tomato sauce, top with just Stracchino cheese and nothing else…. yet, it was sublime!

It is amazing how a few good quality ingredients can really transform a meal.  Since then, I have been in search of Stracchino cheese in England.  Sadly, despite looking at every imaginable supermarket, Italian delicatessens and specialist Italian supermarkets, to my great disappointment, I’ve had no luck, until…… of all places Lidl had it! While they were having one of their Italian seasons! I have been hunting for this glorious cheese for a year and I could not delay my pizza experiments for a moment now that I have finally found the long awaited Stracchino cheese! I am sure my Mom, relatives and friends who asked me to email them recipe links would be sick by now by the number of pizza recipes I have on my blog. Nevertheless, there can never be too many pizza choices! People do say that if you’re tired of London that you are tired of life.. for me it would be more like.. if you are tired of pizza, pasta and pastries then you are definitely tired of life! If you are a cheese lover as I am, you would not want to miss trying this amazingly creamy cheese.

Stracchino cheese is an Italian cow’s milk cheese, a typical cheese from Lombardy. It has a very delicate and mild flavour. It is so creamy that it just melts in your mouth and is, dare I say it, creamier than dolce latte! Apparently it is also known as crescenza, its name was derived from Lombard ”stracch”, which means “tired”. In my view that means you can never be ‘tired’ of too much Stracchino cheese! So let’s celebrate this glorious cheese and put it in the oven where it can melt away! Let’s begin..

KITCHEN KIT:
A large bowl, a 10 inch pizza baking pan or any flat baking tray will do as well; a food mixer machine with a dough hook for mixing and kneading, if you haven’t got the machine you can knead the dough by hand instead and mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon.
A tea towel or cling film that has been sprayed with oil.

Ingredients Makes 4 Pizzas (approximately 10 inches in size):

For the pizza dough:
1.  300g strong bread flour
2.  4g fast action yeast
3.  4g fine salt
4.  180ml  warm water
5.  20ml full fat milk
6.  10ml olive oil

For the sauce base:
7.  150ml passata
8.  2tbsp.dried oregano (½ tbsp per pizza)
9.  60g grated parmesan cheese (15g per pizza)
10. 4 pinches of ground black pepper ( a pinch per pizza)
11. 4 pinches of chili flakes
12. 2 tbsp olive oil (½ tbsp per pizza)

For the toppings:
13. 130g mozzarella sliced into chunky pieces
14. 10/12   cherry tomatoes, slice in halves.
15. a handful of fresh Spinach (soaked a couple of minutes in hot water then squeeze out all the liquid).
16. a handful of rocket leaves.
17. 4-6 slices of chorizo slices.
18. 200g. stracchino cheese (yum!)

For the pizza dough:
For a step by step visual guide, you can find this on my previous pizza blog here: “Chorizo and Olives Thin Crust Pizza” 
1. Put the flour into a large bowl; add the yeast on one side of the bowl and the salt directly on the opposite of the yeast (don’t combine the salt and yeast as the salt will kill the yeast and will prevent the dough from rising).
2. Make a well in the middle of the flour, pour in 180ml warm water, 20ml milk and 10m olive oil.  Mix well until you have fairly wet dough.
3. On a well-floured surface, transfer your dough and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth alternatively mix and knead on a food mixing machine for 5 minutes.
4. After kneading, cover the dough with a tea towel or cling film that has been sprayed with oil, placing the oil side first onto the dough so the dough can rise and does not stick to the cling film. You can now leave the dough to rise for 10-15 minutes to get a thicker pizza base, but if you want a very thin crust you don’t have to leave the dough to rise, you can use it immediately or reduce the rising time to 5 minutes.
5. If you’ve left the dough rise, knead it again for just 1-2 minutes, and then split the dough into 4 balls.
6. On a well-floured surface, place the dough ball, using a rolling-pin roll it until it is very thin as it will rise in the oven.
7. Sprinkle some flour over the pizza baking tray so the dough doesn’t stick to it.

For the sauce base and toppings:
8. Pre-heat oven to 200ºC. Spoon over the passata first on the rolled out pizza dough, then add all the other ‘sauce base’ ingredients listed above.
9. Sprinkle the toppings all over the pizza.
10. Place the pizza in the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes or until crisp.

Enjoy!

Note:
Making a crispy base pizza:
Spoon over the passata and toppings just before you bake the pizza in the oven, leaving it for more than 5 minutes will make the pizza base less crisp and in some cases soggy.
Storing the dough:
Once you have made the dough and have given it time to rise, tear it into small balls. The ones you don’t want to use immediately wrap in a cling film (air tight) and place in the fridge overnight and use the next day, alternatively you can also freeze them and use when needed.  If you decide to put it in the fridge make sure you knead the dough for a couple of minutes before rolling the dough out to make a pizza base. If you do freeze the dough then you will have to defrost it at room temperature which will probably take 6-8 hours, you will have to knead the dough for a couple of minutes before rolling the dough out to make a pizza base. Do not put it  in a microwave and defrost it. I have tried it and it became like a stress ball that you can throw at the wall and it will bounce backstage you, you definitely can’t roll it out.

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