Using Pesto on a pizza might seem unusual, but it works, packing plenty of flavour and saving time on making a tomato sauce. This pizza takes its flavour inspiration from a Turkish pide, combining tomato, beef and cheese but with the addition of Smoked Paprika from the Pesto. Getting a runny egg yolk can take a bit of practice with cooking times, but after the first two you will be an expert.
325ml luke warm water
7g dried yeast
500g 00 flour/strong white bread flour – plus extra for rolling out
500g minced beef, ideally around 10-20% fat
3 x 125g Mozzarella di Bufala, drained of liquid
60g 22 month Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)
4 medium free range eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
This pizza base includes yeast, however we have a non-yeast base, which you can find here. Combine the water and yeast in a bowl or jug and mix to dissolve. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl then make a well in the centre. Add the water and yeast mixture then use a spoon to stir and gradually bring in the flour from the edges.
Once it is too thick to stir, it is time to get your hands in there. Bring together all the flour to form a ball of dough. Remove from the bowl and place on a clean and lightly flavoured work surface. Knead for 10 minutes so that the dough has a springy texture and smooth surface. Divide into 4 and roll into small balls, then place on a floured tray and cover with a damp cloth or loose fitting cling film. Leave somewhere warm to prove for 45 minutes to an hour, or until they have doubled in size.
When ready to make the pizzas, lightly flour the work surface, place 1 piece of dough on top then flour again. Press the dough out with your finger tips whilst turning it to form a circle. At this stage you can use a rolling pin to roll the base out to about 25cm wide, adding a little more flour as you go to prevent sticking, or have a go at hand stretching it (and even tossing it in the air), but this is best described in an online video rather than just print.
Lift the base onto a square of baking paper, with semolina scattered underneath to prevent sticking, as this allows easy movement whilst putting toppings on and placing in the oven. Repeat with the remaining bases then its time to add your toppings.
Preheat an oven to 250C. If you have a baking stone then this can come in handy, otherwise an upturned large baking tin can all work well.
Place a large frying pan on a high heat (non-stick really helps) and when hot, add the beef mince. Season with salt and pepper and use a wooden spoon to break up into small bits. Continue to cook on a high heat so that the water is released and then evaporates, for around 5 minutes. When there is no moisture left and the beef is cooked, remove the heat and empty the pan onto a plate to cool.
Scatter some semolina on a baking tray then place the pizza base on top. For each base, spread 1 1/2 tbsp of Pesto all over, leaving a small gap at the edges. Scatter some of the ground beef on top, then tear just over half a Mozzarella ball on top of this. Grate the Parmigiano Reggiano all over (if using).
Carefully crack an egg in the centre then place the baking tray in the oven and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until the cheese has melted, the base has begun to bubble and the edges have started to crisp. If you prefer your egg to be runny in the middle, allow the pizza to cook for around 3 minutes, then remove the tray and crack the egg onto the pizza, then return to cook for the remaining time.
Whilst the first pizza is cooking, get the remaining pizzas made up and cook once the oven is free. You can cook more than one at a time, but they will often cook at different rates. Also, remember to give the oven a few minutes after opening it to come back up to temperature.