Tuesday, June 29, 2010

La Pizza - The Provence Way!

Italian pizza, thin and crisp, with fragrant tomato sauce and melted cheese... Yum! Who does not like pizza? Let him cast the first stone!

But today I'm craving another kind of pizza, the one you can find in any boulangerie in Provence, still warm out of the baker's oven, early in the morning... Unlike Italian pizza, the Provencal pizza is very deep pan, almost like bread topped with sauce.

So, that is how I made some...
First, the pizza (or bread) dough, pretty usual, flour, yeast, olive oil, salt (a little bit of sugar as well) and water.

After kneading all the ingredients together, the dough needs to rise. It then feels light and full of air.

Just before fitting the rolled dough on the oven tray, spread some raw polenta grains on the tray. It's brillant to keep the pizza from sticking to the tray. Much more effective than flour. And some of it will stick to the bottom of the pizza, which will give it a very lovely bite.

After rolling it and making it fit on an oven tray, it needs to rise some more. That's probably the difference between thin pizza and deep pan pizza. I suppose that the thin one is topped with the sauce and all, straight after being rolled out. But my deep one needs to rise for a further 20 minutes in a warm place after being rolled out. The best place I found to let it rise in on top of my hob. As you can see on the photo, I put a roasting tray on the hob and the dough in the oven tray on top of it. Beforehand, I would have switched on the 4 hobs for 5 minutes on maximum temperature. After switching them back off, the heat will keep rising long enough to help the dough double in size at least!

Look how nice and puffy the dough is after 20 minutes!

Now it's topping time!

I fancied a vegetable pizza... My ideal was ratatouille pizza but I didn't have any courgettes nor any aubergines (difficult to make ratatouille without those two vegs!) but I still had a few things I could use. It was not a little missing ingredient that was going to stop me, right? So I used red and green peppers, an onion, some asparagus, some mushrooms, homegrown spinach and homegrown rocket (rocket on pizza is absolutely yummy!). I cooked those vegs in a little olive oil before using them on the pizza. If you use them raw, all their juices might make the pizza all soggy. But if you cook them beforehand, their juices are already cooked.

Now, to make your pizza really tastes like Provence, you have to prepare your tomato sauce well in advance, at least a few hours, even overnight if possible! You will need some plain and basic passata (sieved tomatoes), pour it in a jug and add loads of herbs (that's the secret!), thyme, marjoram, and my favorite for pizza: loads of savory!

If you can't find any, no big deal! Thyme, marjoram, oregano, etc, will all do just fine! Then add a little salt to your sauce and a little olive oil. Mix well and let the herbs infuse the sauce with all their aromas.... Miam miam! (Like we say back home!)

Now it's time to top up your well risen pizza dough, starting with the tomato sauce. Don't put too much of it, as we are using vegetables as well, we don't want it to get soggy.

Now the cooked vegetables...

Then the rocket...

And cheese to finish!

And here is the result after cooking it for about 20 minutes at about 180C.

And the result after cutting it and taking a bite out of a slice of Provence.... Yummy!!

When I make it again, I will definitely get some courgettes, aubergines and black olives and make a ratatouille one. Roll on summery Provence!


  1. Miam Miam! bon appetit a tous les deux

  2. Looks delicious! Great photos as well :-)

  3. Frédérique - Je ne l'avais pas encore écrit, seulement dit par téléphone. C'est un régal pour les yeux : elle a vraiment l'air succulente. Je l'aurais bien goûtée !!! Il faudra y penser lorsque tu viendras en Provence, à la maison. Miam!miam! Yummy !