First, make the pizza dough. I use this simple recipe:
Put 2 1/4 tps yeast in a big mixing bowl.
Add 1 pinch of sugar.
Add 1 1/3rd cups of warm water (between 95-110 F).
Stir, then let sit for 5-10 minutes.
This wakes up the yeast, and lets it start multiplying. The sugar is so it wakes up happy. The amount of water you use in this step determines the size of your dough. I adjust it from 1 to 1.5 cups of water if I want a pizza that's smaller or larger. (Any more or less water and you need to change the other ingredients proportionally.)
When the yeast is dissolved and a light foam starts appearing on top of the water, stir in:
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil (always use extra virgin. Every Italian thing I do involves extra virgins.)
any spices you want in your pizza dough. Parsley, salt, garlic powder are good options -- no more than a teaspoon of each.
At this point it has the consistency of oatmeal soup. Now start adding, in small (1/2th cup quantities):
up to 4 cups flour.
I say 'up to' because I measure the flour's consistency by feel. You'll start doing the same, with practice. You'll probably only add 2-3 cups of flour before it can no longer be stirred with a fork -- at that point, flour a clean countertop and turn the dough out for kneading. During kneading you'll add more flour to keep it from sticking, and you'll also want to keep your hands dusted with flour. The perfect dough feels warm and slightly damp to the touch, but will not stick to your palm when you press your hand into it. Don't worry if it sticks a little, that just means it isn't perfect and well, nothing is.
Knead the dough until it's springy. I can't describe it much better than that -- when you press into it, it will try to reassume its original shape. You know how to knead, right? Press with the palm of one hand, then fold half the dough over the indentation you just made, then turn it 90 degrees and repeat.
When the dough is ready, get a large, clean mixing bowl (I usually clean the previous bowl) and pour half a tablespoon of olive oil in it. Drop the dough into the bowl and spin it around to get the bottom half coated with oil, then flip it over and cover the top the same way. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm area to rise for 30-60 minutes. You'll know it's ready when it has doubled in size.
During that time, start planning your pizza. You'll need the following ingredients:
1 16-ounce packed of sliced Cotto Salami
1 Pepperoni Stick
2 cups finely shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 cups Pizza Sauce
The ingredient amounts are, of course, variable to your specific tastes. I probably use less sauce and cheese than most people because I like *toppings*, so you may want to double the quantities of those.
Now get out your pizza stone. I imagine you could do this on a baking sheet, but I lurve my stone. And you'll need a Discworld map for reference -- I used this one, which I assembled from pieces I found on the web:
Then trace the outline of the map on your stone:
Then cover it with clear plastic wrap. (Note that I discovered this very helpful step after the trial run I photographed here. Just imagine there's plastic in every picture.)
I tried a lot of different ways of making a map on a pizza. Ricotta cheese makes neat maps and can be sculpted into mountain ranges, but it doesn't cook evenly and will still be nearly raw when the crust is starting to burn. A ricotta/egg mixture (like you'd use in lasagna) cooked well but had a strange, rubbery texture, and flowed like cookie dough so it didn't hold the continental shapes well. Eventually I gave up on making continents out of cheese and decided the cheese would be part of the oceans, with the map made out of meat. Cotto salami (a dry salami) is good for this because it doesn't shink much when baking. Pepperoni, ham, and bacon all shrunk and curled the map out of shape when I tried them.
Yes, I tried them all. A month and a half eating nothing but homemade pizza to get ready for something that didn't happen. I felt like Tom Delay's going to feel when the Rapture comes.
Anyway, on a cutting board, start carving slices of salami into the shape of the continents on the map:
This will take some time. But it's very relaxing.
I mangled the proportions of the continents a bit in this rehearsal, but I think it came out okay.
And don't forget the little islands, which you can make with scrap pieces.
All right! Now you can lift the entire thing off with the plastic wrap (the step I skipped here, remember -- in this rehearsal I carefully reassembled the map piece by piece on a baking sheet). When the stone is clear again, spread some cornmeal on it. I'm not sure how much that really keeps the dough from sticking to the stone, but it's traditional.
Now your dough should be ready. You have some choices, here. If you leave it risen and do not disturb it too much, it will be flaky with the consistency of french bread. I like that, myself. So I just lift the risen dough out of the bowl and gently pull (try not to push) it to cover the pizza stone.
If you like a firmer crust, you can knead the dough back down on a floured surface and then spread it out to the right size. You may need a rolling pin for this. This will make a thinner, crunchier crust. If you want to do it the *right* way you'll knead it down, then put it in the oiled bowl for another 30-60 minutes for a second rising, then roll it flat, put it on the stone, cover it with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise a third time for about 20 minutes. This will yield a bready crust with a wonderful texture. But it also means you get your pizza an hour later than any other method. I have my priorities, and prompt pizza is high on the list.
No matter how you work your dough, you can attempt the classic dough throw at this stage. Just toss it up with a spin, so it spreads out in the air, then catch it again. To do this successfully, the secret is to lift, toss, and catch using only your knuckles -- not the tips of your fingers. You also have to be willing to knead the dough back into a thin crust after you end up ripping it in half accidentally.
Note in the above picture the dough is dimpled. You want to do that with your fingertips -- just press in lightly to make lots of little indentations. This keeps it from swelling into a half-moon calzone-like shape and pushing your toppings off the sides. Unless you *want* to make a Discworld where the great turtle has swollen like a floating corpse.
The final steps should be obvious. Sauce!
Now take the pepperoni stick and carve it into the central spire of the Discworld. I've done this on several pizzas, but I didn't have pepperoni when I made this rehearsal so I put in a placeholder made of salami scraps. I also diced some other pieces of salami and sprinkled them with a little cheese as mountain ranges.
Then bake. A real pizza oven would bake this at about 425 F for 15 minutes, but my oven tends to burn the crust when I do that. I like baking it for about 20-25 minutes at 400 F. You know it's done when the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown.
Ah, but disaster! The continental plates have shifted, creating great gaping holes in the map! No big deal, really. Just take tongs (or hold two forks like chopsticks) and while the pizza's still hot you can pull the salami slices back together easily.
And there we have it -- the Discworld pizza. You may want to sprinkle oregano and red pepper on it now -- cotto salami isn't as spicy as pepperoni so it's a good idea to kick the flavor up a bit. I like it as-is, myself, but then I'm a bland and boring person. One who eats really, really well.
Hope this helps you make your own pizzas displaying maps, artistic designs, and naked pictures on them!