The Artisan of Flavour

Cooking Italian is a craftsman’s labour, the work of an Artisan of Flavour.

Pizza acchiughe e olive nere (Anchovies and Black Olives Pizza)

Pizza acciughe e olive

There are things that can’t be missing in a blog dedicated to Italian food. We cover one of these Today: Pizza. Many people seem to think pizza is somehow something incredibly difficult to prepare. Well, it’s not. As for many other dishes, the main thing is just getting it right. The taste of a home baked pizza is so much better than any you can buy in a shop. Even your first tries will have so much more genuine flavour than any frozen or packaged product. Guaranteed!

Ready in: 2hr

Difficulty: Medium

Cost: Low

Ingredients for two medium pizzas

. Strong Bread Flour (300g)
. Yeast (16g)
. Sieved tomatoes (250g)
. One large Italian mozzarella
. Oregano
. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
. Salt
. Water
. Sugar
. Anchovies (30g)
. Olives (a handful)
. Black pepper


In a first small bowl put 16g of yeast and a pinch of sugar. Add 150ml of lukewarm water and stir with a spoon until yeast and sugar are completely melted. In a second small bowl mix 6g of salt with two spoons of extra virgin olive oil and 130 ml of water. Do so until the salt is melted.

Put 300g of strong bread flour in a large bowl. Create a basin in the middle: it’s where you will pour first the content of the first small bowl and then the one of the second. Mix with a spoon and then start kneading with your hands for around 10 minutes, using the external parts of your palms to create pressure on the dough.

When the dough is uniform and compact place it in a larger bowl with some flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl. Cover with a dishcloth or a tea towel and leave in a cool dry place protected by draughts. A closet or the oven are quite good places. This is when you dough will rise and it is the key part of your process. The taste of your pizza is developed now. For this size of dough it will take around 80 minutes. If nothing happens, something has gone terribly wrong and you need to start again.

Use some of these 80 minutes to cut your mozzarella in very thin slices and to prepare your tomato sauce. You will prepare your sauce by gently cooking the sieved tomatoes on very low heat with a pinch of salt and a spoon of extra virgin olive oil. Add the oregano towards the end.

When the dough is fully leavened roll it out on baking paper using a pin and adjusting the thickness of your pizza depending on your preferences. Don’t make it too thick, as you would have to cook it differently, nor too thin, as it could burn and become crispy. Add in this order: tomato sauce, mozzarella, toppings. If some of your toppings are likely to burn or should be served uncooked, delay them to a later stage. In this case, olives.

Preheat the oven to 180°. Depending on the options of your oven choose the one that best suites the occasion considering that the heat should come also from underneath you pizza and a fan would help mozzarella and sieved tomatoes to dry off a bit.

Cooking time should be around 7-10 minutes but never ever rely on any guideline. Always keep an eye on your oven as one minute more than required could completely frustrate all your good efforts.

Take out of the oven, grind some black pepper, drizzle some chilly oil and serve.


. Don’t use grated mozzarella: it’s dried and made with lower quality cheese
. Don’t completely cover your pizza in cheese or toppings. Choose just a couple of toppings that go well together and with the taste of the base. Avoid all abominations like chicken, meatballs and pineapple. If any doubts, be conservative.


4 comments on “Pizza acchiughe e olive nere (Anchovies and Black Olives Pizza)

  1. johnnysenough hepburn
    March 24, 2013

    This reminds me of my first proper attempt at cooking when I was fourteen. This is pretty much what I did from scratch. Then, it took about two weeks to find and buy in all of the necessary ingredients. And what fun to have store assistants look at me as if I was the one half barking when asking for anchovies. How times have changed.

    • The Artisan of Flavour
      March 24, 2013

      Hehe. It is indeed a starting point for many: it’s cheap, tasty and filling. Although a lot of people still getting it wrong… ;)

      I started from completely different things. I never bothered with pizza when I was in Italy as a good one was just a phone call away. And almost as cheap as baking it at home.

  2. camparigirl
    March 26, 2013

    I found a great way of approximating restaurant pizza at home. You know like you never get the charring of the edges right? You pre-bake the crust a little bit, with no toppings, than you top it, bake the pizza for a few more minutes and then switch to the broiling function for a minute or two. I was aazed! (and I am a super picky pizza eater..)

    • The Artisan of Flavour
      March 27, 2013

      Yep I know what you mean, I do too sometimes. All these different arrangements really depend on the characteristics of the pizza I’m cooking. I guess it’s down to us to recognise the needs of what we have in front of us hehe.

      If I have a pizza that’s a bit thicker than usual, then I will cook the base alone for a couple of minutes. However if I am using mozzarella slices and it’s a very juicy mozzarella, then I’ll put it on straight away or I’ll end up with a watery pizza – which is pretty awful :D

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