Recipe: Auguri it’s Liberation Day in Italia – Let’s eat Pizza Spazzacamino!

Here in Italy we have a public holiday today to mark the anniversary of the 1945 fall of Mussolini’s Italian Social Republic better known as Liberation Day. The day marks the date of independence from the nazi -fascist occupation in 1945 and celebrates the birth of the new Republic of Italy.  With the local comune organising a series of celebrations in the town square this year we’re opting out and are instead looking forward to kicking back in the garden and enjoying the day finishing work on our first veggie patch.

Whilst I love getting creative in the kitchen I’m much less accomplished in the garden. Call it laziness but I’ve grown up lucky enough to have home grown veggies on hand every day thanks to my mother’s green fingers. Yet in all this I’ve failed to learn a single thing and together with my husband, a city boy of the soft skinned hands variety, we’re embarking on this new journey into self sufficiency together. Our veggie patch has become our new project in a house not without its fair share of DIY emergencies. Somehow digging is more appealing than sanding shutters or painting and as the sun sets on our day’s efforts it’s with a sense of pride that we head indoors.

After all that physical activity what better dinner than a home-made pizza to celebrate Italy’s liberation? A fitting tribute to today’s national holiday with one of the country’s national dishes. My husband is a sworn margherita man with the exception of the pizza spazzacamino which translates as chimney sweep pizza. You may be wondering if I’ve lost leave of my senses but if you stick with me I promise there is a logical explanation. The mountain village where my husband spent most of his childhood summers is famed for it’s annual chimney sweep festival where sweeps come from all over the world to celebrate their trade. As such the local pizzeria named it’s special pancetta, onion and nostrano (locally made) cheese in honour of the chimney sweep or spazzacamino. To my mind no pizza is complete without an olive or two hence my contribution to this oniony but delicious combo.

Ingredients: For the dough – 500g Manitoba flour, 250g water, 50g olive oil, 15g salt, 25g fresh yeast or standard sachet of dried yeast. For the topping: 400g tin plum tomatoes, 125g mozzarella, fresh basil, salt and pepper + any topping of your choice; peppers, ham, bacon, onions, olives, capers…….

Preparation: 15 mins + 1 hour for dough to rise + 15 mins cooking

1. Make your dough in the morning and leave to rise for as long as possible, preferably in a warm environment. That way when you’re hungry and ready to eat all you have to do is dress the pizza and cook for 15 mins in a hot oven 240C.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a loarge bowl and in a seperate jug mix the tepid water, oil and yeast together.

3. Pour into the flour and combine well until your dough starts to form. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for a couple of minutes until smooth. Flour your hands rather than adding to much flour to the board to ensure your dough doesn’t become too dry.

4. Once you’re dough is ready, roll out and place on a lightly oiled tray to rise for a minimum of 1 hour. the longer you can leave it the better. Cover with a tea-towel so keep the moisture in.

5. Once risen you can start to dress your pizza with your chosen toppings. Make sure to preheat the oven to 240C whilst you’re decorating the pizza.

6. Start with the plum tomatoes and break them by hand and place evenly across the dough, lastly pouring on the tomato juice from the tin. Sprinkle a little salt over the tomato base.

7. Take the mozzarella and cut into smaller chunks and spread across the pizza. I add the mozzarella at this stage so that it doesn’t cook to quickly and melt off the pizza.

8. Lastly sprinkle your toppings. In this case I added finely slice onion (the finer the better unless you want to be tasting it still the next day!), pancetta slices, black olives.

9. To prevent the pizza become soggy you need to get it in the oven fairly quickly once dressed as by using tinned plum tomatoes there is more moisture than a simple tomato puree. This makes it much more scrummy once cooked. It’s also key that the oven is nice and hot and already preheated to 240C to give a good crustiness to the base.

10. Bake for 12-15 minutes and then eat piping hot! I use a gas oven which heats very quickly. If you have an electric oven you may need to cook it for a couple of minutes longer.

11. We love our pizza sprawled on the sofa, accompanied by a cool beer and with a good film or TV series for company but that’s not part of the recipe!

4 Responses to “Recipe: Auguri it’s Liberation Day in Italia – Let’s eat Pizza Spazzacamino!”
  1. What a beautiful pizza. Though, I wish things would stop reminding me of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – I finished it yesterday and it has left me utterly heart broken! Still, the pizza does make up for it somewhat. Now, if only it were here.

  2. Katy says:

    mmmm, looks yummy. Am impressed you are starting to garden, there is so much you will be able to grow and it really is VERY easy. Start small and with easy plants – courgettes, aubergines, tomatoes, chillies, lettuce will all do really well where you are.

    • We’re still in the minor seeds..just plants this first year. We’ve kicked off with red and yellow peppers, 3 kinds of tomatoes, long and round aubergines, long and round courgettes, cauliflower, cabbage, cucumber, celery, onions, leeks, spinach, basil, 4 kinds of lettuce and I think that’s it. Desperately trying to find beetroot which I love and also a few more root vege. You’ll have to come and visit.

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