It was actually the French who first coined the phrase a la Florentine, to describe dishes featuring spinach, cheese and egg. It’s not known why, but eggs Florentine is a breakfast staple the world over. It’s only logical then that pizza fiorentina is a perfect breakfast pizza to be eaten without shame or guilt. Our version of this green goddess of a pizza was developed by our very own head chef Tom Mullin, a Northern Irish lad with a penchant for good Irish butter.
For the base
1000g (35oz) ‘00’ flour
(we recommend Caputo ‘blue’)
2g (2⁄3tsp) fresh yeast
620ml (21fl oz) tepid water
30g (1oz) fine sea salt
For the topping
A large knob of butter
200g (7oz) spinach leaves, finely shredded
80g (3oz) double (heavy) cream
1⁄4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Parmesan, for grating
1 ball of Neapolitan pizza dough
80g (3oz) fior di latte mozzarella, torn or sliced 1 egg yolk
sea salt and cracked black pepper
- Make a mountain of flour in the middle of the table. Using your fist, make a deep well in the middle of the flour, exposing the surface of the table (turning your mountain into a moon crater).
- Crumble the yeast into the tepid water. Use your good hand to mash up the yeast in the water until it has dissolved. (Keep the other hand dry for taking Instagram photos to show off to your friends.) Fill your crater of flour with a third of the yeast/water mix. Using your fingertips, start making very small circular motions to combine the flour and water.
- Start dragging in some more flour to the mix, by ‘undercutting’ the walls of the crater with your fingertips. As you do this the mixture in the middle will become thicker. Once it reaches the consistency of porridge you need to add a bit more water. Don’t let it get too thick; if it starts to form a dough too soon it becomes difficult to incorporate the rest of the water. Keep dragging in a little flour to thicken the mix, then pouring a little bit more water in to loosen it, until you have all the water used up.
- Sprinkle the sea salt over the mixture while it’s still very wet to ensure it dissolves and disperses evenly throughout the dough. Now use both hands to push the remaining flour from the outside into the middle. Fold and press the mix until all the flour is absorbed and a dough comes together. If you have a dough scraper it really helps get everything off the table, but you can improvise with a paint scraper, spatula or knife.
- Work the gluten by kneading the dough. Use the heel of your hand to stretch out the dough and roll it back up, while the other hand acts like an anchor. You’ll be able to see the strands of gluten stretching, breaking, being put back together and becoming stronger. Continue this for about 8 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and glossy. It should also feel tighter and elastic.
- Let the dough have a10-minute rest to relax the gluten. Cover the dough with a damp cloth or some clingfilm (plastic wrap) to keep the air from drying it out. Then divide your bulk of dough into individual portions. We recommend 230g (8oz) dough balls for 10-inch pizzas. Ensure your dough balls are neatly shaped – pinched at the bottom and tight on the top – then place them in a tray or container 3cm (1in) apart. Cover with a tight lid or clingfilm (plastic wrap).
- Now you can relax. The yeast will take over from here. Leave the dough at room temperature for approximately 6 hours until it expands to almost double its size, then store in the fridge overnight. The next day remove the dough from the fridge for 1–2 hours and bring it back to room temperature before making your pizzas.
- First melt the knob of butter in a pan, then fill the pan with the spinach. Wait until it has wilted down then add the cream, nutmeg, and some salt and pepper to taste. Cook down for a few minutes, remove from the heat and grate in some Parmesan to taste. Leave to cool.
- Preheat the grill (broiler) to its absolute highest setting, and place a large, ovenproof frying pan (skillet) over a high heat and let it get screaming hot.
- Meanwhile, flatten and stretch the dough ball (Following the instructions on page 101) to make a 10-inch pizza base.
- Lay the pizza base flat in the hot, dry frying pan, then spread with the spinach mixture. Add the mozzarella and some more grated Parmesan, then gently place the egg yolk in the centre of the pizza.
- Once the base of the pizza has browned, about 1–2 minutes, place the frying pan under the grill on the highest shelf.
- Once the crust has taken on some colour, about 1–2 minutes, finish with some cracked black pepper.
PIZZA: History, recipes, stories, people, places, love by Thom & James Elliot is (Quadrille, £20) is available to buy now