Pizza Madre, in Sydney’s Marrickville, doesn’t mess around. The pizza at the Neapolitan-influenced joint is thin, chewy and bubbly in all the right ways – but it’s not just quoting the classics verbatim.

“What’s special to me is that the way that I'm making the dough is with a 100 per cent sourdough base,” says head chef Brian Bao. “And all of the pizzas on our menu are vegetarian – we change our menus monthly to celebrate seasonal vegetables.”

A former baker, Bao knows more than most about the intricacies of dough and pizza. Whether you’re using a traditional yeast starter or a sourdough culture like at Pizza Madre, Bao has a couple of tips for next time you’re making pizza at home.

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“You need to knead the dough long enough to build the strength of the gluten and keep the temperature of the final dough around like 22, 23 [degrees Celsius],” he says. You’ll know you’re on the right track when the dough feels strong and stretchy.

At this point, pro pizza chefs would stretch the dough by hand, but don’t feel you have to run that mile. “The best way is to actually use a rolling pin,” Bao says. “You can flatten out the dough to around three millimetres thin, then you put it on a tray or the pizza peel.”

As for what goes on top, Bao doesn’t think it’s necessary to go out and buy a whole load of specialty ingredients. For the base, for instance, go for simple and punchy flavours straight from the pantry. “At home you can try something that you already have, like confit garlic,” he says. “Then spreading some potatoes and rosemary and a bit of grated cheese on top is beautiful.”

Classic flavours are classics for a reason, too. “For me, the simpler the better,” Bao says. “You can’t go wrong with margherita: a tomato base and mozzarella and basil. That's the best you can get.”

Of course, one big difference between pizzerias such as Pizza Madre and home kitchens is in the cooking. If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated pizza oven – like the Kiln R Series Oven by Everdure – that can run at a high temperature, Bao suggests firing your pizza at 350 to 400 degrees Celsius for around two minutes. If you’re using a standard oven, three minutes at 250 degrees should get you there. Trust your senses to let you know when it’s done, though. “On the crust you should see a bit of brown caramelisation from the gluten cooking and, when you're touching it, it’s a bit crunchy,” he says.

Making Bao’s bruschetta pizza recipe – inspired, of course, by our current abundance of tomatoes – is a good way to put all this pizza theory into practice. Here you’ll find a base smeared with that confit garlic from earlier cooked quickly with oxheart tomatoes and topped with a few lively additions: pickled onions, good quality buffalo mozzarella and pistachio pesto.

Brian Bao’s bruschetta pizza

Serves 3-4
Prep time: 2 hours
Cooking time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

3-4 ripe oxheart tomatoes (mixed colour is better)
2 pizza bases
3-4 buffalo mozzarella
1 bunch oregano
Flaky salt

Confit garlic puree
300g peeled garlic
Vegetable oil
Thyme

Pickled red onion
2 red onions
250ml white wine vinegar (or any vinegar to substitute)
250ml water
125g sugar
1 bay leaf
20g coriander seeds
10g salt

Pistachio pesto
1 cup pistachios, shelled
2 cups basil leaves
50g spinach (optional)
½ cup parmesan, grated
1 clove garlic
1 cup olive oil
2 ice cubes
Salt
Pepper

Method:

Thinly slice the tomato and leave it on top of paper towels to get rid of all the excess water.

For the confit garlic puree, heat the oven to 180ºC. Submerge garlic and thyme in vegetable oil and place in oven for 1-2 hours until garlic is soft – fork tender – and golden. Transfer to blender and blend till smooth. Season with a pinch of salt.

To make the pickled onion, put all ingredients together in saucepan. Bring everything to boil and let it cool down completely. Thinly slice the red onion and pour the pickling liquid on top. Make sure everything is submerged under liquid. This process can be made 1-2 days ahead for a better result.

For the pesto, roast pistachios at 175ºC for 8 minutes. Ensure it cools down completely before blending the pistachio into small pieces. Set it aside. Put the remaining ingredients into the blender and blend till smooth, about 45 seconds. Pour pesto mixture into a bowl and add pistachio. Add salt to taste.

To make the pizza, heat the oven to 250ºC, or 400ºC if you’re using a pizza oven. Spread 1 tbsp confit garlic on each pizza base and top with sliced oxheart tomato. Place each pizza in the oven for two to three minutes or until a little brown and crunchy. Remove and garnish in order: break buffalo mozzarella into small pieces on every slice of pizza, top with pickled red onion, drizzle pistachio pesto on top and finish with fresh oregano leaves and flaky salt.

This article was produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Everdure.