Ursula’s perfect pizza

by Ursula Ferrigno

Italian chef Ursula Ferrigno shares her tried and tested recipe for a classic margherita


250g grano duro di semola, plus extra for sprinkling
50g 00 flour
30ml olive oil
15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (unwaxed lemon)
2 tsp finely crushed sea salt
200ml water, body temperature
12g fresh yeast

For the topping:
1 x 400g tin San Marzano plum tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sea salt
2 handfuls of basil, roughly torn
2 x 140g balls of buffalo mozzarella


To prepare the dough, in a medium-sized bowl combine the grano duro di semola with the 00 flour, add salt and mix well. Create a generous hole in the flours and add the lemon juice, olive oil and fresh yeast that has been slackened in some of the body temperature water.

Start mixing in the water, little by little, with a wooden spoon. When all the water has been added, you will have a crumbly dough. Squeeze the crumb together and start kneading, the dough should be damp like blu tac, not wet nor dry. Knead for a good 10 mins, the dough will be strong and soft like silk.

Return the dough to a clean bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm area for at least 2 hours. It will double in size. After at least 2-4 hours (longer is fine), knock back the dough by gently punching it to release the gas trapped inside. Re-knead the dough for 4 mins. Relax the dough and cover it for 5 mins.

Pre-heat the oven to 220C. Meanwhile, prepare the topping.

Drain the tomatoes and tip into a bowl. Snip the tomatoes into small pieces with scissors or chop. Add the garlic, oil, salt and oregano. Set aside.

Brush a baking sheet with oil and sprinkle with a little semolina.

When the dough is ready, cut it in half and put one half onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 4-5 times to squash out any air bubbles, then roll it out. At the point where it just keeps springing back, brush off the flour from the work surface and rub on a little oil. This makes it easier to roll. Continue to roll out until you have a 32cm circle, pulling it into shape as well. Lift it onto the baking sheet (it’s easier if you drape it over a rolling pin).

Drain the mozzarella, then pat dry with kitchen paper. Brush the dough with olive oil, then spread half the sauce over, almost up to the edge—there will be a little surplus tomato sauce, it should be just a fine spread. Scatter over half the basil, then tear up 1 mozzarella ball and scatter it over the basil. Grind over black pepper and drizzle with a little oil. 

Bake for 12-15 mins, until the topping is bubbling and the dough is going brown. Repeat with the remaining dough and toppings. To serve, drizzle with a little oil.

Recipe: Ursula Ferrigno