Every food-loving person I know has a "dark" passion they would rather not talk about. It's either something other people find disgusting (a friend loves marmalade and mustard sandwiches), totally unhealthy or something other food lovers would strongly disapprove of. One of my "dark passions" is fried bread dough, possibly on the oily side. I recently discovered, at our local Christmas market, a stand selling Hungarian langosh, potato enriched dough disks fired and topped with garlic, sour-cream and eventually cheese.... mmhhh de-licious! In Naples similar street food exists: little balls of fried dough are eaten as snacks from friggitoria stalls and are called paste cresciute (risen dough). Fried pizzas are also quite common. The original fried pizza is actually a calzone filled with ricotta, pepper and pork cracklings. It's slowly disappearing but it once was much easier to find than the baked pizzas. After all all one needs to make them is some fire, dough and a pot full of oil. Such a pizza plays a role on one of my favourite films about Naples, L'oro di Napoli. Tomato topped pizzas are also quite common and usually loved by children. In a bout of nostalgia I decided to make these pizzas at home.
The procedure is very easy. I made a softish bread dough and let it rise twice. As topping I made some tomato sauce with some good canned tomatoes: just oil, salt, pepper and some basil as flavouring. To finish I prepared two containers, one with grated parmesan and the other with basil leaves. I divided the dough into small balls, flattened them out and fried them. It's important to press the centre of the disks with a slotted spoon while they fry so to obtain a little depression which will contain the sauce. When one side was golden I turned them around to finish cooking the other side. Once done I patted them quickly with kitchen towels to get rid of the excess oil and topped them with sauce, a generous sprinkling of parmesan and a basil leaf. I find they look beautiful, just love the colours.
Other toppings are often used, starting from a simple sprinkling of salt. If the pizzas are fried in olive oil one could sprinkle some parmesan on top and add very little hot oil on top to melt it (for oil lovers only). An enriched sauce with olives and capers can also be used. a few toppings I've read of but never tried are: anchovies, with or without sauce, ricotta and pepper, small steamed fishes or mussels.
If you top with tomato sauce it is important to have a tasty and possibly not too sweet one. This is what gives the main flavour contrast to the oily-fried dough. I would also avoid using any fresh cheese like mozzarella as it would only make the pizzas soggy.
The size and thickness of the pizzas can be varied to taste: small thin one for parties, a single big one as lunch and so on. The ones I made were as big as a CD and 2 were enough for a very filling dinner.