Making pizzas at home is one of my favourite things to do as a group. If there are a few of you, you can club together to afford decent ingredients and at a fraction of the cost of a takeaway or restaurant pizza. It’s also a lot healthier than eating out as you know exactly what’s going into every component of the dish!
The most rewarding part is making the dough. Don’t skip this, it’s fun and will really add that authentic Italian touch to the pizza! This recipe comes from an Italian cookbook, so it’s the real deal:
15g packet dry active yeast
250ml lukewarm water
pinch of sugar
350–400g strong white bread flour
Place the yeast and lukewarm water in a mixing bowl, stir in the sugar with a fork and let stand for about 7 minutes, until the yeast has dispersed and started to foam. Spoon in the salt and 1/3 of the flour until it becomes dough-like and starts to peal away from the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle some of the flour onto a clean work surface and knead for around 10 mins, working in the remaining flour bit by bit. This dough cannot be overworked, so it’s a good idea to let everyone have a go at the kneading part. It can be quite fun to relieve any underlying anger by violently punching the dough, picking it up and throwing it at the counter.
When the dough is elastic and smooth, form into a ball and place into a lightly oiled mixing bowl, drape a moist cloth over the top and leave to rise for about an hour in a warm place. I sometimes heat the oven then turn it off and leave it in there, or quickly turn all the hobs on high for a minute then turn off and leave on there. You don’t want the dough to start cooking, so careful that the place is not too hot. To test if the dough is proved, poke fingers into it and if the indentations remain, it’s ready. Stretch the dough as thinly as possible into four pizza shapes, and ease into a clean roasting tin. The bases are now ready to be topped.
Every pizza should be topped with a simple passata base, this can be shop bought but just as easily home made with a few pantry staples—you might as well make everything from scratch!
tin of tomatoes
tbsp tomato puree
drop of tabasco
drop of balsamic vinegar
spoonful of sugar
salt & black pepper
Finely chop the onion and fry with the garlic, add everything to a blender and zizz, bring to the boil in a large saucepan and simmer for 10 – 15 mins until you have a delicious passata.
Now you have the base, let your imagination run wild! Experiment with weird and wonderful topping combinations, you may come across a taste sensation. Or, if your creative juices aren’t yet flowing, have a gander at the tantalizing flavours my house devised and devoured.
In reverse order, saving best for last.
4. The Stuff We Had Left Over
A mish-mash pizza consisting of a few sliced peppers, onion, olives and fresh mozzarella topped with basil leaves.
3. Everything Is Better With An Egg On Top
Vine tomatoes, spinach & ricotta pesto blobs, fresh mozzarella, and a cracked egg.
2. Garlic Mushroom
Anchovy base with sliced & fried garlic mushrooms, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves.
1. Heaven On A Plate
Caramelised onions, goats’ cheese and fresh mozzarella.
– fry mushrooms in a little butter and garlic before they go on the pizza.
– to caramelise onions, cook slowly in butter for around 5 mins, add sugar and a small shot glass of brewed coffee, then reduce for around 7 mins til dark and sticky. It’s almost like a chutney which is why the coffee works, but make sure there is enough sugar to balance the bitter flavour.
– It’s worth spending a few extra pennies on good quality mozzarella, I find basics stuff a bit rubbery and tasteless.
– If in the oven (on about 200) the toppings are done but not the bottom, you can slide the whole pizza base down into a frying pan to crisp it up.
Please let us know what interesting topping combinations you come up with!