So, I was going to do a post on pizzas at some point but not necessarily now… and then I get a tweet from someone saying they tried following my pizza recipe but it didn’t quite turn out right?
Right, so which pizza recipe was that then because I don’t recall putting one on here!
Maybe they were looking at someone else’s site?
No worries though! “I’ll put a fail safe recipe on the blog for you” I tweeted back.
So here is my guide to making a basic pizza, that’s a piece of bread topped with tomato sauce and cheese, I’ll save the poncey ones for later!
We will start with the pizza base. You can make a pizza base from a basic bread recipe. So if you have a favourite bread recipe that you are comfortable with try using that first. Otherwise give this one a go.
Pizza Base recipe (enough for 3 medium or two large pizzas)
You will knead… sorry need!
- 500g Strong white bread flour (you simply can’t use plain flour, well you can but it will go crumbly round the edges, soggy in the middle and just won’t be right!)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon dried yeast (or 1 x 7g sachet)
- 1 ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 ½ table spoon olive oil (or sunflower/vegetable oil if you have no olive)
- 320ml/½ pint lukewarm water
- in a jug or bowl add your sugar and yeast to the water. give a quick mix and leave for 10 – 15 minutes (it should start to foam and bubble, if it doesn’t your water was possibly too hot, your yeast is old or your water is too cold. Don’t be tempted to dissolve your salt in the water as salt will kill the yeast)
- in a large bowl (use a larger bowl than what you think… Trust me!) mix your flour and salt and then drizzle your oil in.
- make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in your yeast/water mixture. Pull in some of the flour into the liquid to form a thick paste and then leave for another 10-15 minutes to allow the mixture to ‘Sponge’.
- Now mix in the rest of the flour. You should end up with a nice smooth dough. If the mix looks too dry add a little bit of water. If the mixture looks too wet and is sticky add a little more flour at a time until it you get a nice consistency.
- You now have to knead the dough. Sprinkle a work surface and the dough with either bread flour or even better fine ground semolina (semolina gives a lovely silky finish). Put the dough on the work surface, hold the near edge of the bread with one hand and with the other push the dough away from you. The idea is that you are ‘stretching’ the mixture. At first the dough will pull apart but after 5 minutes or so the mixture will become more elastic as the gluten develops. If the mixture is still sticky keep sprinkling with flour (or semolina)
- when you have a nice stretchy dough knead it into a nice smooth ball rub some oil over the surface put back into the bowl and either cover the bowl with a clean tea towel or cling film. The dough now needs to rise for about an hour.
Step 2 Making the tomato/pizza sauce
You will need
- 2 fat cloves of garlic chopped
- 1 small onion chopped
- 100ml/3½fl oz white wine or cider vinegar
- 3 teaspoon sugar
- small tin (140g) tomato puree
- 1 tin (400g) chopped tomatoes
- 2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- pinch of dried thyme
- seasoning to taste
- Gently fry the garlic and onion ’till soft.
- Add the vinegar and sugar, turn up heat and reduce the liquid until it’s a thick syrup.
- stir in the tomato paste and fry for a minute.
- add all the other ingredients, stir to mix and let cook for 20 minutes.
Assembling The Pizza
- Knock back the risen dough (knock the air out of it by giving it a brief knead) and divide the dough into two or three depending on how many pizzas you want to make.
- On a work surface dusted with semolina (or flour) flatten a ball of dough into a circle with the palm of your hand. Roll out the dough in a rough circle to just short of the size you want it, it wants to be about 5mm thick for a nice thin crispy pizza. If you want a thicker pizza leave the dough a little thicker.
- Place the dough on whatever you are cooking it on. I use either pizza screens (with the holes in) or a good heavy baking sheet is fine. If using a baking sheet grease it with oil and give it a dusting of semolina or flour first.
- Pull the dough disk to the shape and size you want. If you have made a nice elastic dough it will keep resisting, push it down onto the sheet gently to help it along.
- You are now ready to top. First of all you want your tomato sauce. Put a dollop in the middle and work out towards the edges leaving about 1cm free.
- If you are just using Mozzarella cheese (you will need about 500g/1lb in total) the cheese can be put on. If you are topping with anything else then sprinkle a layer of cheese on the pizza before putting your other ingredients on (don’t overload the pizza!) and then finish with some more cheese.
- to finish the pizza off give it a grind of black pepper, sprinkle with some dried oregano and then give it a light drizzle of olive oil.
- If you like a thicker base allow the pizza to stand for 40 minutes to allow the base to prove again. If you like a thinner and more traditional Italian style base then put in an oven at 220°C/428°F (if using a fan oven lower the temperature to 200°C/392°F).
- Give the pizza 12 minutes and then turn and give another 10 – 15 minutes. When golden and bubbling take out the oven. leave for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
I sometimes brush some melted garlic butter over the pizza about 5 minutes before it comes out of the oven. This gives it an amazing finish!
As for toppings? Anything goes. Our favourites are sliced chilli peppers, black olives, chorizo, sliced red onion and thinly sliced mushroom (not too many, they’ll make the pizza soggy). I tend not to put fresh tomato on as again it tends to make the pizza soggy.
You don’t have to use processed, grated mozzarella either. Try tearing strips off fresh mozzarella for the top of your pizza (don’t worry about having areas with no cheese on, we prefer them that way!). Goats cheese makes a lovely topping too, try a goats cheese and rocket topping for a sophisticated touch!
Happy Pizza making and eating!