Making pizza is one of those things we often can’t really be bothered to do because you can buy them from the supermarket or from the take-away easily enough. But it is really worth it I promise you. I’m not going to pretend it is quick or easy – there are several processes but none are difficult to do, especially on a Friday evening with a glass of wine in your hand and some music in the kitchen.
Less grease, fresher flavours, more choice; these are the big advantages. Choose any toppings you like, and use less cheese. I personally hate pizzas that are thickly covered in cheese, when you strip all that cheese away there is little flavour left on top of the soggy dough. Better to cover it in a homemade rich tomato sauce and then punchy flavours like Italian salami or Parma ham, sundried tomatoes or marinated artichokes, olives, basil, mushrooms – the possibilities are endless – and a small amount of fresh mozzarella and parmesan.
My dough recipe makes enough for two whole pizzas and I always cover with two different toppings, one meat, one veg. On the first I did Milano salami, sundried tomatoes and then when it came out of the oven I scattered it with rocket I had dressed in extra-virgin olive oil, a smidge of lemon juice and salt and pepper.
The other had a bit extra cheese and mushrooms I had fried in a pan with garlic and some roasted red peppers from the jar. Sliced on platters with a bowl of green salad and some olive ciabatta on the table this is a feast for two, or could be stretched to serve three or four people by bolstering the salad and adding garlic bread then a dessert.
Pizza bases (makes two)
300g 00 Bread flour (a soft flour for making pasta and pizza, or normal bread flour)
1tsp instant yeast powder
1tsp table salt
1tbsp olive oil
200ml warm water
Tip the flour in a bowl and mix with the salt and yeast. Make a well in the middle and tip in the water and oil, combine with a fork and once it starts to come together squash into a ball and tip onto a floured work surface. Kneed for five minutes until soft and stretchy then put aside into a floured bowl. You don’t need to let it rise for a thin-crust. Separate into two pieces of dough and roll out into your pizza shape, put on a baking sheet and top with your chosen toppings.
500ml carton of passata
Two cloves of garlic, finely chopped
This makes enough sauce for four pizzas, so just stash the left-overs in the freezer until next time. Simply fry the garlic in oil for a minute or two and add the passata, oregano and salt and pepper. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until it has thickened.
Making the pizza
Spread the sauce over your bases and add your toppings, resisting the temptation to put too much topping on, or it will be soggy. Then put in a hot pre-heated oven (220 degree/ gas 7) for 10-15 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Eat with your hands for goodness sake – not a knife and fork.