I love pizza, I make pizza a lot, so when I had a random conversation with a colleague from work, Suzie, yesterday where we were talking about making bread and she admitted she’s never tried to make pizza, I promised to do a quick blog post with my recipe so she could try.
For a very long time, Kate and I had a Friday night treat of “Beer, Pizza and movie night”. Originally, this meant a shop bought or takeaway pizza, but once I leaned to make my own, shop bought pizza’s have just become a disappointment.
We don’t do pizza every Friday night anymore (way too many calories), but we do have it as a random treat every now and then and it’s always homemade. We have even tried all sorts of experiments to reduce the calories, making the base out of cauliflower, reduced fat mozzarella etc but the result of these experiments is DON’T! It’s not worth it, just make smaller pizzas.
Ok so this is my basic recipe (Makes 2 large pizzas)
The basic dough
- 150 g bread flour
- 100 g wholemeal flour
- 8 g dried yeast
- 6 g salt
- 20 ml oil
- around 300 ml water
You can also add any herbs and flavouring s you want to the dough, we usually add some herbs from the garden.
Add the flour, oil, yeast and salt to a large bowl and bring together a little using your hands, then begin to add the water a bit at a time making sure to really mix it all together and incorporate it before adding any more.
I said around 300 ml of water and you may not need it all or you may need more, the trick is to take your time and mix.
Once you have a rough dough which lifts all the flour off the bowl – you want to empty the bowl out onto a surface and begin to knead the bread dough. The dough will become less sticky and more soft and pliable as you knead (takes around 7 or 8 mins).
Next you need to put the dough back in its bowl and cover with some cling film then leave it somewhere warm (not hot) for at least an hour, or until it has doubled in size. Don’t be over eager to force this to happen quickly, the longer this takes – the better the flavour.
There you go, that’s the basis of the dough.
A basic sauce
What makes pizza so good is that combination of bread, tomato sauce and loads of cheese, so here is my basic pizza sauce recipe.
- 2 tins plum tomatoes
- 4 cloves of garlic – chopped
- chopped herbs of your choice
- salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
You can just spread tomato puree over your base, we do that when we are just wanting a quick pizza fix, but for the luxurious pizza, you can’t beat a rich sauce.
In your frying pan, heat the oil and garlic until it just starts to sizzle then drop in your plum tomatoes and squish them up with your wooden spoon, squish them good.
Let that heat for a few minutes until it just starts boiling, give it a minute or two on the boil and then you want to push all of this through a sieve, to make it nice and smooth, really work it.
Put your new smooth mixture back in the pan and let it simmer and reduce and maximize all those lovely flavours, this is a good point to add any herbs, really let it thicken up, but stir it frequently to stop it burning.
Put it all together
Now you get to have some fun.
Split your dough into two, and get shaping. You can roll it with a rolling pin, but I’ve found (over the years) that the rolling pin makes for denser dough. It seems to produce a much lighter, crisper base if you take the extra time to flatten it out with you fingers and by stretching.
There is no rule saying your pizza has to be round, just make it out to the shape you want and thickness you want. I like my pizzas thin and crispy so I go for quite thin.
The dough will stick so flour the surface shaping.
I have a pizza stone I cook on (gives a fantastic crispy base) but basically you want to put your pizza onto either a hot pizza stone or hot oven tray when it’s ready to cook. So this is what I do.
I put my pizza stone in the oven (on full) or on my garden grill and let it get really hot. REALLY hot!
While that’s heating up, I shape my dough and then I put it onto another oven tray to use as a peel. A pizza peel is basically a large flat surface you can use to slip your pizza onto the hot stone. The trick to this to stop it sticking, and so you get it to slide off nice and easy, is to dust the peel/tray with flour or polenta. LOTS.
So dust your tray, and put your freshly shaped dough on there.
Now the fun starts, you get to top your pizza
Basically, there are no rules, add whatever you want. You can try to go with traditional toppings like margarita or Neapolitan or you can just add anything you like. One of my favourites is red onion, peppers, mushrooms, chorizo, and mozzarella. But I’m also partial to a Florentine, which is spinach and egg. Don’t knock it until you’d tried it.
If you are adding meat, like chicken, cook it before you add it to your pizza. It’s going to be in the oven for less than 15 minutes so cook your meat ahead of time to make sure it’s not raw when your pizza is ready.
The only other advice I’d give here is in the order of your toppings. Basically, sauce first, ingredients and then lumps of cheese last. The cheese will melt over all your topping goodies and stop them burning.
The one exception to this rule is on a Florentine, the eggs go on last.
Cooking your pizza
Pizzas are cooked on a high heat, quite quickly. The hot stone or tray will cook the base from the bottom up and the general heat of the oven will cook your toppings. So oven has been on full heating your pizza stone, turn it down to about 215 C and very carefully so as not to burn yourself, use your tray to slide your pizza on there. You might have to wiggle it a bit.
That’s you. Give it ten minutes and check on it, then just give it a minute or so at a time until you are happy that it’s cooked.
Then sit back and enjoy your first home-made pizza.
Now, we use either a conventional oven or sometimes the grill in the garden, but you need to be aware of how you are cooking yours and adjust your times accordingly – for instance, a proper pizza oven is way hotter so cooks the pizza quicker.
Also, it’s worth noting, if you want that crusty bubbly goodness from your base, you need at least a stone to cook it on. It’s the sudden shock of INTENSE heat that causes this.