Pizza from scratch

The last couple of days have been frantic at home and have involved a lot of cooking.  As promised I said I would fess up to any disasters that I have had and yesterday I had a spectacular one!!  I have had an idea about making a courgette and chocolate cake but rather than making a standard sponge I decided that I would make a flourless sponge.  All I can say is BIG MISTAKE!  The end result was a flat custardy in texture brown cake that was well interesting to try.  After encouraging everyone to try it I am ashamed to say it ended up in the bin…  That being said, I intend to learn from my mistakes and try again this time with flour and make a batter not dissimilar to that of a carrot cake and if it works and more importantly tastes nice I will share the recipe in a future blog.

Yesterday, evening with nine of us to feed I thought I would go for something fun but a little different, a sharing food that required everyone’s involvement – Make your own pizzas…  When people have been asked to sum my family up in one word, the word that comes up time and time again is “competitive”, last night was no exception!!!  True to form, the banter was flowing, the jokes were coming quick and fast – but beneath all the ‘tomfoolery’ tensions were running high as to who would be deemed to have made the best pizza!

The preparations started around 2 hours before we actually sat down to eat as the dough needed to be made, kneaded and left to rise and a basic tomato sauce needed to be concocted.  It was quite a sociable affair as everyone was in the kitchen chatting in a desperate attempt to keep cool as yet again the temperature outside was above 40C.

Before everyone piled into the kitchen, where the games would really begin, a couple of us kitchen monkeys headed in to prepare the toppings, of which we had many: cured meats, goats cheese, red pepper to name a few.  After knocking back the dough and dividing it into 8 equal sized balls ready for rolling, we called the competitors family in to make up their pizzas two at a time ready for scrutinising.

Before sharing the recipes I have another confession to make – I didn’t make enough dough.  My family can eat a lot and were still hungry after 8 pizzas, so I ended up making a really quick flat bread dough recipe to use a pizza dough substitute which worked far better than I could have ever imagined so I will share that with you too!

 

Pizza Dough (makes 8 pizzas)

Ingredients:

  • 750g plain flour
  • 1oz fresh yeast (or a packet of dried yeast)
  • 375-400ml water
  • 1 ½  tsp salt
  • 2 ½ tsp ground pepper (optional)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Steps:

  1. Mix together the flour, pepper and salt in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the yeast and sugar.  Add in the olive oil and water then stir together to start the yeast activating.
  3. Combine the wet mix with the dry mix.  Using your hands bring the mix together  until it forms a ball of dough. (Add a little more water if the dough is flaky).
  4. On a lightly floured surface start kneading your dough.  It is going to take roughly 10-15 minutes until the texture changes and becomes the perfect pizza dough.  (What you are looking for is the dough to spring back to its original form when it is pressed lightly with your finger).
  5. Once you have finished kneading the dough place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and set aside for around 2 hours to rise.
  6. After two hours, knock the air out of the dough and cut into eight pieces.
  7. On a lightly floured surface roll out your dough until it is roughly 2/3mm thick.
  8. Place the rolled dough on a piece of baking paper and add a little tomato sauce and then toppings of your choice (for ideas see below).
  9. Cook pizzas in a hot oven roughly 225C fan for 10-12 minutes or until crispy.

 

Simple Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 4 heaped tbsp of tomato puree
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Olive oil for cooking

Steps:

  1. Finely dice the onion and finely chop the garlic and place in a pan with some oil and the sugar then place on a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft.
  2. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, thyme, season with salt and pepper, then stir all the ingredients together and leave to simmer on a very low heat for 5-10 minutes.

Flat bread dough substitute for pizza if time is short

Ingredients:

  • 300g plain flour
  • 175ml water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Steps:

  1. Mix all the ingredients in bowl.
  2. Divide dough into 3 equal sized balls and roll out on a floured surface, cover with a little tomato sauce and the toppings of your choice.
  3. Cook pizzas in a hot oven roughly 225C fan for 10-12 minutes or until crispy.

Pizza Topping Ideas

  • Goats cheese
  • Mozzarella
  • Grated emmental
  • Red pepper
  • Mushrooms
  • Pesto
  • Chilli
  • Salami
  • Bacon
  • Basil leaves
  • Roasted aubergine
  • Parma ham
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Red onion

 

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