Monday, 21 October 2013

Easy Home-made Pizza

Saturday night is pizza night in our household. If we're feeling a bit flush we might head to a favourite local pizza joint (Acapella or Prego on North View, perhaps, though we usually reserve the latter for a Monday night when you can enjoy a wallet-friendly two for one on all pizzas.) But more often than not I use the relative calm of a Saturday evening chez nous to perfect my pizza dough and try out some new topping combinations. For anyone scared by the word 'dough' - and I admit I was till I started making it myself - don't be. It's actually pretty hard to get wrong. According to the kids, my home-made pizzas win out against shop-bought alternatives, which is high praise indeed, given how fussy the two of them are.

Easy and incredibly cheap, I guarantee once you start making your own pizzas you won't look back. Here's my fool-proof pizza dough recipe:

  • 250g plain white flour
  • 250 strong white bread flour or OO Italian flour
  • 7g sachet of fast-action yeast
  • 2 tsp flaky salt
  • 300ml warm water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • Packet of natural bread crumbs
  • Olive oil spray
The above quantity makes 4 regular sized pizzas. It's best to use proper pizza baking sheets, though regular rectangular sheets will do.


In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients, expect the breadcrumbs. Once flour, yeast and salt is combined, slowly add your olive oil, mixing in as you go. Do the same with the water. If the dough seems a little dry add a few extra drops of water, but go carefully or your mixture will get too wet. Combine the ingredients into a dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Now for the kneading, a great work-out for the old bingo wings! A good dough needs at least 10 minutes kneading to get the dough aerated and elastic. Once you're happy with it, spray a clean bowl with olive oil spray, add your ball of dough and cover with cling-film and a clean tea towel. Place the dough somewhere warm, like a sunny window sill or in front of a warm oven, and leave to proof, for at least at hour, or a bit longer if possible. You're looking for the dough to double in size. 

Ready to slam in the oven...

When the dough is nearly ready heat your oven quite high and throw you pizza sheets in to warm up. In the meantime prepare your toppings. I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to pizza - no pineapple or sweetcorn for me - and I tend to stick with traditional combinations. You can't mess up a simple Margherita of ready-made passata topped with slices of mozzarella, a sprinkling of oregano, a few basil leaves and a swirl of olive oil. I might add in a few slices of Parma ham, Italian pepperoni or a few anchovies and a handful of capers. I sometimes mix things up by eschewing mozzarella for goats cheese, which I combine with some sweet red onion, slowly softened and lightly caramelised in a pan.

When you're read to start assembling your pizzas, take a sheet out of the oven and sprinkle with your dried breadcrumbs - this gives that essential crunch to your base which makes your pizzas extra authentic. Roll out your dough and position it on your sheet before adding your toppings. They take just 10 minutes or so to cook in the oven. 

Ready to wolf down with a glass of chilled white
Simple, quick and devoid of all those nasty additives hiding in manufactured pizzas - what's not to love?


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