Who’s for pizza?
Mr E & I adore pizza. Up until a couple of years ago we would always buy frozen manufactured pizzas when we fancied something quick and easy.
But all that has now changed.
We first tried making our own pizza base a couple of years ago using a yeasted mixture and you know what, we’ve never looked back. They are amazing, so full of flavour and freshness. And of course it’s so much easier to custom make your own pizza to the flavours you like or fancy. Which obviously means you know exactly what’s gone into your meal!
Yes, of course, there’s a little more time involved than just opening a shop bought packet and throwing it in the oven; but not that much more. The pizza dough can be made well ahead of time; I make our dough in the morning and pop it into the fridge to prove for several hours! Yes I know it sounds odd, but I do this every time we want pizza for our evening meal and it’s a technique which has never let me down. Dough develops so much more flavour when it’s been allowed to prove slowly rather than quickly in a warm place. So whether you’re off to work, going for a long walk, visiting family or what ever your day holds, you can make the dough ahead of time, place it in the fridge to do its ‘thing’ and then return home to shape your pizza base, pop on the toppings, bake it and enjoy the flavours.
We make our pizza dough primarily with white bread flour and a little wholemeal bread flour. We personally think it’s far nicer; so much more flavour than a white pizza base. But if you just fancy a white dough, replace the wholemeal flour with more white.
Now Mr E & I make one large pizza to share, but if you prefer you could easily divide the dough into portions and then make individual pizzas to suit family taste buds. I’m sure the children would love to dress their own pizza.
Regarding the tomato sauce, the use of a 400g tin of tomatoes obviously makes a LOT of sauce, but I simply use the 3 or 4 teaspoon quantity and then portion the remaining sauce into small Tupperware containers and freeze it for another day and another pizza.
Homemade Pizza with Feta Cheese
Yield: 1 large pizza
Serves: 2 adults, generously
Time: Dough 15 minutes, plus proving time. Tomato sauce 15 minutes. Baking time 10-12 minutes.
You will need:
1 large flat baking tray (ideally with no sides)
Grease proof paper
For the pizza dough
50g Strong Wholemeal bread flour
160g Strong White bread flour
3g Easybake Yeast
1 tbsp. Virgin Olive Oil
125ml approx. Lukewarm water.
For the tomato Sauce
400g tin tomatoes
pinch of sugar
pinch of salt
generous squirt of tomato puree
generous squirt of garlic puree (or 1 or 2 garlic cloves)
1-2 tsp dried basil (or fresh)
For the topping
3 medium mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
40-50g feta cheese cubed
2 handful of mozerella
3 tsp vegetarian basil pesto
5 cherry tomatoes (optional)
How to make it:
1. Make the pizza dough. Place the flours, salt and yeast in a good size bowl. Combine with your hand. Make a well in the flour. Add the olive oil & two thirds of the water. With your hand mix the flour into the liquid aiming to make a dough. Add more liquid as required. Once all the flour has been picked up with the dough and the bowl is ‘clean’, place the pizza dough onto the work surface.
2. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes.
3. Once it is smooth and stretchy place into a large clean bowl and cover with either cling film or a new (clean) shower-cap. Place either in the fridge (if you don’t require the dough for several hours) or warm place if you’re looking to eat within the next hour or two. Leave the dough until it has doubled in size.
4. Meanwhile make the tomato sauce topping. Place the tinned tomatoes (cutting the tomatoes up if you buy whole tomatoes, like us), sugar, salt, tomato purée, garlic purée and basil in a pan. Stir to combine. Place on the hob over a low to medium heat and allow to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until the sauce has reduced by about half. Stir regularly to avoid the mixture from sticking and burning. You’re aiming for a thick sauce.
5. Fifteen minutes before you’re ready to assemble the pizza, remove the dough from the fridge, to bring back up to room temperature.
6. Preheat the oven to 250C / 230 Fan / Gas 9. Place a flat pizza tray in the oven to be heating.
7. Place the pizza dough on a lightly floured work surface and knock-back. Start stretching the dough to form your pizza base. It will soon start to feel as though it wants to spring back. Leave it for a couple of minutes whilst you prepare your pizza toppings.
8. Gently complete stretching the dough to form the pizza base, about 28 – 30cm diameter. Remember you don’t want it too thick so it’s not cooked through; but not too thin so the dough tears. Place onto a piece of greaseproof paper. Slide this onto a large chopping board. This will allow you to transfer the dressed uncooked pizza onto the heated cooking tray far more easily.
9. Place 3 or 4 teaspoons of the tomato sauce onto the pizza base & spread out. Top with the remaining ingredients, finally dotting the pesto randomly over the pizza. Remember ‘Less is More’, the more topping you add, the more likely you will end up with an undercooked and soggy pizza base.
10. Remove the heated baking tray from the oven. Slide the uncooked pizza from the chopping board onto the baking tray. Place the tray back in the oven and bake for 10 – 12 minutes. You may need to rotate the tray after about 8 minutes.