Pizza is one of those simple foods I get a lot of pleasure from making. There’s something very satisfying about baking your own bread from scratch. I’ll tentatively bring the ingredients together, looking like a big doughy mess, but then all fears subside after some kneading, when I produce a lovely ball of springy dough from nothing other than flour, yeast and honey. It’s something that never fails to excite me every time I do it.
Baking bread is a source. When you want to slow things down, go bake some bread. You might be covered head to toe in flour and your kitchen might look like a bomb site (or maybe that’s just me?), but it’s worth it.
The first time I made my own bread I tried mixing the flour and water directly on the work surface by making a well in the middle of the flour, just like the pros, but of course the water broke through the flour and it went everywhere. I learnt very quickly to mix the ingredients in a bowl first, then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and then you can knead.
Once you learn how to make your own pizza you’ll never go back. I love it on a Saturday evening for dinner with a green salad on the side and a bottle of red wine.
You might not have your own stone baking oven, but if you make your own dough and crank the oven up as hot as it will go, you’ll produce a very good pizza. I use a metal pizza tray with holes in the bottom which I find really handy.
Some basic bread recipes use sugar but I like to use clear honey, it seems to give a better result compared to refined white sugar.
Where you go with toppings is entirely up to you, there are no limitations. For me personally I think the less ingredients you have on a pizza the better. There’s nothing worse than a pizza with too many toppings. One of my all time favourite pizza toppings has to be one of the simplest – homemade tomato sauce, topped with parmesan, lots of finely chopped garlic, wilted spinach and finished off with a sprinkling of dried chilli flakes.
1 onion finely chopped
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
1tbsp of tomato puree
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1tsp of sugar
A glass of water
Salt and pepper
3 x 7g packets of dried yeast
625ml / 1 pint of tepid water
500g strong bread flour
500g plain flour
Extra flour for dusting
For the tomato sauce heat some olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and sweat down the onion and garlic for about five minutes. Then add the tomato puree and cook this out for a couple of minutes. Now add the tins of chopped tomatoes and the sugar. Allow the tomatoes to cook down over a low heat for about 15 minutes and add some water as needed to make sure the sauce isn’t too thick. Season to taste.
To make the pizza dough, first of all dissolve the yeast and honey in half the tepid water.
In a large bowl, mix the two flours together with the salt and make a well in the centre. Pour in the dissolved yeast mixture. With four fingers of one hand, make circular movements from the centre, moving outwards and slowly bring together the flour and yeast mixture, until all the yeast mix is soaked up. Then pour in the rest of the tepid water and incorporate all the flour to make a moist dough. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface.
Now you get to knead. Just roll, push and fold the dough over for about five minutes.
Flour both your hands well, and lightly flour the top of dough. Make it into a round, and place back into the mixing bowl. Score the dough deeply with a sharp knife, which will allow the dough to relax as it proves. Cover the dough with cling film and leave beside a warm oven to prove until the dough has doubled in size. This should take about an hour.
When the dough has doubled in size, give it another knead for a couple of minutes. Make into a round and divide into four small rounds of dough. This recipe will give you four pizza bases.
Take one portion of the dough and roll out into a rough circle. I use a metal pizza tray. Lay the pizza base onto the pizza tray and you’re ready to build your pizza.
The pizza should be ready in about 10 to 12 minutes as long as your oven is preheated to its maximum temperature.