Now, I will admit my heathen-ness and say that Domino’s is awesome. I luuuuurve it when I’m on my way home from work, on a cramped bus, surrounded by arsehole commuters and then I get a text “…IT’S TUESDAY!!” … “TWO FOR TUESDAY!!” woohoo!
For Christmas, we were bought a pizza stone. This may or may not have been some kind of hint to cool it on the domino’s but either way, it’s been a god send. Nothing beats the satisfaction of making your very own pizza, base and all, from scratch (when I say from scratch, no, I did not milk my cow to make the cheese or grow my own veg, we’re still in London for Christ’s sake) and it’s also really fun! You can get very inventive with the toppings and I will share my top 3 with you…
Start with your base. I scoured the internet to find one that didn’t need to be left for a million years to rise (when I want pizza, I want it now, not in 2 – 4 hours time, thanks very much) and here it is:
This could easily make 4 – 5 large pizzas, or loads of little ones…
300g strong white flour
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp table salt
1 tbsp olive oil
200 ml warm water
Now here’s the tricky bit… ready..?
Throw your flour, yeast & salt into a big bowl, add the olive oil, then the water and stir it with a wooden spoon until it’s a gooey mess.
Didn’t exactly need a masters degree for that, did we.
On a floured surface, knead the dough for about 5 minutes saying clever GBBO related things like “ooh, this gluten is very stretchy” without having a clue what you’re talking about.
If you’re not sure about how to knead then stretch the dough out, turn it back over on itself, turn 90º and repeat. Really put some oomph into it, and add more flour to the surface if you need to (you will need to, unless you want sticky worktops forever and ever).
Once your dough is well kneaded and smoothy smooth, pop it back into the bowl whilst you make your tomato sauce, sort your ingredients and have a well deserved glass of wine, you’ve been working very hard with all that kneading you poor thing.
Right, turn your oven on to 220º / gas mark 7.
To make the tomato sauce, empty a small jar of passata into a bowl, peel and smash the bujesus out of a clove of garlic, pop that in and also add some dried herbs, or fresh herbs if you have the luxury of a garden. Stir it round, et viola. That was, if at all possible, more simple than making the dough.
Pop your tommy sauce to one side and get your dough back. Generously flour the surface and plonk you dough onto it. Give it a few more kneads just for good measure then cut into quarters. Roll each quarter out until they’re about the thickness of a 10p piece (no need to get one out and check). If the dough is too thin, it will stick to your pizza stone / baking tray. This happened to me and I had to eat one of my pizzas with a spoon. Not exactly the sexy Italian eating I was after, no no no. However, if the dough is too thick it won’t cook through and you won’t get a delicious crispy crust.
Now, my 3 toppings of choice are:
Chorizo & Manchego
Beetroot & Onion – MY FAVOURITE!
Watercress, Pear & Stilton.
Each pizza starts with a layer of tomato sauce.
Then scatter your chosen ingredients around in a very arty-farty kinda way.
^ chorizo & manchego cheese (chicken would also be a delicious added extra).
^ beetroot & onion. Almost all supermarkets now just sell little packs of cooked beetroot that only have a hint on vinegar. Use these and not jars of pickled beetroot or you’ll end up with a pizza with a soggy bottom. God forbid!
Sprinkle this pizza with a bit of cheddar…
Watercress, Pear & Stilton next:
Now, if you’re a big blue cheese fan then go wild. If you’re a bit like me and have to be in the mood for it then only add a little bit and more of the other ingredients. Even if you hate the blue I guarantee that you’ll like this combination. The watercress is very peppery & the pear is sweet which can offset the harshness of stilton. You can also use spinach instead of watercress.
Aren’t they pretty! Folded over crusts are optional but I wanted a barrier between the melted cheese and my nice new pizza stone which was pointless, because it’s now a mess anyway. All in the name of pizza…
Bake in the oven for 8 – 10 minutes, until the crusts and golden & crispy and the cheese is bubbling away.
The dough will keep for a few days in the fridge. If it dries out then add a tad more water and always give it another little knead when you use it again.
Devour. And say cool Italian things like Ciao! and Mama Mia! and … urrrm … Bellissima!