By popular request, here is my pizza dough recipe! I hope it gives you as much pleasure as it has me!
I use multiples of the following:
1lb of white bread flour
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 sachet of dried yeast
1 cup of warm water
2 lots of this tends to do the family, 3 if we have visitors, assuming each person has their own pizza.
Mix this all together in a large bowl and knead well. I do my kneading in the bowl, allowing me to wander around while working if there is something interesting going on in another room.
The dough should be moist and stretchy, with little bits sticking to your hands as you work, but not a cloggy mess. Add extra flour/water in very small amounts until it feels right. You should see the yeast starting to work as you knead, with little air bubbles starting to form.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel and set it to one side while you get the sauce started.
The sauce (makes about the right amount for 2 lots of dough)
I start with a small onion, half a red pepper and half a green pepper, pealed, deseeded and chopped roughly.
Fry these for a few minutes until the onions start to brown.
Put this into a blender.
Add a can of tomatoes, some garlic, mixed Italian seasoning (I used to mess around with seperate oregano, basil, etc but gave up!) black pepper, a little salt and sugar. This is something that I cannot give set amounts for as I tend to just chuck it in!
Blend the lot until it is smooth.
Pour this into a sauce pan, heat gently and then allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly, until it has reduced to a nice spreadable sauce.
Making the Pizzas
While the sauce simmers, lightly oil whatever you are going to cook your pizzas on. I currently use some metal trays that have holes in the bottom, but am tempted to get a stone at some point.
I have found that 8-10 ounces of dough makes a good 12" pizza. The one in the previous photo used 10 ounces.
Gently tear of a handful of dough from what should now be a big fluffy lump of dough in your bowl, and weigh it to make sure you have roughly the right amount.
Form the dough into a ball in your hands and then roll it out on a well floured board/table/worktop. Try to get it nice and round, but it is better to go with whatever shape you end up with than to scrunch it up and start again, as this will force a lot of air out of the dough.
When the pizza base is nearing the size that you want, you have 2 choices:
- Carry on rolling until it is the right size.
- Pick it up and finish it by hand. Imagine that you have a baseball glove on and have the dough draped over your finger tips. Now flick your hand up and give it a twist at the same time. The dough should make about a quarter or half turn and then land back on your fingers again. Keep doing this to stretch the dough out. I am no expert at this (I have seen Italians doing all sorts of tricks that would put cocktail waiters to shame) but it does make the base better, keeping more air in the dough and making it more fluffy when cooked.
When the bases are all sorted out, leave them to rise for around half an hour.
Decorating the pizzas
My favourite way is to put sauce and cheese on each pizza (with an optional extra sprinkle of oregano) and then have a selection of toppings that people can use to decorate their own pizza, especially if there are kids involved. This is a chance to encourage the eating of lots of fresh vegetables - baby plum tomatoes, mushrooms, sweetcorn, peppers.
I tend to cook my pizzas at around 190C in a non-fan oven, for around 20 minutes, turning regularly and judging when it is done by the colour of the base. I have found that this makes the bases rise really well and gives enough time for vegetables that have been added to cook. I am sure that others will alter this to their own tastes, though!
Cut the pizza into slices, and stuff it into the large hole in the lower part of your face, washing it down with a drink of your choosing - I recommend a good red wine, but Coke/Pepsi etc is also good, especially if there are kids involved. You could even go for a diet drink without looking silly if you have chosen healthy toppings!