I’ve taken to making home-made pizza lately and it’s so easy. It’s a great idea for dinner parties, too, but it does require some forethought and planning (not the usual way I like to cook… but worth it nonetheless). You can buy instant pizza yeast, too, which means if you don’t have time, you can still get the dough proofed quickly.
Tomato Pizza Sauce
- 1 large can diced or whole tomatoes (diced works a little better)
- half an onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- olive oil
- fresh oregano
- salt and pepper
In a large-ish pot (yes, that’s a scientific measurement), heat up the olive oil, add the onions and garlic and fry these for a few minutes. Once they’re slightly cooked, then add in the herbs and tomatoes. Ideally, the sauce tastes best if you can let it simmer on low heat for 1-2 hours.
TIPS: This pizza sauce tastes a lot better than out the can and if you make a large batch, it freezes really well. It can also double up as a past sauce or base for other recipes, so it’s worth making extra. If it looks too chunky for your pizzas, then squash the pieces with a potato masher.
Put your oven on to about 400F – make sure it is really hot.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt (I use less usually – up to you)
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- lukewarm water (roughly a cup)
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Make a nice sized hole in the middle (I believe “well” is the culinary term; to me, it looks like ant lion traps). Slowly add water a little bit at a time and mix thoroughly as you go. The dough works best if you use your hands for the whole process. Once the dough starts to stick together and forms more of a single ball, and it pulls away from the sides of the bowl, then it should be ready. If it gets too sticky, then just add a bit more flour. At this point, you need to get your hands dirty. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Just keep pummelling that puppy til it feels nice and springy. Then cover the bowl (with the dough inside of course) with plastic wrap and put the bowl in a warm place.
“Proofing” the Dough
The dough needs to “proof”, i.e. rise, for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It should ideally double in size. Once it’s risen, then bash the bowl a few times on your counter. Use a flat wood surface or board. Cover this in flour. Knead the dough for a few minutes and then roll it flat with a rolling pin. You can cut the dough into the amount of pizzas you want (you can save some for delicious Nutella dessert pizzas). If you’re cooking for quite a few people, then double the mixture above.
Preparing the Bases
Once you’ve rolled out your pizzas, place them on a baking tray. You can let them proof a bit more, but I have no patience so I don’t really bother. Prick the pizzas all over with a fork. Put a generous amount of the pizza sauce on the base and add a splash of olive oil. Cook the bases one at a time for about 5 minutes. Pre-cooking means you’re less likely to end up with raw dough. You can also do this all well in advance, especially if you’re having a dinner party.
I like to use a combination of cheddar and mozzarella, but you can also add Swiss cheese. It’s always nice to put a bit of cheese on the base before adding your toppings, and then putting more on top of the toppings. Cook the pizzas one by one for about 10-15 minutes. Letting them sit for a bit before eating settles the liquids and the cheese.
Some toppings I like to have:
- artichoke hearts
- sundried tomatoes
- sweet peppers
- garlic cloves
- salmon with cream cheese or creme fraiche
- homemade pesto
- pineapple (I’ve done it with tinned and with fresh. Obviously tinned = more convenient)
- rocket/arugala (put this on afterwards)
- avocado (I love to cook this on the pizza but some like to add it afterwards. They are what I like to call wrong).
- a selection of veggies (chopped peppers, courgettes/zucchini, cherry tomatoes, etc.)
It’s always great, if you’re having guests, to get them to bring their own favourites… ends up being a bit of a mouthgasm and makes really good leftovers too….
And of course, you want to save room for Nutella dessert pizzas….