|Pizza ready to go in the oven|
In our house, Fridays are movie night, when the children choose a DVD from the library and we all sit round eating pizza and watching a film.
The quality of films from Hadleigh library varies a lot – Lemonade Mouth was a surprising hit, who knew that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is quite so enormously long, and I could do without watching Kronk’s New Groove ever again.
Similarly, I’ve tried different options for pizza with varying success.
The nicest ready-made pizzas do seem expensive, so I experimented with adding our own toppings to different bases.
The ready-made bases I tried ages ago were a bit tough and disappointing.
Packets of pizza base mix were more successful, but also quite a lot of effort without saving much money (45p for a packet that makes a single 20cm base at Sainsburys).
Most recently, we settled on using a couple of value part-bake baguettes (50p from Sainsbury’s Basics or 45p from Morrisons Savers).
Last week, fired up with resolutions to use some of the bread flour shoved to the back of my storecupboard (post here), I finally had a go at making home-made pizza dough.
The real bonus was that I had all the ingredients handy – strong bread flour, sachets of dried yeast, warm water, oil, sugar and salt.
Jamie’s “American Hot Pizza Pie” recipe recommended industrial quantities, using 1kg flour to make four 30cm pizzas, whereas Jack’s “Birthday Pizza Dough” recipe, with 210g flour for a single 30cm square pizza, seemed more manageable on a first attempt.
Both used surprisingly similar quantities of yeast (7g for Jamie, 6g for Jack) so it would be easy to scale up the quantities just by adding more flour, oil and water.
This my version, a mix and match from both books:
Complete with different toppings in different places
210g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon sugar
Tiny bit of salt
7g sachet dried yeast
125ml warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Plain flour for dusting the work surface and baking tray.
Weigh the flour out into a mixing bowl, and add the sugar and a tiny bit of salt.
Make a dip in the middle, add the yeast, then pour in some of the water and the tablespoon of olive oil.
Mix the water with a fork, gradually bringing in more of the flour, then adding more water and stiring again, until all the flour and water is mixed together into a lump of dough. I used my hands to bring together the last of the flour into the dough.
Both recipes told me to tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead until it is springy to touch.
I reckon this takes much longer than you might think, if you’re not used to baking bread. Maybe a good five minutes of pushing and stretching and folding, until your arms are expressing strong opinions about their preference for ready-made pizzas? But perhaps more-experienced dough-makers can add their advice in the comments.
Dust the inside of a mixing bowl with flour, put the dough inside, cover with the bowl with cling film and leave it somewhere warm for about an hour. Apparently it’s meant to double in size, although I don’t think mine did.
Use the time to make any tomato sauce for the base and chop up any fillings. I use a 50/50 mix of tomato puree and red pesto as it’s quick, easy and edible, and add grated cheddar, chopped ham, value mozzarella and sliced olives for the children. As I was feeling virtuous, I stuck to value feta, sliced mushrooms and olives on my own part of the pizza. If you need to pre-heat your oven, turn it on now.
Once the dough has risen about as much as you think is likely, turn it out on a floured surface and give it a quick knead. Then roll it out and stretch it a bit into whatever shape you like, aiming to make it 2 to 3 mm thick.
Pop the base on a floured baking tray, spread on the tomato sauce, fling on some toppings, and bung it in a hot oven.
I followed Jack Monroe’s example of superhot for less time – about 220 degrees C/gas mark 7 for 10 minutes. Jamie recommends a lower temperature for longer – 190 degrees C / gas mark 5 for 15 to 20 minutes.
My daughter is very picky about her pizza, but loved this one even when I said it was home-made. Success!
The only issue is making sure I get started early enough so the dough can sit around for an hour, otherwise my son is likely to fall asleep half way through the film.