Is there anything better on a Saturday night than beer and pizza? As long as we’re not talking a can of Tennents and a supermarket oven pizza anyway! There’s no excuse for not making your own pizza now and then and it’s guaran-damn-teed to be much better than the frozen ones.
Basically, if you can make bread you can make pizza. It’s really just dough stretched and rolled extra thin so it cooks quickly with a crispy crust. You can do it by hand using the recipe below or chuck it all in a machine to make the dough. The hardest bit is the sauce and if you’re not in the mood to make that you can just buy a jar of passata with herbs as a perfectly good alternative.
For toppings I like to keep things simple. Anchovies, olives and capers with some fresh mozzarella and a little olive oil drizzled on top. Unfortunately I forgot to buy capers and we had to use low-fat mozzarella (it’s close but not quite right). Angela went for prawns, chicken, rocket and tomatoes on hers.
If you don’t have a pizza stone (obviously I need to clean mine, it looks filthy in the pictures) use the bottom of a baking tray or some other oven proof metal dish.
Makes two pizzas
For the dough:
150ml tepid water
15g fresh yeast or 2 teaspoons dried yeast
225g ’00’ flour or plain flour (plus extra for working)
1 1/2 tsp salt
For the sauce:
1/2 onion finely chopped
1/2 clove garlic chopped
200g plum tomatoes
2 tbspn tomato paste
salt and ground pepper
Crushed bay leaf
If the type of yeast you’re using requires it, add it to the water with the sugar to activate it, whisk it up and leave to sit for ten minutes.
Then sift the salt and flour into a large bowl, make a well in the centre and pour the liquid into the middle.
Flour your hands and start mixing the ingredients together to form a dough.
Add a drizzle of olive oil while mixing and a little more water if required.
Once the mix has formed a dough, flour a work surface and remove the dough from the bowl and start kneading.
After 10-15 minutes it should be smooth, place it back in the bowl and leave in a warm place, covered, until it doubles in size.
While it’s rising you can make the sauce.
Softly cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until it’s nice and soft then I add the tomato puree and cook it out for a few minutes.
Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, cover and simmer on a low heat until it’s reduced to a thick sauce.
Whizz it up in a blender and leave to cool
Preheat the oven to as high a temperature as you can get. If you’re using a pizza stone, put it in the oven now to heat up.
Lift up the dough from the bowl and then drop it back down and punch it to get some of the air out.
Divide it into two equal pieces and roll them into balls. Place on a floured surface and cover with 2 bowls for 20 minutes to rise again.
Flatten the dough gently with your fingers then pick it up and slap it down onto the surface to stretch it out.
Gently use a rolling pin to spread it out to your desired size. Make it nice and thin.
If you have a clever way of transferring the topped pizza onto the stone then that’s fine, top the pizza by tearing off chunks of mozzarella, apply anchovies, olives, pancetta or your own desired toppings and then transfer it to the stone or straight onto the shelf of the oven (if doing this place a baking tray on the shelf underneath to catch any cheese or other toppings that might fall down). If you don’t have a clever way of transferring the topped pizza then I would just take the stone out, place the dough on top, add the toppings and put the stone back into the oven. You’ll lose a bit of the benefit of the stone but at least your pizza won’t end up on the floor.
Cook until the edges are nice and golden brown. Shouldn’t take more than 5 or 6 minutes and you’re done.