I don’t want to sound like one of those smug women who brags about how she cooks everything from scratch, knows the exact vitamin content of every meal she serves up and would just die if her child discovered Haribo. Mainly because I am not that woman. Frankly I think the love of Haribo is genetic, so my children don’t stand a chance.
However I do like us to have a baseline healthy, balanced diet. I am genuinely fascinated by food and cooking, so it’s not too much bother for me to learn recipes, try out something new and explore what works for my family and what doesn’t.
I’ve been enjoying making homemade pizzas for a few years now. At first I did everything from scratch, even the tomato sauce but as I think it’s a pack of lies that strained tomatoes will ever reduce down to a thick sauce, I have learnt to cut some corners here and there.
Making pizza dough is really easy and produces so much tastier, more satisfying pizzas. Unlike bread, there’s actually very little that can go wrong with a pizza dough. I’m going to pass on what I do and if you haven’t already discovered how easy it really is, get on the homemade pizza train.
Jamie has a good recipe in his ‘Jamie’s Kitchen’ book but I’m sharing one I got from Annabel Langbein’s ‘Essential’ book. I am telling you the method I use, which is slightly different to Annabel’s.
2 cups of warm water (like baby’s bath warm)
2 teaspoons sugar (I use caster but you could use soft brown or a couple of tablespoons of honey if you are that way inclined)
2 teaspoons active dried yeast (essentially one sachet from those handy boxes you can buy)
5 cups of high grade/bread flour
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
Measure out your warm water and add the sugar, stir until it dissolves. Sprinkle the yeast on top and gently stir in. Leave for 10 minutes until it has a nice beery head on it.
Weigh out the flour and add in the salt. Thoroughly stir the salt around so it’s spread through the flour; that way there is no chance the yeast hits a big lump of salt and loses all its super powers.
Create a hole in the middle of the flour. Add the oil to the yeasty water and then pour into the flour bowl.
Use your hand to mix the water into the flour until it’s a nice gooey mess with lots of unmixed flour all around. At this point I plonk it on the work surface and put the floury bowl to one side. Knead the dough until it’s smooth, add flour if it’s too sticky but I find if you persevere through the stickiness, after one minute it becomes easier to handle. I knead for about five minutes, 10 if it’s been that kind of a day. Then I return the dough to the bowl. Tightly wrap clingfilm over the top of the bowl and find somewhere warm for the bowl to sit for a couple of hours.
After two hours you get the now twice-the-original-size dough and bang it around on the work surface again. Roll it out into a fat log and cut it into four lumps. Two lumps I put in freezer bags and put in the freezer. Each lump can make one good sized pizza, so really useful to have in the freezer. Just get it out the morning you want pizza and it will be good to go whenever you are.
Roll out each of the two fresh lumps into a pizza shape, I go for random oblong and I go pretty thin.
Here comes the cheat. I use a good quality pasta sauce for my tomato sauce. I favour something with extra basil and garlic but you could go chunky vegetable or spicy chorizo if you want.
Spread half a jar on each pizza base. This week I followed up with sprinkled chorizo chunks. Then I roasted garlic and sliced red pepper, which went on next. Then I added fried onions and broccoli. And finally some lightly seared halloumi, as it’s the only cheese that doesn’t seem to aggravate my dairy intolerant tummy. Of course some mozzarella or cheddar would do very well. And really for toppings, go for whatever you fancy or what needs eating up.
Of course the topping bit can be where you invite your children to join in. Which I do if they have friends over but normally, I can do without the stress.
Put it in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes. Eat it with salad or corn on the cob or just on its own.
The four of us generally only manage one of the pizzas, so Gareth and I then have a quarter slice for the next two days of lunches. Nice.
Hope this is as easy for you as it is for me. And report back on successful topping combinations!