To be honest, it was a tough call to not dedicate an entire site to pizza. I love pizza. I consider it to be one of the most comforting and tasty meals. My love of pizza inspired me to build a pizza oven in my back garden, but even before then I have always preferred making pizzas from scratch.
One item I consider essential to cooking pizza in a domestic oven is a pizza stone. They cost about £10 and you can pick one up in your supermarket or on amazon (like this one) – You can also cook bread on it. A peel is useful too, although you can use a baking sheet to transfer the dough to the oven.
Pizza dough can be ready to use within a couple of hours, but for great results, prove in the fridge for 24 hours before using.
As with any food you’re cooking from basic ingredients, by the best you can find/afford. Attention to details like the quality of the tomatoes and the flour will elevate the dish for very little extra spend.
Ingredients for 5 pizzas
500g of OO Pizza flour (or white bread flour)
1/2 tablespoon of salt
Most of a sachet of quick yeast
250(ish) mls of warm water
Olive oil for proving
Tin of whole plum tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Mix the flour and salt and yeast in a large bowl
Add in most of the water and mix until all the flour is taken up by the dough ball
Add more water if the dough feels too dry. You want the dough to be sticky, but able to be handled
Kneed and stretch the dough for 5-10 mins until it’s smooth and stretchy or if you’re lucky enough to have a machine, use a dough hook for 5 minutes or so (I always kneed the dough for a minute or so after the machine has done it’s magic)
Put the ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise (prove) for an hour
At this point you can divide and roll the dough into 5 balls, leave for another 30 minutes and then use to make your pizza bases. If you have planned ahead, you can put the 5 balls on a oiled tray, covered with clingfilm, into the fridge overnight. If so take the dough out of the fridge an hour before you want to use it.
Pre-heat the oven (with the stone in it) to it’s maximum temperature
Roll or stretch the dough ball into a rough round. Try and get it as thin as possible.
Put the thin pizza base on the peel or baking sheet (make sure you’ve dusted it with flour to stop the base sticking)
For a margarita pizza, empty the tin of tomatoes into a bowl and scrunch them up with your fingers (this prevents the seeds from cracking which can make the pizza bitter). Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle some of the tomato mix on the base (sparingly). Leave a 5cm gap around the edge of the pizza. Tear some mozzarella and dot it around the base on the tomato, then put some basil leaves on top.
Slide the base off the tray or peel directly on to the hot stone (you can take it out of the oven first if that helps).
Cook until the mozzarella is melted and beginning to brown. You can also use a fish slice to lift the edge and rotate the pizza. This helps it to cook evenly and lets the steam out from under the base.
#tip – don’t be tempted to put to much on a pizza. This isn’t pizza hut. Less is more.
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