A warm slice of pizza with delicious toppings and melting cheese devoured while watching the telly is stuff Friday evenings and lazy weekends are made of.
As easy as it may seem to pick up the phone and order a quick pizza or pop a frozen pizza into the oven, nothing quite beats the fresh taste of home-made pizza. Self-made pizza including the dough for the base and a wild choice of toppings is a different story altogether.
We’d tried making pizza dough from scratch a very long time back but the attempt was not quite successful. However, after having an epiphany and learning the simple trick of leaving dough to raise in a warm oven (ok, I didn’t have an epiphany, I found the trick through a bit of internet research ;)), we decided to give it another go. Turns out that making your own pizza is not that demanding a chore because you’re most likely to have the ingredients needed for the dough already at hand. That leaves you with the task of coming up with imaginative toppings you’d like on your pizza. This is where you can truly have fun and let your imagination run wild! :)
I must admit that the pizza you see in the pictures here was made ages ago which means this post has been in the making a long time since (*sheepish grin*). We had so much fun with it that we’ve made it more than once since and it’s become one of our firm favourites.
Ingredients for pizza dough
Although you can find numerous resources online for pizza dough recipes, we followed one from the ‘Plenty’ book by Yottam Ottolenghi where he outlines a pizza dough recipe as part of an ‘egg, spinach & pecorino pizza’. The original recipe uses ingredients to make 6 individual pizzas. So, the measurements below are pared down to make one medium-sized pizza, big enough to make a hearty meal for 2 people
330g strong white flour
7g dried yeast (I use the Tesco brand dried yeast which comes in handy individual 7g satchets)
about 215ml lukewarm water
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp olive oil
For the sauce -
about 250ml of passata
salt and pepper to taste
dried oregano or any other herb you prefer
Ingredients for the topping
Again, this is entirely up to what you fancy. Ours was a combination of ham, salami, peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives, and of course, cheese ;)
To make the dough, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Once dissolved, add this to the flour with the salt and oil. Knead everything together until it forms a smooth dough. This should take about 10 minutes. Lightly grease a large bowl with a little bit of oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with a wet towel or clingfilm. Place the bowl inside an oven that’s been made warm already by turning it on at the lowest setting (this applies only if you live in a not-so-warm place like Ireland where it’s hardly warm enough at room temperature for the yeast to do it’s work). Allow the dough to rise to double its size. This takes about 1-1.5 hours.
While the dough is rising, you can start on making the sauce for the base of the pizza. Heat a pan on medium heat. Pour in a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the passata, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs. Once this comes to a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer (covered if you have a lid to avoid splatter) until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and let it cool.
Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a disc that’s equally thick all around. The diameter of the disc depends on how big you’d like your pizza or if you have a pizza pan, it should be big enough to cover its base. The dough made with the above measurements should give you a medium-sized pizza so ideally the diameter should be roughly around 12 inches.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade. Transfer the rolled out disc to the pizza pan or a baking sheet. Spread the prepared sauce evenly over the dough base followed by your toppings. A generous sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese on the top is highly recommended ;)
Place the pan/sheet in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or so until you see the crust turning a nice dark brown. Rotate the sheet half way through to allow for even baking.
Remove from oven. Cut into slices big or small depending on how hungry you are and enjoy your own piping hot authentic pizza della casa :D