Pizza

We make pizza at home pretty often, and have done for years. I’ve spent a long time refining the process, and I’m very pleased with it now.

This is probably not the place to find an authentic Italian pizza recipe. However, I’m sure it’s amongst the best pizza you can actually make yourself, at home, without owning a wood-fired oven or anything fancier than a pizza stone.

Dough

I make the dough in my bread machine. This isn’t cheating. The machine does a great job of kneading and proving the dough in a temperature controlled enviroment, giving predictable results at any time of year. The pizza dough program on my machine takes 45 minutes. The ingredients are simple:

  • 4g dried yeast
  • 200g wholemeal bread flour
  • 200g white bread flour
  • 2tsp salt
  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 250ml water

This is all done by weight, with the pan of the bread maker stood on the scale.

  
This makes three thin bases. I roll these out – I’ve tried stretching and throwing them like off the telly but it doesn’t work for me.

In the meantime the oven, with the pizza stone in it, has heated up to 225C.

You can go two ways here – part-cook the bases and freeze them, which makes pizza night easier, and easier for the kids to get involved in (they can take their time decorating a frozen base, and you don’t have to worry about them tearing it or burning themselves) or put the base straight on the stone, top it and cook it immediately. If you use frozen, part-cooked bases, you get a crispier base too.

Either way, put a base on the stone. I don’t have space in my kitchen for a unitasking tool like a pizza peel and it looks easy to screw up (isn’t that how calzone was invented?).

  
For part-cooking, put the base of a springform cake tin on top to prevent the base popping up like a flying saucer:

  
Then cook for 6 minutes. Take off the cover and put on a cooling rack, before wrapping in cling film and freezing.

  
Otherwise, you need to work quickly. I use tomato purée for a sauce. Everything else I’ve tried has been too much effort and/or too wet. Squirt it on in a spiral then spread it out with a spoon. I then add dried or fresh thyme, and here some chopped jalapeños, just because everything is better with jalapeños:

  
Add your toppings, I like to use no more than three. It’s a pizza, not a buffet. I use fresh mozzarella balls, which you can tear thin layers off, just right for melting and cooking properly. Cook for 10-12 minutes until you get this, which just has pepperoni and cheese:

  
Devour. But first top the next one and put that in. You’ll want another.

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