Friday, 5 September 2014

The Perfect Pizza

Let's face it. Good pizza is awesome. Do you even know anyone who doesn't like pizza?! For a cheapo dinner date with mates it's perfect, but made at home it's somehow more special (and seems healthier somehow?!). I would define a good pizza as being so thin it almost can't bear the weight of the topping, and talking of toppings, I have learnt over the years that less is more. Cover your pizza in a greedy mish mash of toppings and you will have a soggy mess. Adorn your pizza sparingly and you will have a delicious light crispy mouthful of heaven. Pizza is getting really good in the UK now, finally steering away from deep pan and stuffed crusts (HOTDOG STUFFED CRUSTS, WTF?????). The most memorable slice of pizza I had was in a train station cafe in Riccione on the way to an Italian girlfriend's hen do. I decided then and there that I should probably be living in Italy if that was what you got in the station cafe. Soggy overpriced croissants and extortionate crap tea this wasn't.

As usual, I digress. Below is what I reckon to be a great pizza recipe, yes it's a slight effort to make it from scratch but make a batch on a rainy day (oh lots of them this AUGUST) and freeze what you don't use. I thought it might be a it of a lie that you can freeze the dough but it's true! And you look completely badass when you can just whip up home made pizzas with half an hours notice. This is based on Jamie Oliver's recipe which I have used forever.

Makes 6-8 massive pizzas. I hate floury mess so I like to throw all the dry ingredients in a bowl to mix and knead but do what you want. Sieve 1kg strong bread flour/00 flour/plain flour if that's all you've got into a massive bowl/clean work surface with a teaspoon of salt. In a jug mix 2 of those nifty 7g sachets of yeast with 650ml lukewarm water, 4tbsp olive oil and 1tbsp sugar, mix well and leave for a minute. Pour into the well. Make a well in your flour, and using your fingers/fork/wooden spoon gradually swirl the wet into the dry and once incorporated get kneading, for about 5 ish minutes until you have a really nice smooth springy dough. Dust a bowl (can be same one) with flour, plop your dough in, sprinkle a little flour on top, cover with a damp tea towel and leave somewhere warm to prove until doubled in size (about an hour). This is where a fancy proving drawer seen recently on GBBO would come in handy but seriously who has one of those? Pre heat oven to max temp and put in a large baking tray/sheet.

Once all puffed up, take out of the bowl and on a floured surface 'knock it back'. I always like this bit, basically gently knead the air out of it. Break off a (girl sized) fist sized ball (at this point portion out the dough and individually freeze what you don't need in clingfilm) and roll it out into a really thin circle. Get it onto the now piping hot baking sheet and quickly smear some tomato sauce* and your toppings. Go easy remember! Shove back into oven and cook for about 6 minutes until golden and crispy. I won't tell you what to put on your pizza because half the fun is creating your own, if you have an awesome base whatever you put on will be great. Except pineapple, anything but pineapple.

* for tomato sauce I simply let a tin of chopped tomatoes, a squirt of tomato purée and a smashed garlic clove with seasoning, bubble down to a really thick sauce which takes about half an hour if that.