We’ve been making our own pizzas for a few years but have never really been happy with the results. We’ve tried pizza stones; posh mozzarella; tomato sauces from both fresh toms and tinned, cooked and uncooked.
Now, at last, we’ve settled on a recipe and an approach, and it’s one that illustrates the Premium Sausage Problem: the trick was using simpler, cheaper ingredients. It makes what we call ‘upmarket takeaway’ pizza — cheesy and salty, but with a crisp crust; think Pizza Express. By popular demand (one person asked), here’s the recipe.
Dough (for two pizzas)
- 300g plain white flour — we use the cheapest available.
- 1 teaspoon dried, fast-acting yeast. (Or 4-5 grams.)
- Half a teaspoon of salt (or to taste).
- Optional: a pinch of dried basil, oregano or mixed Italian herbs.
- 180ml of warm water.
- Bung all the above in a food processor with a dough hook and knead in the machine for five or so minutes, or until it comes together into a nice, shiny looking ball of dough. If it looks too dry after two minutes, add water a drop at a time. (You can also make the dough by hand, which will be messier and take longer, if you prefer.)
- Put a slug of olive oil in a large bowl.
- Shape the dough into a neat ball and turn it in the oil then leave the dough in the bowl covered with clingfilm for a couple of hours.
- Knock it back when it doubles in size and then leave for another hour or so.
- Can/pack of passata (sieved, uncooked tomatoes).
- Pack of grated, hard mozzarella. (Not sloppy mozzarella balls.)
- Salt, dried basil, black pepper.
- Topping 1: anchovies and black olives. (TIP: crush the olives in your hand to help dry them out.)
- Topping 2: 10-12 slices from a chorizo ring (per pizza).
- Optional: basil leaves.
Putting it together
- Get the oven on as hot as it will go.
- Divide your dough in two and, on a floured surface, make a ball. Flatten it out with the heel of your hand or a heavily floured rolling pin until it’s a neat circle 20cm across. Flour a non-stick pizza tin (ours cost £4 each) and then press the dough out to the edges. It should end up pretty thin all over. Leave it for 10 minutes.
- Take a ladle and spread a very thin layer of passata over each base — thin enough that you can see the dough through it in places — something like four or five tablespoons’ worth. Add salt, pepper and dried basil to taste. Leave for another 1o minutes.
- Sprinkle cheese all over, just enough to cover.
- Add other toppings in a way which pleases your eye. (But not basil leaves just yet!)
- Once the oven is at maximum temperature, put both pizzas in. Our oven cooks them in bang on 11 minutes. In case your oven is better, set a timer for 9-10 and keep an eye on them.
- When they’re done (crust beginning to blacken, cheese melted and darkening), take them out.
- Add more black pepper and fresh basil leaves, if you’re using them.
Tweaks and customisation
- Other toppings that work well are pepper and sweetcorn (further cost-cutting: frozen work well); and small beef meatballs with cayenne and black pepper.
- If you find the pizza too crisp this way and like it ‘bendier’, turn the oven down to c.200 degrees C and cook for a few minutes longer.
- If you really want to use mozzarella balls, try slicing them and leaving them to drain on a cloth for a while before adding them.
Beer? Oh, yeah, this is a beer blog, isn’t it? Alright then: we find that pizza goes particularly well with Saison Dupont but, actually, pizza works with pretty much any beer you fancy.