Pizza. One of the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind. It is everywhere. Right now I could walk in any direction for less than 5 minutes and hit at least as many eateries that would serve me a pizza.
So why it is so popular? It’s quick, it’s fresh, it’s light. Well, it is all of those things when it is done properly. I really think that fresh, handmade pizza is one of the simple pleasures that everyone should try at least once. Why? Well if my flatmate, who doesn’t even really like food, wants seconds, you know its gotta be good.
Here is a really simple recipe. Its just basil, mozzarella and some pancetta as the toppings but you can really use whatever you have lying around. As long as you cut it up small enough to be cooked in the 5 minutes it’ll be in the oven, your imagination and creativity are the only limit. Have fun 😉
For the Bread.
1kg plain flour
About 1 pint of warm water
1tbs sea salt
30g yeast (or three 7g packs of the dried yeast you can get in supermarkets)
-Clear out a large space in your kitchen because you are going to need it.
-Sprinkle a thin layer of flour over your workspace and then pour out the 1kg of flour and make a large well in the centre.
-Pour your water into the well and add your yeast, salt and sugar. Mix it well with a fork then slowly but confidently start to bring in flour from the edges.
-Continue doing this until it becomes difficult to move the fork around. Then get stuck in with some elbow grease.
-keep kneading the dough until it is really smooth and kind of elastic. There is absolutely no skill required here, just beat the hell out of it.
-Once it is a smooth and even consistency, roll it out into a sausage shape and cut it up into about 10 pieces.
-Using a bit of flour on each side of the pieces and on a rolling pin, roll out each piece as thin as you can get it.
-Stack the pizza bases on a plate with a little more flour if needed and a sheet of cling film between each one.
-These can be left in the fridge or freezer and then cracked out with a bit of tomato sauce any time you have the munchies.
For the Tomato sauce.
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tin of tomato puree
2 sticks of celery
1 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
3 basil stalks
Tsp each of dried rosemary and basil.
-If you have a food processor, get it set up. If not, get your chopping arm ready.
-Process or finely chop the carrots, onion, celery, garlic and basil stalks.
-Get a medium saucepan on a high heat and add a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
-Add all of the chopped vegetables and fry vigorously for five to ten minutes.
-Once they are browned off a good bit, add the tins of tomatoes and puree and the dried herbs.
-Bring to a steady boil for another five minutes then leave it aside and allow it to cool.
Bringing it together.
A few basil leaves
1 slice of pancetta
1/2 ball of mozzarella
-Point number 1; Preheat your oven for about 20 minutes at the highest setting possible. Ideally you would be looking for about 250 degrees but if 220 is all your oven can muster (That’s what mine says it can do but I trust it about as far as I could throw it) then that will have to do.
-While you are at it, leave the biggest baking tray you have in the oven as it heats up so its as hot as the oven when the pizza goes in.
-Lay out one of the pizza bases on a chopping board. Spread 1 tbs of the tomato sauce on the base, don’t be tempted to use more as it will make the pizza really moist. And no-one likes a moist pizza.
-Tear up the pancetta, basil leaves and your half ball of mozzarella and lay them on top of your pizza. You are now ready to rock.
-Quickly get your baking tray from the oven, sprinkle a little flour on it and place your pizza in the middle of the tray.
-Fire it back in the oven as quick as you can so as not to loose any heat.
-At 250 it should take about five minutes. At around 220 it should take 7 or so. Once the base has started to crisp at the edges and the sauce is bubbling slightly take it out.
-Slice her up, maybe grate a little parmesan over it if you are bothered? Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labors.