Recipe: Fresh Home-made Pizza

If you have never made pizza at home before, then you have missed out on a lot of fun. 

They are not quick to make, but they are very satisfying and very cheap. You can make them in bulk and cook  them off as you need them too, or even freeze them.

First, you need the dough.  Now you can use a bread maker for this, and should not be ashamed of doing so.  After all, how many people own one of these and never use it?  It should come with instructions and the necessary measurements of the ingredients.

The secret of good dough is to use good quality 00 grade flour.  Using anything less degrades the quality of the dough.

If you don’t own a bread maker, then let’s do this the old fashioned way.

Before you start, clear a space on a worktop, spray it with disinfectant and clean it thoroughly.  Once it dries, sprinkle a little flour lightly over it.  This will save time later.

Take one mixing bowl.  Now into it add the following, in order:

  • 200 ml of water
  • One teaspoon of salt
  • One tablespoon of sugar
  • One tablespoon of soft butter
  • 350 grams of 00 grade plain white flour

Make a small hollow in the flour pile, and add a tablespoon of yeast.  The fresher the better. Mix the ingredients, initially with a spoon, and then, once it starts to form, use your hands.  When it is pliable, form it into a ball.

Place the ball onto the work surface and knead it carefully.  This is my favourite part.  Using the palms of your hands push it down into the work top and pull it towards you. 

For more detail, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube.  Like I said, it’s a lot of fun.

Take a clean bowl and place a little olive oil in it, and brush it up the sides.  Place the dough ball in the bowl and cover with a loose, clean cloth.  Do not use cling film, it needs to breathe.  Now leave the dough in the bowl on the work top for an hour and a half.

This gives you plenty of time to clean up and get the kettle on.

While you are waiting on the dough, you can make your tomato sauce. For the sauce you will need:

  • One can of good quality chopped tomatoes
  • Tomato puree
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper

Take a blender, add the tomatoes, two tablespoons of tomato puree, two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and a good twist of salt and pepper.  Blend them together until the mixture is smooth.  Transfer to a clean jug and place in the fridge.

Now you will have far more tomato sauce they you will need for one or two pizzas.  The rest you can freeze or use as part of a pasta dish.  But that is for another day.

Once the hour and a half is up, you can check how your dough is getting on.  You may be surprised to find it has risen to more than twice its size.

Now is the time to turn your oven on full.  It will take a good ten minutes to reach optimum heat, about 230c.  You will need one baking tray, brushed with a little oil.  If you have one with holes in the bottom, even better, as these are ideal for pizza making.

So, back to the pizza dough.  You actually have enough to make two standard sized pizzas, so take a knife and carefully cut the dough into two pieces.  If you are dining alone, wrap the other half of the dough in cling film and keep it in the fridge for up to two days.  It can also be frozen, but I don’t generally recommend it.

Place the original piece of dough on the work top and kneed it a little more.  Then take a rolling pin and roll out the dough into a flat circle.  Now carefully pick it up.  Form your hands into fists, under the dough and carefully pull it out until it is thinner.  You may be surprised at how pliant it is.  Stretch it out from different angles until it is nice and thin.

If you pull a hole in it, you need to ball it up and roll it out again.  This is to be avoided if at all possible, as the holes tend to stay, no matter how you roll them out.  If all else fails, throw it away and use the other half of the dough.

Very carefully, place the dough onto the baking tray.  Add a ladle full of tomato sauce and spread it out using the bottom of the ladle.  Add a couple of handfuls of grated white cheddar cheese.

And that is your very basic pizza, ready to cook.

So what toppings would you like on it?  Well the combinations are endless.  As a rule, make sure all meat or chicken toppings are pre-cooked.

For this first attempt, let’s go for ham with mushroom and mozzarella.  Pull the ham apart roughly and place evenly over the pizza.  Slice the mushrooms and place over the pizza.  The mozzarella ball can just be ripped apart and placed over the pizza.

Place in the oven for five minutes until the dough starts to brown.  Pizzas tend to cook very quickly so keep a close eye on it.

Remove from the oven using great care and transfer from the baking tray to a chopping board.  Cut it up into eighths and serve on the chopping board.  Unless you have a particularly large pizza plate (I have broken four). And serve it up. 

One pizza is usually enough for two.  They always have a lovely aroma and look as good as they taste.  Plus, you can invent and share your own topping ideas, this is what makes pizzas such fun. For more ideas of things you can do with pizza dough check out my websiteNext time, we are doing Burgers!  See you in a few weeks

By chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here.