Our childrens allegiance to pizza runs deep.
My children think they’re getting a midweek ‘treat’ if I pick up a box of Margherita on our way back home from school.
It’s a bigger cheat for me than it is for them.
It’s the quickest take-away for days when I really just didn’t have the time to make them a ‘proper’ lunch after school and they really think I am the best mom ever.
Whether it’s store-bought (who makes the best take-away pizza?) or home-made, there aren’t many people who dont love pizza, but there are many people who are afraid to attempt making it.
I mean, you could get away with the topping by using store-bought Pasta sauce slapped on to the base. But how exactly do you make the base?
Here are some tips:
- Use your hands. Get in there as opposed to using a stand-mixer. Its easier to control the liquid ensuring you aren’t left with a sticky dough.
- Find a warm spot for the dough to rise, and if you don’t, simply put the oven on until its really warm. Switch it off. Leave the door open and place the bowl on a support in front of the oven to rise. If you’re cooking, leave the bowl right next to the plate that’s on. The heat will transfer and assist in the dough rising.
- Don’t be afraid of yeast. There aren’t any special ways to treat it. Add it into your flour and add the wet ingredients into it.
- The ultimate test is how many holey air bubbles you see when you look at the top of your dough. This means it will be super soft and spongy when baked.
- Unlike scone dough, its important to work the yeast into the mixture so get in there massaging your dough until its soft.
Ingredients for the base:
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of milk
- A finger width slice of butter (from the 500g block)
- 3.5 cups of flour
- 1 packet of dry yeast granules
- 3 tbl sugar
- 1 tsp salt
In a small saucepan, add the water, milk and butter. Heat just enough to melt the butter and until the liquid warms up.
Add the dry ingredients together.
Gently pour in the warm liquid. Do not use all of the liquid, just enough for the dough to come together. It should not be sticky, but rather soft to the touch when poked.
Place into a large dish.
Allow to rise somewhere warm for 1 and a half hours. Punch it down and roll out to the desired thickness. Conservatively, I roll to 2cm but we prefer a thicker, puffier base and not flat or crispy.
At this stage, you ay shape them or use the entire dough to make 2 30cm bases.
If you are not using store-bought sauce (and there are no rules that everyting has to be homemade), here is a quick (basic) sauce topping recipe:
Ingredients for the homemade Pizza Sauce:
- 2 tbl olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely cubed
- 1 tbl ground garlic
- Half a tsp black pepper
- Half a tsp salt
- 1 tsp oregano
- 3 to 4 grated tomato
- 1 small tin tomato paste or a tsp squeezed paste
- Half a tsp of sugar
- A squirt of tomato sauce
Cook the onion until translucent (do not brown) in olive oil.
Add the spices and herbs and mix well.
Finally add all the tomato, including the paste and sauce.
Allow to cool.
- Smear the sauce onto the unbaked base.
- Bake at 180 degrees until the base is golden and the dough is puffy.
At this stage the base is ready to be frozen. Many people prefer adding all of the ingredients, including cheese and herbs, which is great for convenience lunches.
Vegetarian Pizza – I don’t overthink this – I smear ingredients directly on top of the base. Here are my options:
- A bit of ground green chili
- Mix of Mozarella and Gouda Cheese
- Chopped red, green and yellow pepper
- Grind of fresh black pepper
- Dried oregano
- Slice baby mushrooms
- Sliced olives
- Sliced Rosa tomato
Finish with a sprinkle of salt and bake until the cheese melts and the vegetables begin to blister.
I use just a handful of Queen Prawns for this, approximately 250g should suffice.
Marinate (even 10 minutes is sufficient) in:
- 2 tbl lemon juice
- 1 tsp ground garlic
- 1 tsp chili powder
- Half a tsp salt
- 1 tbl peri-peri oil
- Half a tsp black pepper
- Half a tsp lemon pepper
- Quarter tsp ground green chili
Cook in 2 tbl butter on low. Do not allow the prawns to blacken, or let the oil get dark. immediately top your pizza (that already has Mozarella sliced over) with the prawns, but reserve the remainder of the liquid.
When the pizza is done, remove from the oven. Drizzle the remainder of the sauce from the pan over, making sure to scrape any additional seasoning that might be caught at the bottom of the pan.
Drizzle over a green chutney and top with lemon wedges and a grind of black pepper, salt and olive oil.