On Friday nights we gather with good friends to become our own Pizzeria. Sometimes there’s only a few keen partakers, sometimes we feed up to 25 people who know we keep an open house from after school onwards. Everyone offers a contribution and it brings an end to a busy school week. I try to make the dough in the morning if I get a chance and the sauce the day before. It is easy, peasy, lemon squeezy and it takes approximately 4 minutes to get enough dough ready for up to 8 people. It’s one heck of a lot cheaper than taking 8 people out to dinner, that’s for certain and the kids are encouraged to make their own shapes and experiment with different toppings. Sometimes we run to dessert, maybe an apple & strawberry crumble, or sometimes some locally made ice-cream, or we toast marshmallows on an open fire. But we all look forward to catching up and taking time to talk, sit, roll dough, and savour the warm delicious smell of pizzas cooking. Please give this recipe a try. It never fails and because you make it, you are in control of what goes in and on. If you live close to me I will willingly give you a demo, if not please let me know how it went.
First make a delicious and easy tomato sauce.
You can make it in two ways. Take some raw tomatoes (not the best in town) and either fry gently in olive oil with some roughly chopped onions and garlic until they are mushy, then blend or roast slowly with rosemary sprigs, garlic cloves, onion in a medium oven with olive oil, sea salt, and a sprinkle of black pepper-corns until tomatoes are slightly blackened around the edges. Cool and blend. Taste for seasoning and set aside. I blend it in a jug and leave it in the fridge until needed. Naturally you can also freeze it when you have a glut of tomatoes. Now for the dough….
Pizza Dough in a completely wholemeal way!
(for up to 4 people who really like pizzas and who doesn’t?)
500 grams or half a bag of wholemeal Farina Flour (I buy this from the Italy deli on Piet Heinstraat in The Hague)
half a cup of fine semolina
3 teaspoons of normal ground sea-salt
3 tablespoons of a mild olive oil
2 sachets or 14 gram of dried yeast – my favourite is Hovis yeast
approx 400 mls of hand hot water
That’s all you need. Mix all the dry ingredients. Add in the olive oil. Mix in most of the warm water to make a dough. Add a little more water if you need it or flour if the mixture is too wet. Bring it together with your hands. Knead for a few minutes and then set it aside to prove. Cover and leave in a warm place for a few hours. The dough should have risen unless your forgot the yeast so punch it down when it has doubled in size and knead some more. It’s very relaxing, pushing and pulling on bread dough and an excellent stress buster. I divide into small balls ready to roll out and then cover until we are ready to roll!
NB: I make two batches for up to 8 people and in the highly unlikely event of left-overs you can pop it into a container in the fridge overnight and make a flat bread in the morning to have with boiled eggs.
Preheat the oven to 230 degrees. The hotter the better for pizza. We have a big SMEG oven which takes yonks to heat up but is fiercely hot when it does, perfect for pizzas but not delicate little friands.
Very, very lightly flour your rolling surface and roll out one of the dough balls. Feel free to do a little more kneading before rolling for good measure. Oil your pizza tray – we like the round ones with holes and let your imagination run riot. Our best joint effort (Dad and kids) was a pirate galleon, but we have made pizza daleks, stars, calzone with egg, diamonds, squares and even the odd round one.It’s much easier if you put your shape onto the tray and stretch it out with your finger tips so you get a really thin, crunchy crust.
Toppings. Please use good quality toppings but be sparing with your cheese and add fresh herbs after the pizza is cooked.Your home made tomato sauce with add loads of good flavour especially if you blend it with raw onions, basil, and thyme.
Now add on your favourite toppings such as chargrilled aubergine, mushrooms, the fumagalii range of organic salami, parma ham, oregano, thyme, goats cheese, manchego, young pecerino, taleggio, mozzerella, salmon, garlic, feta etc. Sometimes we dollop a wee bit of olive oil and sea salt on top. Often after cooking, we pile on fresh tomatoes, rocket leaves, oil and a spray of balsamic vinegar. If we are feeling rather decadent we grate some fresh autumn truffle on the cooked pizza (get them from Natashcha at the market for around 3-4 euros if you are in The Hague!)
Bake for around 12 minutes in your very hot oven, making sure adults are around to remove the piping hot pizza with thick oven gloves. Please do remember to put the timer on as they are easy to burn!
We serve with a simple salad and insist that our kids have green with their pizzas. Our rule no green, no pizza! Everyone loves a good bit of carbohydrate, the trouble is we eat a few too many of them so the idea is to balance them with fresh salads and veggies. Simple but sometimes not easy.
Above, studious pizza makers at work!
If you have leftover uncooked dough place in fridge overnight. Roll out flat in the morning and top with black onion seeds, a smear of left over tomato sauce, or sliced tomatoes (with seeds removed) crumbled feta and pin-nuts. Place in a hot oven – 215 for 15 minutes. or until golden brown and it sounds hollow if you knock it with your fingers. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with a few flakes of salt. Disappears fast in our house! Enjoy! Next blog I will be looking at home-baking for lunch boxes, apples recipes (we had a huge crop in our small urban garden this year) and suggesting tips for great lunchbox containers!