Pizza has to be my favourite fast food. When it’s done well! There is nothing worse than a big, greasy, doughy pizza that so many fast food places try to pass off here. For me, it has to be a thin, crispy base, topped with a tasty tomato sauce and ingredients that are actually identifiable. On holidays a few years ago we discovered a gorgeous pizza stand that sold huge slices for about €2.50. Himself was addicted! I have being trying to recreate that taste at home since and while it’s not quite the same, this recipe gives it a good run for it’s money. Give it a try – you’ll never want greasy pizza again.
It’s nice to make at the weekends when you have time to let the dough rise. Both the dough and the sauce can be frozen so any leftovers can be safely stashed away for when you don’t have quite as much time to make it. Once assembled, the pizza cooks in about 10 mins. I have struggled with making decent pizza dough in the past – I have a slight fear of working with yeast. I found it hard to get a good recipe that produced the required thin but light dough. The one below works for me. You can knead the dough in a stand mixer if you have one, it takes about 15 mins to get the dough as elastic as you want. I have kneaded by hand and with a hand mixer, that didn’t work for me! I got very bored kneading by hand (again with the laziness!) and the hand mixer was frankly rubbish. It was a great excuse to invest in a stand mixer.
The pizza dough recipe is taken from Niamh Shields book Comfort & Spice. Niamh has a fab food and travel blog – eatlikeagirl.com – well worth checking out. (She also has a cookbook in the works dedicated to bacon recipes. A whole book on bacon recipes!! Needless to say, I’ve already pre ordered mine.) In the book, it says that the recipe below makes 8 x 25cm/10inch bases. I honestly struggled to get 6 out if it and now I just divide the dough into 4 and roll and stretch it as best I can to make a base of approx 12inches. Maybe when I get a bit better at it I’ll get more out of it.
I cook my pizza on a pizza stone. It gets the base really crisp and evenly cooked. If you don’t have one a heavy based baking sheet will work.
You can really top these pizzas with anything you like. The sauce below is quite tasty and this made enough to cover three pizzas with leftovers for freezing. If you are lucky enough to have good tomatoes you could make a sauce by roasting them in the oven and blitzing with the other ingredients then. The pizza pictured above has mozzarella, smoked prosciutto and basil. I add the prosciutto about half way through cooking so that it doesn’t burn and add basil after cooking. I think the flavour of the basil is stronger this way.
Makes approx 4 x 12inch pizzas
- 5g dried yeast or 10g fresh yeast
- 300ml warm water – not too hot or it will kill the yeast. You want to be able to keep your hand in it comfortably.
- 25ml extra virgin olive oil, plus more to oil
- 10g salt
- 550g strong white flour, plus more to dust
- Put the yeast into the warm water and stir thoroughly. If using fresh yeast continue on straight away. If using dried yeast allow it to start frothing before moving on.
- Add the oil to the water and yeast and immediately add this to the flour and salt, mixing well as you do.
- Knead the dough either by hand or with a mixer until you see that it has become stretchy and has a sheen.
- Lightly oil a high bowl, put the dough in and cover with clingfilm.
- Leave it in a warm place until it has doubled in size. It will take an hour, possibly more.
- Knock back by punching the air out of the dough (enjoy!) and leave it to rise again for about 10 mins.
- Don’t start shaping your dough until you are ready to put the pizza in the oven. Divide your dough into equal pieces. Work with one piece and cover the others with lightly oiled clingfilm to stop them from drying out.
- I start by rolling the dough with a rolling pin but finish by shaping it by hand until I get to the size I need. You want the dough to be about 5mm thick.
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- pinch brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
- Salt & pepper
- pinch of dried oregano
- Lightly fry the garlic cloves in the olive oil. Keep the temperature medium because the garlic can easily burn.
- Add the tomato puree and cook for a few mins.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, sugar, and chilli flakes if you are using them.
- Simmer for about 10-12 mins and taste and season with salt, pepper and oregano as needed.
- I like to use a hand blender to make the sauce as smooth as possible.
- Allow to cool before using.
- When you are ready to make the pizza, preheat your oven to the highest setting. Pizza needs high heat to cook quickly. Put your pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven while it heating so that it is piping hot before you put the dough on. Be very careful, the stone in particular is roasting at this stage.
- Lightly dust flour or semolina on the stone or sheet to stop the dough from sticking.
- Put the dough onto the stone before you add the sauce and toppings. You will be sorry if you try to transfer a fully assembled pizza!
- Lightly spread a few spoonfuls of your tomato sauce on the base, but make sure to leave about an inch from the edge free.
- Cover with the toppings of your choice and cook for about 10/12 mins, until the middle of the pizza is cooked through.
Enjoy experimenting with flavours. I am looking forward to trying the potato topping in Niamh’s book next time. I know, it sound weird but she and Nadia G from Bitchin’ Kitchen have sold it to me!