I was absent-mindedly turning the pages of a food magazine last week, when I had the sudden urge to create homemade pizza from scratch. I’ve made pizza in the past, vegan pizza to be more precise. As lovely as it was, it was missing something. And that something was cheese, glorious cheese.
I love cheese of every variety. Cheddar, mozzarella, goats, smoked, blue, with cranberries and blueberries, with cinnamon or chilli, stuffed into baby peppers. You name it, I love it. And what better way to celebrate cheese than by slathering it on a homemade pizza crust with homemade tomato sauce. Yum.
It’s also perfect for spending time with loved ones. Everyone can get involved with the pizza making activities. Whether they help to knead the dough, make the sauce, chop ingredients, grate cheese – there’s something for everyone!
Ben and I really enjoyed it. He worked with the dough, kneading quite a bit, which worked in my favour, as I got away lightly (I just chucked the ingredients into a large purple bowl). I made the sauce, which is easy peasy. Together, we chopped the ingredients, and everyone rolled their own pizzas (for a personal, unique touch). The pizza bases were then slathered in pizza sauce, covered in cheeses and toppings and served with garlic bread.
Certainly a night to be repeated!
For the pizza dough (Makes 4 pizzas):
450g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp sugar
14g dried fast-action yeast
3 tsp salt
1 ½ tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
300 ml tepid water
For the pizza sauce (Makes enough for 4 pizzas):
olive oil, for frying
1 onion, finely chopped
2 crushed garlic cloves
shake of chilli
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
pinch of sugar
splash of white wine vinegar
For the pizza dough:
- Place the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl, making a well in the centre. Add the olive oil and tepid water. Mix the ingredients together to form a rough dough, proceeding to tip onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 10-15 minutes, adding a little flour if necessary. When the dough is smooth and elastic, shape into a ball and place into a large, oiled bowl. Cover with a clean tea-towel.
- Leave the dough to rise in a warm place for 50-60 minutes, or until the ball has doubled in size. Proceed to knock it back (dust your hands with flour, give the dough a quick punch and quickly knead it for around a minute). Divide the dough into quarters, and roll each quarter into a bowl. Put the four balls on a lightly floured work surface and cover each one with a piece of foil, leaving to rest for 15-20 minutes.
- When the dough balls are soft to the touch but are not too springy, they are ready to go. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each ball into a thin pizza base, ensuring that the surface stays floury, or the dough will begin to stick. Place each pizza base on a lightly floured baking sheet before spreading with pizza sauce (recipe below) and slather generously with a variety of cheese and toppings.
- Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Cook the pizzas for 15-20 minutes or until crispy.
For the pizza sauce:
- Heat a glug of olive oil in a pan and gently sauté the chopped onion for approximately 5 minutes, or until fragrant and golden.
- Add the crushed garlic cloves and a shake of chilli, cooking for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, a pinch of sugar, a splash of white wine vinegar and seasoning.
- Bring to a boil and leave to simmer gently for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Taste, adjust the seasoning and blend until smooth.