Thin Crust Pizza
Had a productive bank holiday – got a lovely tray and new bike at a car boot sale. The weather left a little to be desired, leaving some dull light for photos, so we had another DIY spree (spice rack was the last one…) and made a lightbox. See results above – I’m so pleased!
Until six months ago I’d never cooked a pizza from scratch, but since I first tried to make my own I haven’t looked back. This recipe makes enough for 6 individual-sized pizzas (I cut the dough into threes and freeze two batches) or 4 big sharers. These pizzas are great for a dinner with friends if the dough and toppings are ready to be assembled as each person likes.
It’s really straight forward to make this dough, which is happy to be frozen after the first rising stage, and the pizza itself doesn’t take much more time than throwing a frozen pizza into the oven. Honest. I sometimes make this dough before work and leave it rise in the cool, slowly. Today I whacked it together and hot-housed it in the oven by turning the oven on to its hottest setting, turning it off right away and then leaving it to rise in the residual heat.
For a white dough pizza (wholemeal coming up in another post) I like it thin and crisp.
Makes 4-6 pizza bases
- 500 g strong white flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsps sugar
- 1 sachet (7g) yeast
- 2 tbspn oil (I try and use oil reserved from sun-dried tomatoes or similar)
- 300 ml lukewarm water (not too hot or the yeast will not perform – trust me here!)
Mix the sugar, yeast, oil and water together in a jug and leave for 5 minutes to bubble up. Weigh out the salt and flour. If using a mixer (I know I am so very lucky to have one!) then you bung it all in together at once and leave it to do its thing for about 8 minutes. If going by hand (and I have done this as well) you plonk the flour and salt onto the surface, make a well and then add the watery mixture. Incorporate by bringing the flour into the well of water, gradually. In theory this sounds easy. In reality, it starts OK and then gets ahead of itself and there is generally a rabid scramble to stop yeast and sugary water running down the surfaces and onto your feet. Just go fast and think about the mess later. After this it’s just a case of really pounding, kneading and showing the dough who’s boss. After ten minutes and much huffing and puffing you begin to get there. Feeling it change under your hands is really quite special.
Whether you mix by hand or by machine it goes through three stages:
- The shaggy, messy stage where you think it will never become dough.
- The pastry-ish stage where you think it might be ready already…
- The glossy, smooth, springy stage where the dough comes to life – you have reached your destination.
After this stage, slosh a bit of oil in with the dough and turn it around to get it nicely covered. Cover with a damp cloth and leave until it has doubled in size. Either in the cold (a long time), a warm room (an hour or two), or hot-housed in the oven (half an hour).
Once doubled, cut the dough into whatever size you want. I usually go for something the size of a satsuma. I copiously cover a counter in semolina (which gives the bobbly texture you can see in the photo) and roll out to about half a cm thick. Cover with a plastic bag for about quarter of an hour to ‘prove’. This term, I believe, comes from ‘proving’ the yeast is still working as it puffs up the last time before baking.
Slather on your tomato sauce (I just cook down a can of tomatoes with loads of herbs and garlic and freeze some extra to go along with the frozen pizza dough), then place your toppings. Try not to go wild with them as the more you put on the soggier the base will get. Cook on the hottest heat you can muster. The above was about 20 minutes which is just before it starts to burn!
In future, for a healthier pizza, I might omit the mozarella (shock horror!) in place of a bigger pile of rocket.
p.s. I have been listening to ‘Rocket Man’ as I’ve been writing this post – have only just realised the unconscious connection!