In our house we really like pizza, especially when the parents aren’t about and the cottage turns into the Sunday lunch stop for the Sister, Little Sister and Small Brother. It’s easy to make the dough and sauce ahead of time, leaving the final assembly for when everybody turns up. That way they also get to choose their own toppings, which keeps everybody happy. This is how it works:
- land ingredients into bread machine for cheat’s way of making dough.
- get phone call from still sleepy Little Sister and give her a list of toppings to pick up on the way over.
- listen to diatribe about how she has to go to camogie training at 10am on a Sunday morning.
- tell her to pass the list on to the the Small Brother.
- chop onion and garlic for tomato sauce. while crying over chopped onion – they’re really strong at this time of the year – get the first of a series of phone calls from the Mother who has now been handed the shopping list and is trying to translate the Little Sister’s writing.
- juggle tomato sauce-making with phone calls from the supermarket.
- leave tomato sauce to simmer, knocked back dough to sit in the fridge and go off gardening with Little Missy.
- famished family arrive, having remembered the shopping but forgotten to have breakfast in the process.
- tide the noisiest family members over with Chocolate Chip Banana Cake and tea while I roll and stretch dough, the Little Sister spreads tomato sauce and scatters toppings, the Husband drags the table into the centre of the room and LM runs in great excitement under everyone’s feet.
- into the oven, prep salads and, ten minutes later, we’re sitting at the table, three large pizzas cut into hot, oozing slices for everyone to grab at.
- peace and quiet…Our favourite toppings?
– plain Margarita (tomato sauce, mozzarella), taken hot from the oven and quickly landed with Parma ham and rocket so they just wilt slightly in the heat.
– black pudding, crème fraiche and pinenuts on top of tomato sauce.
– caramelised onions, preserved artichokes and lots of cheddar cheese.
– anything with lots of meat, says the Little Brother.
– chilli oil with everything, say the rest of us.
– no sweet pizzas. We’ve tried banana, crème fraiche and chocolate chip and it was ok but it’s not an experiment that I’d really want to repeat.And you? Any must-make toppings for your own pizza lunch/dinner?
I make this the lazy way, using the dough setting on my bread machine, but it can easily be made by hand as below. If you’re organised enough, the flavour is definitely improved by making it the night before and leaving it, covered, in the fridge. I like to use a mixture of strong and rye flours but you can, of course, use just strong flour. In my house, this makes three swiss roll tin-sized pizzas which, with salads, overfeeds 5½ people very easily.
Water – 325mls
Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
Strong plain flour – 450g
Rye flour – 50g
Brown sugar – 2 teaspoons
Salt – ½ teaspoon
Dried yeast – 1 sachet or 1½ teaspoons
Bread machine method: place the ingredients in your machine in the order specified – for me, it’s liquids first, then dry ingredients, as above – choose the dough setting and let it work away.
Hand method: for this, your water will need to be at room temperature. Put the flours into a large bowl, add the brown sugar, salt and yeast and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre of the flour, pour in the warm water and olive oil, then mix well together. Allow dough to sit for five minutes, then turn out onto floured worktop and knead until smooth and springy. Place back into the cleaned bowl, rub with a little olive oil and allow to stand in a warm place for about an hour until doubled in size.
Either method: turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knock back, or gently knead, to push the air out. Store in an oiled bowl, wrapped in clingfilm, in the fridge until needed.
I always use this Simple Tomato Sauce, making a double mixture so that I have enough for tomorrow’s pasta or to freeze for the next batch of pizzas. The polenta is used under the pizza to make sure it doesn’t stick to the tin.
Simple tomato sauce – 1 quantity
Mozzarella balls – 3, chopped
Whatever toppings you like
Polenta, cornmeal or coarse semolina
Preheat the oven to 220ºC.
Sprinkle your baking tins with polenta, cornmeal or coarse semolina.
Cut the dough into three – for large rectangular pizzas – or four, for smaller round pizzas. Roll and stretch the dough until it fits your tin or pizza stone. I find it easiest to roll a piece of dough, let it sit for a few minutes, then finish rolling and stretching it out.
Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the base, sprinkle the mozzarella on top and add toppings as desired. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and cook in the hot oven until golden and bubbling.
Serves 6, easily!