Tomorrow it's Holiday Eve! Like the night before Xmas; only with more frantic packing, list checking, and car sweet stockpiling. Car sweets are damn important.
So today's been busy and I wanted something for dinner that was quick, easy, and that I could just slam into the oven at the end of the day. I chose to make proper pizzas from proper Italian dough.
Clearly this wouldn't spring to mind for everyone thinking 'Quick, Easy Dinner', but pizza dough is brilliant because you spend a minimum amount of time preparing it and then leave it for pretty much the whole afternoon.
Then there's the toppings, on in 3 minutes flat. And the cooking? 15-20 minutes in a hot oven.
Yes yes, you could order a takeaway pizza or bung a frozen one in the oven. But this way is healthier, lighter, and, in T's humble opinion, much tastier.
Ingredients to make dough for 2 8" pizzas:
325g of '00' flour
Half a 7g sachet of yeast (3.5g)
1 tsp of salt
2 tbsps of olive oil
3 tbsps of milk
Roughly 150ml of warm water
You can either mix the dough by hand in a large bowl or in a food processor; it you want to make it easily and in less time, I recommend the food processor.
Add the flour, yeast, salt (Tip: Keep the yeast and salt separate in the bowl as the salt will damage the yeast), oil, and milk into the food processor and mix together. While it's mixing slowly add the warm water until a dough forms.
Remove the dough from the food processor, place onto a well-floured surface, and knead for around 5 minutes. The dough will start off a bit stiff but as you knead it will feel looser. After 5 minutes the dough will feel soft, smooth, and will be more elastic; if you poke the dough with your finger the indentation will spring back.
Place the dough into a large bowl and cover with a clean, damp tea towel. Leave the dough for about an hour and a half to rise; in this time it'll double in size and will feel light and soft to the touch.
Now for knocking the dough back (the fun bit). Take the dough out of the bowl and back onto a well-floured surface and then pummel it all over; it's cheap anger-management. Knead the dough again for a couple of minutes, shape into a ball, and place back into the bowl and cover with the tea-towel. This time leave the dough for another hour, and then it's ready to use.
To make 2 pizzas divide the dough into two equal pieces using a knife, then shape each piece into a small ball. To shape the dough I use a combination of rolling and stretching; firstly roll out the dough with a rolling pin into a rough circle (Please note; my pizzas are never circular, I like to call them 'artisan'). Then stretch the dough; place one hand into the centre of the dough and use your other hand to stretch out the dough from the centre outwards, all the way round. It's up to you whether you make the base deep-pan or stretch it out further to create a thin and crispy base. You can also create a crust by rolling the edge of the pizza inwards all the way round.
And there you go; pizza base ready.
Basic pizza prep involves spreading tomato passata all over the base and adding mozzarella, and basil if you'd like. After that the toppings are up to you; you can go with the traditional to the out-there. Tonight I did one base with Hungarian pepperoni and sliced red chilli, the other with prosciutto and sliced chestnut mushrooms, and finished off both with grated parmesan. Try to add a bit of texture into your toppings so that your pizzas aren't flat and dull; I scrunch up the prosciutto and for an extra crunch add fennel seeds to the pepperoni.
You can cook the pizzas a number of ways; either on a flat tray, a specialised stone, or straight onto the oven shelf. I prefer the oven shelf option as it makes the bottom of the base crispy without addition washing up, but remember to place a sheet of baking paper onto the shelf first under the pizza or it'll fall through the gaps! It's also easier to place your dough onto the baking paper/tray/stone before you add the toppings.
Then cook in a 220c/220c fan oven for 15-20 minutes, until the base and edges of the pizza are crispy and the toppings are cooked. The resulting pizza base will be light, airy, with a good crunch!