We had decided on homemade pizzas prior to the boyfriend heading on the weekly journey to the supermarket. Not homemade to the point of making our own bases, oh no. So pre-made bases were bought.
I was required to take a rather useful afternoon nap (am old, had been out night before, etc and so on) and upon waking and viewing said pre-made pizza bases decided that I just could not, in all good conscience, eat something that resembled a mousepad. So make our own bases we did, in between sorting the baby’s bedtime and the dog’s incessant requests for food.
Bit of research online, obviously, and the usual cobbling together of recipes across allrecipes,com, Jamie Oliver, taste.com.au and so on. The below was achieved. It was a good result, all told.
To make enough dough for 4 bases (we froze the dough for two, used two) you must gather:-
500g flour – now ALL the recipes say you must use strong white bread flour, or 00 flour, or whatever. I hadn’t any of that – in fact the boyfriend had to go on a mercy dash to collect more flour (and mozzarella) after my earlier efforts at cooking an Ottolenghi muffin recipe, to be blogged, which called for an insane amount of flour. So, plain bog standard flour was used. Seemed FINE.
1 sachet 7g dry yeast
325ml warm water
Good teaspoon of sea salt. Maldon, obv.
If you fancy, about a dessertspoon of caster sugar, too.
Pre-heat your oven to about 30C (yes, THIRTY) if it’s not that warm inside your house.
First thing you do is pour the yeast (and sugar, if using) into the warm water, stir it through and let it sit for a couple of minutes.
Tip your flour into a nice mountain on a work surface, one you’ve preferably cleaned a bit beforehand. I had to clear mine of old potatoes, leftover rum and a bottle of disinfectant.
Make a well in the middle, add the salt. So far so tidy.
It’s at this point you’ll work out whether you made a deep enough well, as you now have to pour the yeasty water into the well and start the whole mixing thing. Basically, just use a fork to bring the flour into the wet bit, round and round.
It’ll eventually resemble something like the above. At this point your fork, ever ambitious, sadly becomes redundant and you must dive in, fingers first.
Just put some flour on your hands and move it about, pushing back and forth, till it becomes all one mass.
Everyone has their own kneading technique. I don’t know how to describe mine, other than ‘turn, push, pull, turn, push, pull’. You’re essentially giving the dough a hard time, trying to sort some good behaviour from the gluten and get some spring.
You’ve about ten minutes of kneading ahead of you, so think of something good to mull over. I went for ‘Contemplation of My Fat Gut Which Magically Won’t Go Away’. Useful when making something to consume that consists mostly of carbs (base) and fatty goods (topping).
At five minutes in should get getting smoothish and slightly springy. You’ll be tempted to stop – it smells yeasty and looks ok.
People get all evangelical about yeasty baked goods. I love a good bread, but there is work involved. Pizza bases are kind of where you can get your Level 1 Yeast Management badge. Go for it.
Ten minutes in it should be nice, smooth, quite springy and happy to sit in a ball shape.
Into a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean tea towel (or, as in my case, a mostly clean kind of probably not that clean at all tea towel) and into the oven or a warm place to prove for 30 mins.
Between dog, NewHuman and Fat Gut I’ve very little lap left. It’s a trial.
Right, after 30 mins you’ll note your dough has exploded, much like my gut, and springs back to the touch.
It’s quite fun to dig your finger into the thing. Poor dough.
Turn it out and cut into four equal pieces. Freeze the bits you’re not going to use immediately.
Stick the oven on to preheat at 250C and chuck in some biscuit trays.
Roll out your bit of dough as thin as you like. Actually, pretty much as thin as you’re comfortable going will be optimal – thinner is better here. STORY OF MY LIFE.
Place onto a piece of foil.
Layer on your toppings. Boyfriend made a base sauce of passata, garlic, pepper and bit of sugar, simmered in a pan till reduced and flavourful. I went for that with mozzarella, speck, capers and basil. Capers mean I’m sophisticated.
Pop the whole thing, on the foil, into the oven onto the hot hot hot oven tray you’ve had in there. 10-12 mins at most.
Eat. Is good.