Full of flavour, with bubbling cheese and mesmerising aroma, pizza is so easy to make. There is nothing nicer than a freshly made pizza straight from the oven. Experiment with the toppings or go for a classic option for a perfect family meal.
Short History of Pizza
The variety of ready-made pizzas available from supermarkets and delivery services shows just how fond we all are of this simple classic dish. Contrary to popular belief, pizza might not have originated in Italy. Its predecessor, a flatbread, served with different fillings, was a popular meal in Ancient Greece. There are also stories about Roman Legionnaires that mention a recipe very similar to modern day pizza being brought back from Palestine. The popularity of pizza as we know it today grew in Italy from XVIII century.
Italian pizza has a thin and crispy base normally covered with a layer of tomato sauce. The toppings can be vegetarian or include meat. Some of the popular toppings are tomato, mozzarella, olives, pancetta, salami and basil. Italian pizza is often drizzled with infused oils like garlic or chilli.
Italian pizza does not have to be an unhealthy choice. Go for simple toppings and served it with a side of salad for a fresh and filling meal.
Another type of pizza that has gained popularity is the American Pizza. It has a thicker base and thicker crust, allowing for more filling. Sometimes the crust can be stuffed with cheese. Classic toppings can include pepperoni, chili mince, ham, pineapple, mushrooms, sweetcorn and other vegetables. The more modern options range from Mexican fajita, pulled beef, bbq pork.
I am a fan of Italian Pizza. It is simple to make and makes a great lunch or dinner that is full of delicious flavours. The children enjoy the process of adding the toppings and watching the cheese bubble in the oven. Leftover slices, not that there are any left most of the time, can always be used for breakfast or snack the following day.
I make enough dough for a few pizzas and freeze it for later.
Simple Thin Crust Pizza
Ingredients for 4 medium size pizzas:
900g strong white flour
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 small sachets dried yeast (there is normally 7g in each sachet)
600-700ml Lukewarm water
400g chopped tinned tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
Salt and Pepper
Topping of your choice, I used salami, sliced mushrooms, grated cheese
To make the base:
1. Use a large bowl, add yeast, salt and sugar to lukewarm water, stir until dissolved.
2. Slowly mix in the flour using a fork, stirring continuously until smooth
3. When the mixture gets too thick to stir with the fork, get it out of the bowl and pat it into a ball
4. Flour a clean smooth surface, place the dough on the surface and knead it by rolling backward and forward, stretching it out well.
5. Continue rolling for 5-7 minutes until the dough is soft and springy, making sure there are no lumps
6. Transfer the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 45min-1hr. The dough should grow and double in size.
7. Once the dough is ready, divide into 4 portions, roll them out into desired shapes. If you only need one pizza, freeze the other 3 portions by layering them with foil and covering with cling film.
8. Smear the tomato sauce over the base and apply the toppings.
9. Cook for 7-10 minutes until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted.
To make the sauce:
Add a splash of olive oil to a pan, sauté the garlic until it is golden, add the basil leaves, tinned tomatoes and salt and pepper. Mash the tomatoes with a folk, cook until smooth.
The only thing to keep in mind here is that the base needs to bake through. Light toppings and thin slices work best. Go for ham, salami, prosciutto, sliced olives, mushrooms, onions and sweet peppers. Jazz it up with ricotta or sliced chilies. Be brave enough to experiment until you find your favourite combination.