Because this ……
For my birthday last week I received this pizza oven from uncle brother (my brother, Kid’s uncle). Hence the inevitable pizza post. It’s been on the cards for a bit. Today is a balmy, rainy Brisbane pre-summer sort of oppression, the doors and windows are open, the fans are on cyclone and it’s still hot.
(Oh it’s not hot, it’s just humid.
Shut up. It is hot.)
Anyways, we are inside with time to cook.
Basic Pizza Dough
As a cheffy I’ve spent time in a couple of different pizza restaurants with wood fired ovens. We make the dough everyday, sometimes twice a day. I’m used to making a lot at once. Like 20kg of flour at a time. I’ve done some sums and reduced it to this.
This will make 3 thin based 30cm pizzas.
400gm plain flour – 00 is better if it’s available but not essential.
300ml warm water – think of ‘warming a babies bottle’ warm.
1 x 7gm satchet dried yeast
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Combine everything bar the flour and stir well. Allow to sit for about 10 mins or until it goes fluffy. If it doesn’t go fluffy, turn back and start again. This means your yeast isn’t ‘activating’. Sift the flour into a bowl, add the yeast mixture and stir together.
Use a mix master if you have one or use your hand as a paddle to combine the ingredients. When it’s a sticky mess turn it out onto a clean bench top and knead until it forms a dough.
Keep kneading until the outside becomes smooth.
This now needs to rest (prove) for about half an hour.
15min Pizza Sauce
4-5 really ripe cooking tomatoes – chopped
5 cloves garlic – more or less – crushed
Fresh basil – about 10 leaves – sliced
Sweat the garlic in a little oil for 2-3 mins. Add the tomatoes and S&P and turn the heat up. Stir occasionally to stop it burning. After about 10 mins add the basil and blend.
Or in my case, smoosh with a fork and push through a sieve (I left my blender at work).
When the dough has doubled in size you can now ‘knock it back’. Knead it again until the air has gone out of it. Cut it into 3 pieces – I know the pretty picture says 2 pieces, I know better now.
Now roll each of these pieces into balls with the palm of your hands.
Now let them rest (prove) again, as in the first instance. I made 2, the first one a little thick, and had dough left for a small lunch pizza.
Next time I’ll just make 3.
Less is more here. A thin smear of sauce, a fine scattering of cheese, fresh basil, 1 or 2 toppings and a little cheese again. Too much topping turns a good pizza into something less. A thin crispy, chewy base is nice to eat and won’t fill you up.
The things you buy in boxes with dots and snazzy jingles are great at midnight after too much good cheer but they’re not a good way to feed your family satisfying, nutritious food.
Those toppings are made in a factory, not in a kitchen.
Did someone say ‘stuffed’ crust?
We cooked ours in the nifty new pizza oven and they worked a treat (anyone need a pizza oven promo out there?) which was a nice surprise. Otherwise pre-heat your oven nice and high, like 260*c.Use a lightly greased baking tray and cook on the bottom shelf until the bottom has some colour and the cheese gets a little golden.
What Kid Did
What didn’t kid do? If you want to get kids involved just make pizza. Kid made the dough, kneaded the dough and rolled the dough. She picked the basil, stirred the sauce and arranged the toppings gently on the pizzas. Kid washed the lettuce and put together a simple garden salad. You can’t have pizza without salad, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before.
Kid also took out the rubbish and helped choose/sample the toppings.
We had a really good time today.
In the car after school I asked Kid what sort of things we should be thinking about to make a good pizza. She responded with ‘the crust has to be just right’ ‘we need to have toppings that will cook in time with dough’ ‘good cheese’ ‘olives’.
I think we covered those bases – no pun intended.