Pizza. Is there anything it can’t do?
The scene of this revelation took place cramped up on a sofa, amidst friends and beer. Alongside making finger shadows of the velociraptors from jurassic park on the projector-lit wall as pre-theatre entertainment (complete with theme tune) was the prospect of Home. Made. Pizza. Bowls of toppings, sauce and cheese littered the worksurface: floured hands and happy faces.
It was the best night I’d had in a while and the best pizza I’d had in my life.
The snack of late-nights, date-nights and the morning after breakfast of champions. Go-to snack of ninja turtles, Kevin Mccallister and pre-Richard Gere Julia Roberts will always be there for you. Restaurants are slowly coming around to the idea of pizza for us vegans (omg #soblesseed) but nothing beats the fun and the taste of a homemade slice. And no-one’s gonna judge when you inevitably go back for seconds…and thirds…
So I wanna share a recipe. Pizza, like all the good things in life, is simple. The trick is to get the dough right, then the sauce. Then you can do whatever you want and it’s still gonna taste delicious and magical. This recipe makes 2 x 14 inch pizzas and yes, you’ll probably eat both, but you can freeze the dough if you must.
The dough is paramount. Without a good base, you mayaswell just smear some tomatoes and cheese over a piece of cardboard and slice up a piece of misery.
The best dough has real texture, a depth without a heaviness, it’s crisp, chewy and is more than just a vehicle for your toppings. You could go wholewheat with this shit but you don’t want to; it’s fucking pizza, live a little.
– 400 gr flour (all purpose or bread)
– 250 mls room temperature water (too hot and you’ll kill the yeast, too cold, and it ain’t doing nothing)/
– 1/2 tspn of instant dry yeast (half packet usually)
– 7gr salt, pref. sea.
– 1 tspn sugar (this is for the yeast again)
– 1.5 tspon olive oil (for flavour and texture)
1. Pour the yeast into the room temp. water and let them get to know each other for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, mix salt and the sugar into your flour.
3. Slowly pour your yeast water into the flour and mix until incorporated.
4. Add oil and knead gently for about 4 to 5 minutes (kneading excites the gluten in the flour: you don’t want a heavy and doughy base so no need to go all Sharon Stone in Total Recall on it. Take your anger outside of the kitchen. Perhaps try a quiet walk in the park.)
5. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces, a scale is best here if you don’t trust your eye. Each piece should way about 160 grams.
HERE, choose your own adventure .At this point you can go right ahead after 15 minutes proving time and start rolling out and assembling your pizza… or… you could wait. Refrigerating the dough in an oiled freezer bag or clinfilmed tin at this stage for up to 3 days intensifies and develops the flavour a TON. If you want to freeze your dough because you’re a masochist/forward-thinking person do so at this point. Dough can be frozen for up to a month.
So, while waiting – either 15 minutes, or if you chose the latter option, allowing your dough to come back to room temperature – preheat your oven all the way to 11. Blisteringly hot. Hotter than the sun hot. Pizza, sags and whines in the low temp oven. And you don’t want a whiny soggy pizza. That ain’t no good to no-one.
Roll out and stretch your dough on a pre floured surface. You can be pretty tough, but try not to use a rolling pin. Knead, flatten turn, find your own way to roll it into a some kind of a circle shape. Place on a floured pizza stone/baking tray and add sauce, toppings, cheese – you know the drill – and bake for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the pizza and heat of your oven…until crispy and melty and delicious.
You now have a pizza from literal pennies worth of ingredients. You’ve already done better than most people, so go grab another beer, and eat it all to yourself, you deserve it.
NOTES ON TOPPINGS AND SAUCE
Homemade sauce is the best and it means you can enjoy feeling smug that little bit more but if you want pizza NOW you can just spread over a jarred tomato ragu.
For an easy sauce recipe that will do your pizzas plus more:
Mince 1 garlic clove, add to 1 med-large diced white onion sweating in a tblspoon of olive oil on a medium heat. Add a finely finely finely diced carrot, salt, pepper and a tiny bit of sugar. Cook down and add 1 400gr tin of good tomatoes. Taste, season, and let it cook on low for up to an hour.
On cheese: Violife cheese for pizza is great for this but hard to find. Otherwise violife mozarella is a good shout and I’ve heard good things about the meltability of sainsbury’s cheddar cheese.
Muhsrooms, olives, sweetcorn, diced red pepper, vegan sausage, chilli…I’ve also been known to slice up an avocado just before serving.Bar throwing the entire contents of your cupboard onto the pizza, it’s gonna be hard to go wrong so go as fancy, or as simple as you like.