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Perfect homemade pizza

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at homemade pizza dough for awhile. I am not crazy about franchise store bought pizza, they just don’t make it quite how I like it. Homemade however gives you the freedom to dress it whichever way you choose. And let’s face it, homemade is always best.

Recently I received a cookbook for review titled Farm-Fresh Recipes by Heather Cameron. As part of my review, I decided I would first try out three recipes. While flipping through the pages I noticed a recipe for pizza dough and another for pizza sauce, a little bit convenient given my recent interest in making pizza myself.

These recipes are straight from Farm-Fresh Recipes. Both the dough and sauce are suitable to freeze, which turned out to be a Godsend when my son asked for pizza the following night after I had tried these recipes out. I had extra sauce in the fridge and dough in the freezer. Homemade pizza whipped up in minutes after returning home from school ravenous makes for quite the snack. This makes mum quite cool apparently.

Pizza dough

Ingredients (makes 4 small pizzas):

4 cups white bread flour

1 tsp salt

1 ½ cups warm water

2 tsp traditional dried yeast

5 tbsp olive oil

Method:

Combine flour and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine water, yeast and olive oil. Allow to sit for two minutes then whisk well and pour into the centre of the flour.

Using a pastry scraper blend the flour and wet ingredients to get them to bind together. Tip the dough onto a dry surface. It will look like a gooey mess at this point but do not add more flour as the dough will become too tough. 

Using your hands work the dough until it starts to bind. It sticks to the fingers which at first I thought was a problem, but Heather kindly points out in her book that this is normal for pizza dough. It should start to come together. Knead for about 10 minutes.

Place the dough into a floured bowl, cover with tea towel and leave to rest for one hour away from draft.

Preheat oven to 220oC.

Once dough has risen, divide into four equal portions. Using your fingertips fold the edges of the first dough portion over and press them into the centre to form a ball. Repeat about six times, tucking the edges into the middle. Repeat for remaining dough balls. Place each ball onto a lightly floured surface, cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Place the first dough ball onto a floured surface and start stretching it out to make the base. Using a rolling pin, push out bubbles formed in the dough. Once it is the size you want, lift gently with your rolling pin and lay out on a pizza pan or baking tray lined with parchment paper. I used a 26cm round pizza tray, but Heather states in the book that if made into a rectangular shape its size should be about 20 x 25cm. Roll thinner or thicker depending on how you like your crust.

Spread pizza sauce on the base (recipe to follow) and top with your favourite toppings. I prefer my pizza to have minimal toppings but ones that are rich in flavour. I panfried some thinly sliced lamb coated in Moroccan seasoning and added goat cheese, sliced cherry tomatoes, anchovies and rocket. Belissimo!

Pizza sauce

Ingredients (makes enough for 8 pizzas):

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 tbsp butter

Handful fresh basil

7 medium sized roma tomatoes, cored and diced

Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

Method:

Sautè onion and garlic in butter in a frying pan until fragrant, add tomatoes and sauté until soft.

Pour into processor, add basil, season with salt and pepper and blend until smooth.

** The original recipe calls for one 400g can of tomatoes although Helen mentions you can use fresh tomatoes. If using canned tomatoes, add them to the processor with the basil. Helen also adds 1/4 cup raisins to give the sauce sweetness, she adds them with the basil into the processor. 

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