We followed the instructions for
basic pizza dough
in Susan Conte's pleasant little
Pizza And Pasta
dividing the dough into two balls to allow to rise.
We rolled out the pizzas using a rolling pin,
but many sources suggest some kind of stretching process using your fists.
Georgina gave something like that a try, but resorted to rolling after picking the bits up off the (fortunately recently-cleaned) floor.
Maybe next time we could try a bit harder - here's a description from an interesting page claiming to offer the
Best Pizza Dough Ever
from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice
Place the dough balls on top of the floured counter and sprinkle them with flour; dust your hands with flour.
Gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter.
Dip your hands, including the backs of your hands and knuckles,
in flour and lift 1 piece of dough by getting under it with a pastry scraper.
Very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion on your hands,
carefully giving it a little stretch with each bounce.
If it begins to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue shaping it.
Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss as shown on page 208
If you have trouble tossing the dough, or if the dough keeps springing back,
let it rest for 5 to 20 minutes so the gluten can relax, and try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, though this isn't as effective as the toss method.
Perhaps we didn't quite allow the balls to double in size,
and we certainly didn't bother leaving the rolled-out pizzas to rise for 20 minutes before adding the topping and cooking them,
but then the girlies were already STARVING
, so we were pressed for time.
As a result, the crusts were probably a bit heavier than they ought to have been.
It might have been nice to add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the water too.
The girls experimented tentatively with rolling the edges around some edam cheese to make a stuffed crust,
but I think that has to go into the category of "Needs Further Investigation".
Maybe it just needs a more robust cheese?
Due to the permanent uncertainty of what the girlies might deem acceptable food I brought three different sliced meats
- chorizo, pepperoni and pancetta.
Despite having requested pepperoni, this was judged to be too hot and the pancetta to be too fatty.
Fortunately the chorizo was approved by everyone - so full marks to me for anticipating that difficulty!
It's fun getting everyone to decorate their section of pizza,
but it can easily result in fights if you can't figure out who's portion is whose once the pizza is baked.
Black olives are very useful for marking the edges if you can make sure all the kiddies bits are squeezed in-between the grown-ups.
And it's not everywhere you can get away with that
(In case you were wondering - Rachel is having a stately pleasure dome
extension built on to her kitchen,
so cooking conditions somewhat resemble those at the Somme)
Feeds 3 hungry girls - and me
1 portion pizza dough
1 onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
Tablespoon tomato purée
fresh or dried oregano or thyme. Or other dried herbs
2 small cartons of passata or a tin of tomatoes
fresh Mozzarella, in ½" slices
black olives, sliced
Make your pizza dough and leave it to rise for an hour or until it doubles in size (if you have the patience).
Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce - gently fry the onion and garlic in plenty of olive oil until they are soft and translucent.
Don't brown them.
Add the herbs once the onions have got going.
Add the tomato purée and fry until the oil begins to separate out (if no girlies are looking you can toss in a glass of white wine and reduce it too),
then add the passata or tinned tomatoes and simmer until thickened to your taste.
Get your oven as hot as it will go (250°C/Gas 9in our case) and put in your pizza stone(s) to preheat.
Roll out (or spin out if you're brave) your pizza bases onto large floured plates or boards
and leave to rise for 15-20 minutes if you are allowed.
Spread them not too thickly with the tomato sauce, decorate with your choice of meat product and top with slices of mozzarella,
and olives (anchovies etc.) if you're a grown-up.
Carefully slide the pizzas off the boards onto the hot pizza stone(s).
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the crust browns and the toppings begin to bubble.
Slice, serve to all the wrong people and wait for the territorial battles to begin.