Making homemade pizza is easier than most people realise. The trick is getting your oven hot enough to cook the dough quickly. When cooked in an earth oven, the pizzas have a wonderful contrast of slightly burnt crispy bits and softer parts. If you’ve made yourself a pizza oven in the garden, this is a great recipe to try out cooking a pizza in it. Once you’ve cracked the recipe, why not host a pizza party and invite friends round to make their own pizzas? The choice of pizza toppings is endless.
For a conventional oven at home, heat it to 240˚C/475˚F/gas mark 9.
For 4 50 5 pizzas
- 6tsp dried yeast (or three 7g sachets of quick yeast)
- 30g sugar
- 630ml tepid water
- 1kg strong bread flour
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 3tsp (18g) polenta
- topping: a homemade tomato sauce as a base topped with a little of what you fancy and a scattering of cheese should be enough – but don’t overdo it.
- Dissolve sugar in half the water. Sprinkle in yeast and stir. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add yeast mix when it begins to froth.
- Stir in rest of water, and then add olive oil. Mix until it forms a ball, then knead for 5 or 10 minutes on a flat surface. If too dry, add a little more water. If sticky, dust in a little flour. Aim for a smooth texture that’s not too difficult to knead.
- Leave in a deep bowl covered with a damp cloth in a warm, draught-free place. It should double in size within and hour.
- Divide dough into 4 or 5 balls and roll out to 1/2-1 cm thick.
- Cover with topping – our favourite is homemade tomato sauce, mushrooms (pre-cooked in butter), garlic, sliced fresh tomato topped with mozzerella and garnished with a little basil, salt and pepper. Put pizza on a non-stick tray and bake for 5-10 minutes. If using a pizza oven the pizza can be put directly on the oven floor with a ‘peel’: a wide wooden or metal utensial that can support the whole pizza. Scatter polenta on the peel to stop pizza sticking.
Recipe Cleve West
Photo Andrew Montgomery