Thursday, 26 June 2014

Pizza Pan

Have you ever watched a random TV show that suddenly gets you completely hooked? I spend the first hour after I get home from work lounging on my bed watching random TV, and talking to my dad through the door, who is in the identical position on his bed. We both happened to be watching Gordon Ramsey’s Ultimate Cooking Course one evening, and couldn’t stop watching after.

My husband (oooh I said husband!) and I love making pizza. We love eating it even more, but hey who doesn’t! We bought ourselves a pizza book from Italy, as well as a wooden pizza tray and it makes things so so so fun. If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m an over excited cook, and I can’t make something without having ten people over to try it (even though it may bomb completely the first time). Queue pizza and ice cream night….

I’ve obviously not been working much, so I had a day to spend at home with my trusty kitchen aid (Mixie loves being on the counter all the time).

Sausage pizza, ready for the oven
Gordon’s Pizza Dough

You will need
500 grams flour
1 tbsp. sea salt (or fine salt, or any salt)
14 gms. yeast
1 tbsp. caster sugar
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
325ml lukewarm water

If you’re using a stand mixer, this is the easiest dough in the world, it kneads itself! If not, there’s always something extremely therapeutic about pummeling dough.

Step 1
Mix the flour and salt together and make a well in the middle.

Step 2
Put the yeast, sugar & oil into a glass with water and leave it to prove. This will become foamy, bubble and extremely yeasty to smell, that’s when you know it’s done. (Should take around 7 to 10 minutes)

Step 3
Slowly add the liquid to your dry ingredients, keeping the mixer on slow. You are using the dough hook, and not any paddle. If using your hands, bring the flour in from the sides with a fork and swirl it into the liquid until it starts to come together.

Step 4
Work the rest of the flour with clean hands, kneading till you have a smooth, springy dough.

Step 5
Put the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl, sprinkle with flour and cover with a damp cloth. Place in a warm room for an hour until doubled in size.

Step 6
Tip the dough onto a flour-dusted surface and knead it around (i.e. PUNCH IT UP) a bit to push the air out with your hands. You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in cling film, in the fridge (or freezer) until required.
(Timing-wise, it's a good idea to roll the pizzas out about 15 to 20 minutes before you want to cook them. Don't roll them out and leave them hanging around for a few hours, though - if you're working in advance like this it's better to leave your dough, covered with cling film, in the fridge.)

While you’re waiting for the dough to rise, why don’t you start working on the sauce? It’s the world’s simplest sauce and takes no time at all.

My homemade Pizza sauce

This recipe can double up as a pasta sauce as well. It’s simple, easy & requires the least amount of monitoring I've ever seen. 
You will need
2 400gm cans of peeled tomatoes
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 or 6 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
50ml tomato puree
Mixed Herbs to season
Salt & Pepper to season
Olive oil

Step 1
Add some olive oil into a pan and sauté the onions & garlic. You want them to become soft, but not burnt & brown. This should take between 5 & 7 minutes.

Step 2
Add both cans of peeled tomatoes to the pan. You need to pulverize these to make a sauce. I like using a potato masher and really squishing them up. If you’re so inclined, you could put the tomatoes into a mixer and blend them first. That makes the sauce much smoother.

Step 3
Let the tomatoes bubble and boil, and allow the water to evaporate. Season with salt & pepper to taste, and add a handful of herbs. I use rosemary and thyme, but there is really no restriction when it comes to herbs, any and all are wonderful. The pizza sauce should not take more than 25 to 30 minutes to cook, and you don’t really need to stand over the pan. Go take a shower, wipe down your kitchen counters, and maybe lay the table for dinner. It’s not going anywhere. 

A whole lotta passata

Making the Pizza

Pre heat your oven to 180degrees, and get rolling!

All set up and ready to roll
Once you're ready to make the pizzas, divide the dough into balls & keep them covered. The original recipe asked for 4 balls, I made them smaller (owing to the size of my pan & oven) and turned out maybe ten pizzas that day.

Production line begins

The original recipe asks for ovenproof pans, which unfortunately I don’t have. I did the next best thing and slipped the pizzas from my pans onto a silicon baking mat. It worked just fine.

Pizza Toppings

You will need:
2 balls fresh mozzarella, shredded (I was so excited to do this, that I bought 3 different kinds of mozzarella to try out. I wanted to measure the melting point of each, compare tastes, look & feel. If you’re like me, feel free, it makes things much more fun in the kitchen.)
Basil leaves
Olive oil
5 or 6 English breakfast sausages (I took the sausages out of their skins, sliced them into thin discs and lightly fried them, making sure they stayed soft)


Step 1
Roll one ball out on a floured work surface until it's the same size as your pan. (If you have 2 pans, you can do 2 pizzas at the same time, it works like magic).

Roll, roll, roll your dough

Step 2
Add a little olive oil to the pan and add the pizza base, pressing it into the pan. Cook it over a medium heat until the base crisps and the dough starts to cook through and bubble up, about 5-8 minutes. (If you’re Indian, this is going to look very much like bubbly naans while cooking)

Wrinkly old pizza base
Double time

Step 3
Spread 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce on them, and a heaping handful of shredded mozzarella. You can also add any other topping you want. I mixed things up and served my friends margarita pizzas as well as something I’d loved in Italy - salsiccia aka sausage! 

Sausage pizza, ready for the oven

Step 4
Put the prepared pizza on your baking mat and put into the oven until the toppings bubble and the cheese really starts to ooze everywhere. This should be another ten minutes. 

Waiting for the oven
Step 5
Drizzle with more olive oil, top with either basil leaves or rocket lettuce & serve on a wooden pizza tray.

I'm getting hungry again
Not plated yet!

A bit over exposed, but you get the picture
I served the pizza with simple salads to accompany:  Asparagus from a tin, marinated mushrooms, pasta salad and a rocket & iceberg lettuce salad.

Happy helper making the pasta salad
We approve

So I usually sign off with a bad pun or two. Want to hear a joke about pizza? Never mind, it's too cheesy.