June 13, 2017
Family Verdict:


For the dough:

250g Bread Flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp instant yeast

1 tbsp good oil

5 fl Oz water

For the tomato sauce if using

1 can good quality tomatoes

Make the dough at least 2 hours before you want to use it. You can make it the day before and prove it in the fridge, or prove it at room temp and then hold in the fridge. It is pretty versatile on timing

Put the flour in a mixing bowl. Ad yeast, salt, sugar in separate piles around the circumference of the bowl

Add the water and the oil and then mix with a dough hook for 8 minutes or so, until the gluten develops and the dough is stretchy. Alterntatively mix by hand and then kneed for 5 minutes or so on a floured surface.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover in cling film and allow to prove for at least 1 hour, preferably more. If it doubles in volume and you are not ready to use it, put the bowl in the fridge to slow the prove.

When you are ready, grab a handful, roll it out thinly on a floured board and with a floured roller. Add tomato sauce if using and toppings of choice

The bread needs baking in the hottest oven you can get - ideally a wood fired one, which will cook the pizza in about 2 minutes. In a normal oven at around 220 degrees it will take about 10 minutes.


Where to start with this one - a wide ranging subject with huge possibilities. I suppose I could start with FIRST - build your wood-fired oven.

WHAT? build your oven? well. yes. You se the thing is that Pizza is not so much a food as a social event. I did actually build a wood-fired oven in the garden the summer after the Late Wife became Late. I guess it was a project to keep busy and it was inspired by a trip to that holy of holies, the River Cafe. They don't cook Pizza but they cook a lot of their other food in a wood oven and it is all the more amazing for that. And I do cook other things in it too, but the Oven really comes into its own for a big social gathering on a summer evening where you can feed 20 people not only without fuss but with FUN.

Te fun element comes because you get your guests (adults and children alike) to roll out their dough, put it on the peal and then dress it with whatever toppings they want. Your job is to have the basics (dough, tomato sauce, Mozarella) to hand in sufficient quantities and then to encourage them to bring other things to top it with and, well busk it. There is no right or wrong just experimentation which informs the next one.

And the biggest hit I have time after time is simple garlic bread - a mix of butter, minced garlic and chopped parsley slathered onto a thin dough base,cooked for 90 seconds in the searing heat of the oven until it is puffed up, brown bordering on burnt around the edges and covered in gorgeous yellow and green flecked butter. The smell and taste is out of this world, with a hint of smoke at the back it is a universal hit with all ages.

The picture here is another white pizza - this was an Umami one, with garlic butter, anchovies and parmesan - a real salt and umami hit which was delicious.

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