Fridays and Sundays seem to be the usual nights for family pizza nights however it can be just as good any night of the week. This week it was a Thursday for us! Sometimes if we’ve been out all day the quickest way to enjoy pizza night is by buying a pack of lebanese flatbread and topping with our favourites but lately we’ve been making our own dough. It is the perfect dough in my books. Easily rolled nice and thin so it is not puffy and doughy to eat but neither too crisp and crunchy. Far better than the pizza from the “man on the motorbike” ( as my kids have labelled any type of food delivery) as you choose your own best flavour combinations for the topping and you can take it ALL the way to the edge! Nothing worse than that bit of dry empty crust when its not the greatest dough!
Toppings choices are endless! We always use a simple tomato sauce base, and top each pizza with fresh grated cheddar. Heres a list of some of our favourite things to add as well:
Fresh Tomato, blobs of pesto, feta cheese crumbled, basil leaves, salami, kalamata olives pitted, ham, mushrooms, red pepper, shallots, rocket, spinach, cooked shredded chicken…
The best part is the limitless possibilities these ingredients allow. Kids usually pick their own toppings and tonight we made a couple of new combinations as well as a simple tomato and cheese and olive for the little middle boy with a fussy palate; Mushroom, crumbled feta cheese and fresh thyme and showcasing one of my new favourite ingredients – smoked cheese and rocket salad. For this topping I replaced the usual cheddar grated cheese with thick slabs of smoked cheddar. I dressed a large handful of rocket with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper, mixed it with some fresh shaved smoked cheese and topped the cooked pizza with the salad. Smoked cheese is one of my latest fads, its such a good flavour, I think i’ll be trying to add it to a few more recipes for an interesting twist so stay posted for more on Smoked Cheeses! There are some that I am waiting to sample on the British Fine Foods website.
Anyway, the recipe for our dough:
275ml warm water
1 tablespoons sugar
10g dried yeast
350g strong bread flour, plus extra for kneading
3/4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon coarse salt
In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together 90ml of the water, sugar and yeast. Let it stand for 5-10 minutes or until it is creamy and a few bubbles have appeared on the surface. Add the remaining water, 3/4 of the flour, olive oil, and salt and stir until smooth. Gradually add in the remaining flour while stirring. Continue mixing until a dough forms and begins to pull away from the edge of the bowl.
On a lightly floured bench, knead the dough until smooth and elastic (probably about 8 minutes). You can do this stage in an electric mixer with a bread hook attachment, it should be done in half the time and without the dough fingers but I must admit I quite like a kneading session so I often opt for the hands in option! (quicker washing up time too!)
Form the kneaded dough into a ball, dust with flour and gently place in a large bowl and cover with cling film. Place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size ( around 1 1/2 hours).
Be sure to preheat your oven to ensure it is nice and hot when your ready to cook, have it on the highest setting you can. This amount of dough makes 4 large dinner plate size pizzas. Divide dough into 4 and using more flour or semolina if you like, roll out to about 1/2 cm thick. Place on a baking tray and top with the ingredients of your choice. Cook in your hot oven for 6-8 minutes.
Any great pizza combinations of your own? You need to share…