That's right. I haven't made a pizza since we moved into this house, mainly because my gas-hob-electric-ovens stove isn't wired in. Our only working oven is a combination microwave-convection oven and I'd never considered it as a pizza oven. With DH's encouragement, though, I thought I'd have a go. After all, what's the worst that could happen? We could always phone out for a takeaway.
Turns out, the dough recipe is engraved on my brain (just as well - I don't have the magazine I got it from). So was the tomato sauce recipe. Even more surprising, the ancient freeze-dried instant yeast still worked (use by date October 2001).
Make the tomato sauce while the pizza dough is rising. It needs to be cool before you dress the pizza.
Pizza Dough Recipe (makes sufficient for two pizzas)
2.5 cups strong flour (I used wholemeal)
1 cup of tap water
1 sachet instant yeast
Pinch of salt
- In a food processor, combine the flour, the salt and the yeast granules.
- Through the feeding tube, gradually add the water until the dough forms a ball. Note: you may not need all the water - it depends on the ambient humidity.
- Flour a pastry board or the kitchen worktop. Turn the dough out onto the board and knead by hand for a minute or so.
- Oil a large bowl. You can use spray oil or pour in a teaspoon or so of oil and swish it round.
- Place the dough in the bowl, turning it over until it is covered in oil (this stops it getting hard on top). Cover with a tea-towel and place somewhere warm and draft free to rise.
- When the dough has doubled in size (in approximately an hour), "knock it back": punch the middle of the dough to release the accumulated gasses and knead it for a minute.
- Cover again with the tea-towel and set the dough aside for its second rising.
- Repeat step 6. This time, though, after kneading the dough divide it into two and form into balls. If you are only making one pizza, pop the second ball into an oiled plastic bag and freeze.
- Flour your pastry board again and a rolling pin. Roll out the dough until it fits your designated pizza dish (I used to use a rectangular cookie sheet with a small lip, now I have a round one). Gently ease the dough into the pizza dish and leave it to rise for 20 minutes or so.
Pizza sauce (makes enough for two pizzas)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finally chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 x 400g/14 oz cans of chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2-3 black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon tomato puree/paste
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Gently fry the onion and garlic until the onion is transparent but not coloured.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil and simmer for at least half an hour or until thick.
- Remove the bay leaf, switch off the hob and allow the sauce to cool.
- If the sauce is too chunky for your liking, liquidize it to suit.
Assembling the Pizza
While the dough is rising in the pizza dish, prepare your other ingredients. We usually use a drained can of tuna, some salted anchovy fillets, sliced peppers and an equal mix of grated cheddar and shredded mozzarella cheeses.
If you like mushrooms on your pizza, you'll need to prepare them a day or two in advance. Slice the mushrooms thinly and let them dry out as much as possible, otherwise your pizza will drown in the liquid they release.
Preheat the oven to 250C.
Thinly spread the pizza sauce on the freshly risen dough in the pizza dish. Layer over your other ingredients.
Place the pizza on the top shelf in the hot oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until cooked.