Easy Homemade Pizza! (& the best garlic bread)

The key to great pizza is having a great pizza dough. It doesn’t matter how nice your toppings are, if the base is thick and stodgy – it’s going to taste ‘yeasty’ and it’s not going to be good. I’ve tried lots of different recipes and ways of making pizza dough, and some of them out there are pretty rubbish I have to admit, but I’ve incorporated the best bits of each into this tried-and-tested  recipe.

It’s super easy, quick, and way cheaper than any takeaway pizza. Plus you get to pick the toppings and personalise the flavours it to your liking! This one was inspired by the one I had in Lake Garda, Italy, and was topped with tomato, buffalo mozzarella, smoked pancetta, grilled artichokes, sweet piquillo peppers, parmesan, and a hint of chilli.

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This basic dough recipe can be used immediately, kept in the fridge overnight in clingfilm, or frozen for later use. I usually make a few pizzas then save the rest for proper pizza style garlic bread –  honestly it’s so good!

My tips for great homemade pizza:

  • Make sure you knead the dough well to develop the gluten. If you don’t knead the dough enough, it won’t stretch thinly and will tear easily
  • Don’t worry about getting it into a perfectly round shape! Once you’ve got it stretched out thin with a nice crust, just embrace whatever rustic shape you have. There’s no point trying to make it round because it just makes some bits really thick and doughy
  • Make sure you find some ‘Tipo-00′, ’00’, ‘double zero’ or ‘pasta grade’ flour. It’s a finer grade of flour that gives the dough a crispier base. (you can find 00 grade flour at most major supermarkets, but often not in convenience branches)
  • You don’t have to throw it in the air to get a nice thin base. Using a rolling pin is perfectly fine, but I also have an easy method to get it perfect by hand every time.
  • Once you’ve rolled out a rough circle, pick up the dough at one edge and quickly spin it round a couple of times in the air, gripping it by the edges at all times with both hands. The best way I can explain what this looks like is imagine turning a steering wheel quickly, but by pinching the handle with your fingertips rather than grabbing the wheel. Spinning the dough like this pushes more dough out to the edges, creating the crust, and makes the middle really thin and even.
  • Don’t add too many toppings! Pick a few simple and delicious flavours, and don’t add too much tomato to the base. If the toppings are too heavy or moist, it will just go soggy
  • Make sure the bread is fully baked otherwise it will taste raw and yeasty – the easiest way to do this is to make it thin in the first place
  • Never place the yeast and salt in direct contact -salt can prevent the activation of the yeast
  • Invest in a pizza tray (the round ones with little holes) or a thin baking sheet

Basic Pizza Dough Recipe: (Makes approximately 4 large pizzas and a couple of garlic breads)

  • 500 g Tipo 00′ flour
  • 6 g fast action yeast (most yeast portions come as 7 g sachets, so just leave a little inside)
  • 300-350 ml tepid water
  • 1/2 tsp of sea salt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus a little extra for later)

Method:

  1. Add the flour, yeast and sea salt to a mixing bowl, then drizzle over the olive oil.
  2. Add 300 ml of tepid water and mix the ingredients together by hand to form a ball of dough.
  3. Stop here and assess the consistency of the dough. The dough has enough water incorporated when it’s just a slightly wet and feels a bit sticky to touch. If it feels at all dry, add more water.
  4. Knead the dough rapidly on your work surface for approximately 7-8 minutes using a little more flour to stop it sticking. When it’s fully kneaded, I will become smooth rather than sticky and feel fairly firm and elastic. TIP: The purpose of kneading is to develop the gluten fibres in the dough which then gives the bread its structure. The basic process of kneading dough is to hold the end of the dough down with the fingers of one hand in a claw-like grip, then use the heel (wrist) of the other hand to push the dough away from you, gather it together again, and repeat. There are loads of youtube videos that explain how to do this! If you’re a bit slow, knead for 10 minutes rather than 7-8. You can use a dough hook on an electric mixer but this will only take 3-4 minutes.
  5. Place the dough in a large mixing bowl dusted with a little flour, cover with a damp tea teal and leave to rise (prove) at room temperature for 1-1.5 hours, or until doubled in size.
  6. After the first prove, ‘knock back’ the dough. This literally means knock the air out of it by giving it a few punches.
  7. Cover with the tea bowl again, and leave to prove again for another hour.
  8. While the bread is proving prepare the baking sheet/pizza tray by brushing with a little olive oil and dusting with flour and preheat the oven to 230°C electric/ 210°C fan.
  9. Once the dough has had its second prove, tip it out onto a floured work surface and divide into the number of pizzas you need.
  10. Roll out/stretch the piece of dough out using the method described in the tips above and quickly place onto the prepared baking sheet.
  11. Spread a light layer of tomato puree over the base, then add your toppings evenly, and lastly brush a little bit of olive oil over the crust before placing in the oven on the top shelf.
  12. Bake for 10-14 minutes until the crust is crisp and golden TIP: I find it’s best to cover the topping with circle of foil after the first 10 minutes. It stops the topping overcooking and allows the crust to bake all the way through.
  13. Slide onto a large board, cut into slices and serve!

Homemade Garlic Bread:

Simple roll out a small pizza base of dough, spread generously with garlic butter and bake for around 6 minutes. I make my garlic butter with roughly 30 g of butter, half a crushed garlic clove and some chopped fresh parsley.

 

 

 

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