Friday night Pizza!
We have had a family tradition for years now. And it all started with the economy squeezing the life out of our favourite Pizza restaurant. We used to buy pizzas on Fridays, and then, shop closed. At the same time we saw a program by Jamie where he said that you could make a fresh pizza in the time it took to order one and had it delivered. So, necessity being the mother of invention, we made our own pizzas. And the rest is history. For seven years we have been making our own pizzas. Entrepreneursday at school – pizzas. Food markets – pizzas. We looked for a gas-fired pizza oven and found one in Hartebeestpoort Dam. (Not in the dam, no snorkels required!) An incredible inventor created a multi-level gas oven that cooks six pizzas simultaneously, and presses the bases for you. Hey presto, a mini factory!
The one thing we found was that if we made our own dough and our own tomato base, the result is just delicious. To such an extent that the kids did not ever want take-aways anymore. Also, we found that our house was suddenly very popular on Friday evenings for our kids' friend to sleep over. This is what you would call peer review!
There are three recipes here: The dough, the tomato base and the final pizza.
Step 1: The Dough
1 kg flour (bread or cake flour, I really cannot judge the difference in outcome)
620ml water (luke-warm – to activate the yeast)
1 packet (10g) of yeast. (I love fresh yeast blocks more, but battle more and more to find them).
1 Table spoon salt
1 Table spoon sugar
Mix in your mixer or in your bread machine (See under Appliances).
Step 2: Making the bases
Turn out the dough onto a flat surface. Roll it into a big tube.
Cut into 200g portions. (You should get 8 bases).
Now, unfortunately you will have to get the rolling pin out and burn a few calories.
Your result should be roughly circular shaped bases that are about 30cm in diameter.
We, on the other had, had fired up the gas pizza oven when we started, and at this time it is about 220 Celsius.
We just pop the dough ball into the press, clamp it, and eight seconds later – a perfect round semi-cooked pizza base! (Envy is bad, guys!)
Step 3: Making the tomato base
The secret is in your tomatoes. We buy 800g cans of whole plum tomatoes in tomato juice. Typically a 800g can costs around R17, but in December I found that the Pick and Pay house brand goes for R8! That is less than a typical 400g can! Bargain time!
So, in a saucepan, add a good lug of olive oil, and add one fresh garlic clove to it.
When the garlic turns golden (not brown, it goes bitter), add the tomatoes. simmer until the tomatoes are cooked. One of my culinary mentors, a lovely Indian lady at my favourite spice shop in Lyttelton (See our section on Shopping) gave me this wonderful tip – the tomato is cooked when the oil rises above the tomatoes. I then add a pinch of oregano, and Heidi adds a few fresh sprigs of basil.
When the tomato sauce is nice and sticky – it should not be runny or you will have soggy pizzas – switch off and let it cool.
You should not use it hot on the dough base or it again makes it soggy.
Step 4: Building your pizza
Now it's time for assembly. Place your bases on a flat surface, and with a big spoon ladle some of that lovely tomato sauce onto it, and with the back of the spoon spread it over the entire base. Not too thick, but also not a thin little layer.
In the mean time, the kids used the box grater, or lazy me used the food processor to grate a nice bowl of mozzarella cheese. We use about a cup of grated Mozzarella per pizza. Alex loves to add some cheddar, but I just think that's weird. (Sometimes I am a purist).
Cover the base with the tomato layer with an amount of cheese to your taste, but not to thick, or the cooking cheese will just flow off your pizza and end up at the bottom of your oven!
Sprinkle with oregano – this is the secret to the pizza taste!
Add toppings of your choice – remember, less is more.
Then pop in the oven.
Step 5: Baking your pizza
If you are using an oven, turn it op full whack – our electrical can go to 250 Celsius.
Place the pizza in the oven (the best is to use a pizza stone – a terra cotta circle that you bake the pizza on. This crisps the base beautifully).
The pizza should be ready in 8-10 minutes. I look at the cheese, When the cheese gets little golden brown bubbles, it's ready.