Pizza is good in many ways, from the authentic Italian-restaurant-woodfire-oven pizza to the greasy Domino’s one. Of course, we might all disagree in which one is our favourite, but most of us will agree to disagree, because we agree that we love pizza.
In Dublin we have Lucio, Paulie’s, Manifesto, The Big Blue Bus… Plus all the home delivery fast-food pizzas. When we crave pizza we either go out or order in, that simple. But today I will talk about my favourite kind of pizza: homemade. Just like making your own pasta will awake a 6th sense in you, making your own pizza dough and placing the sauce, cheese and toppings will bring the pizza experience to a whole other level.
I cannot remember when the first time I made homemade pizza was, but I know it was with my aunt Merce and most surely at her place, in her kitchen. My aunt is pretty awesome in that if she likes something, she just makes it. Her motto wouldn’t be “I think, therefore I am”, but “I like, therefore I make”. She will make a big batch of pizza dough, split it into individual parts and freeze the balls of dough until next time – super efficient and practical, right? But the best part would be the moment when she asked: what do you want on your pizza? Aaah… Who doesn’t love that question? There is something about having a choice, a say, on the toppings of a pizza that I can’t explain in words, but I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about.
How to make pizza for X people? Learning the ratios.
When making a dough, sometimes we can get lazy because we picture the weighing and measuring amounts as a tedious task. Ideally, though, we would want to cook with barely any recipes (absolute amounts) but with ratios (proportions). The table below shows the process of understanding a dough recipe and figuring out the proportions. This will allow us to be more flexible and adaptative.
|Ingredients||4 pizzas||%||For every 100g of flour…|
E.g. I want to make pizza for 8 people – easy, I double the amounts. Say I want to make pizza for 11 people – I know that 100g of flour will yield 1/2 large pizza or 1 serving, so I know I need 100g*11 = 1100g (1.1kg) of flour. Then I calculate the proportion I need of water, oil, yeast and salt, and done!
Now that the dough is done, comes the even more joyous part: choosing the toppings. The possibilities are endless and you can make this is as strict or flexible as you want. Just as you can set a crêpe-making station and let everyone pick and choose what they want, you can do the same with pizzas. You can pre-cook the rolled out dough in individual servings, then let each person be creative. This is how it can look:
- Sauce: tomato sauce, pesto(s) – or no sauce at all!
- Cheese: mozzarella, goat, parmesan, Roquefort or any blue cheese, feta, halloumi…
- Veggies: purple or regular broccoli, leeks, onions, peppers, courgette, sweet potato…
- Animal: egg, ham, minced beef, chicken, pulled pork
- Herbs and nuts: basil, parsley, mint, walnuts, cashews, pinenuts…
In the picture you can see we made 2 different types of pizzas, one with green pesto, the other using tomato sauce. I also sautéed the leeks and purple broccoli (stalks and leaves, chopped) in the pan, so the veggies would be sweet and cooked. I finally caramelised some crushed walnuts with a little honey and added them last. We only baked the pizza for 8 mins at 220º (this is why we precook the veggies).
After 8 mins, we removed the pizza from the oven, sprinkled some grated parmesan and freshly cracked black pepper. We sliced it in equal pieces and devoured it in less than the time it took to bake it! Yes, that’s how cooking works: you give in your time in exchange for a few delicious minutes of happiness.
Making pizza is not like frying chicken on a pan, I won’t lie. But it is incredibly easy compared to what everybody must thing. The most time-consuming thing is the dough, and still, this can be done really quickly if you skip the dough-proving time.
I hope you try making this and enjoy the whole process just as mush as I did.
Peace & pizza,
Recipe: Homemade pizza
Total time: 1h30 mins or 1h without proving. Once you make the dough, you can freeze in individual portions (balls) in the freezer, wrapper in cling film. Next time, you can unfreeze the dough the day before and to prepare a pizza will be quicker (toppings + baking).
Notes: makes, 2 large pizzas, serves 2 hungry people or 4 people sharing and adding a salad/soup. I used a scale to measure all ingredients in grams.
- 200g water
- 1 tsp sugar or any sweetener
- 7g bread yeast (1 sachet)
- 400g (I used 200g white flour, 200g whole wheat)
- 35g olive oil
- 5g salt
- Tomato sauce or green / red pesto
- 3 leeks
- cheese: you could use any! I added: parmesan, mozzarella and a French smelly cheese that we had in the fridge
- purple broccoli
- caramelised walnuts (mix with sautée them in a pan with sugar or any sweetener)
Prepare the dough
- In a small bowl, pour the water and heat it up in the microwave for 20 seconds (until warm but not burning). Add the sweetener and the yeast, mix together and let it “think” for 5 minutes (surface should become bubbly).
- In a large bowl, add the flour(s), oil and salt, stir well. With your fingers, make a well in the middle and add the yeast & water.
- Coat your hands with flour and mix well until it all comes together.
- Knead the dough for 5 mins and let it prove in a bowl covered in cling film for about 30 mins, or until it doubles its size. You could skip this step if you are in a hurry.
- Divide the dough into four equal parts. Place the ball on a baking sheet sprinkled with oil & flour, coat a rolling pin with flour and roll the dough until you obtain a 5mm thick base.
- Bake in the oven for 8 mins, without toppings or sauces. You now have a precooked pizza base.
Let’s add the toppings
- Spread the pesto or any other sauce.
- Add the rinsed broccoli sprouts.
- Add the different cheeses.
- Bake in the oven for about 8 minutes or until cheese starts toasting a little.
- In the meantime, sauté the walnuts in a small pan with some agave syrup for a few minutes or until golden (but not burned).
- Add the walnuts to the pizza 3 minutes before removing it from the oven.
- Once outside the oven, sprinkle with spring onion, basil or parsley.