Nothing beats a fresh homemade pizza and it is actually easier than you think, particularly if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook that can take care of the hard work of kneading for you. Of course, if you are pushed for time, you can use a ready made pizza base or ready made pizza dough that you just roll out, top and bake.
Making pizza at home with the family gives everyone the chance to join in with their favourite toppings and ingredients.
Basic Pizza Dough
15 grams active dry yeast
250 ml (1 large cup) lukewarm water
pinch of sugar
5 ml (1 teaspoon) salt
15 ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil – optional but it prevents the baked pizza from going stale and hard if you have leftovers
350 – 400 grams strong plain flour
Warm the mixing bowl by swirling it out with hot water and then drying it. Sieve together the 300 grams of flour, the yeast, salt and sugar and put in the mixing bowl. Make a hole in the middle and pour in the olive oil and half the water. Start mixing either by hand or with a dough hook, gradually adding more water and more flour until a dough forms and it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If you have an electric mixer and dough hook, knead for about 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and silky. If making by hand, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead thoroughly for 8 to 10 minutes.
Lightly oil a mixing bowl, form the dough gently into a ball and place in the mixing bowl. Cover with cling film and put in a warm place away from drafts so that the dough can rise – 2 or 3 hours, depending on temperature. You can also put it in the fridge and let it rise slowly for 12 hours so you can make it ahead and just assemble and bake.
When the dough has risen, beat it down with your fist and knead it again to get rid of big air bubbles. Divide into 4 balls, one for each pizza. Roll out each ball into a circle and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
Mushroom and vegetable topping
1 large onion, thinly sliced
200 grams mushrooms, sliced or quartered
100 grams blanched broccoli florettes
2 courgettes, cut into ribbons
Tomato pizza sauce (bottled or homemade, optional)
Ready made or homemade pesto as an alternative to the tomato.
mozzarella cheese, grated or cubed
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of dried oregano, marjoram or thyme
Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onions gently until soft. Set aside and do the same with the mushrooms.
Spread the pizza base with tomato sauce or pesto if using.
Arrange the onions, mushrooms, broccoli and courgette ribbons on top. Sprinkle with cheese and season to taste. Drizzle with a little oil and bake in a very hot oven (about 240 degrees centigrade) until browned and crisp. Serve immediately. In the unlikely event of any leftovers, serve cold cut into squares or small wedges as a snack.
You can experiment with different kinds of mushrooms to form designs on the pizza. You can use goats milk cheese or feta instead of mozzarella for a different flavour. Artichoke hearts and coloured peppers cut into strips make colourful and interesting additions.