I decided to go retro this week. Retro in my own little way. For the other night I had a dream about being back in my old Home Economics lessons and making my own pizza dough.
I decided to give it a go and see if I fared any better this time around than I did twenty years ago. When, as I recall, the end result was rather stodgy and claggy. Perhaps it wasn’t helped by the wonky pizza living in a wicker basket in a warm room for the day, as so many results of our cooking lessons had to do. I’m amazed I didn’t poison most of my family given the strange concoctions which sat on the side in the Home Ec room, hoping that we would remember to take them home on the bus. I’m even more amazed that we ate them for dinner. My mother still has the basket by the way. Fortunately she’s given it a good scrub out so it’s slightly more hygienic than it was back in the day.
Anyway, so it turns out googling pizza dough recipes isn’t the answer. For so many of the recipes were unclear and frankly confusing (even I know that you need to activate the yeast before you use it!) that I reverted to my beloved cookery books. And then I turned to Twitter. And finally, came up with something that sounded plausible. It’s an amalgamation of recipes and ideas and tips which actually turned out ok. So I’m able to share it with you, without fear of causing an outbreak of food poisoning. I don’t think Paul Hollywood has anything to worry about though.
I was advised by the lovely LoveBread CIC (@LoveBread) that the best thing to do to guarantee a thin and crispy style pizza was to add semolina to the dough, replacing some of the flour. So, ever one to throw myself into the abyss, I went for it.
The half a bottle of red wine I consumed whilst making said dough certainly helped with the courage if not with the technique. That’s something that never happened in Home Ec, despite the best efforts of some of my classmates.
- 5fl oz warm water
- ½ tbsp dried yeast
- A pinch of sugar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 7oz strong white bread flour
- 2oz semolina
- 1 tsp salt
Mix the warm water with the yeast, sugar and oil. Mix and leave for ten minutes or so to froth up and make your kitchen smell like a brewery. Pour wine.
Place flour, semolina and salt in a large bowl and mix. Drink wine. Remove rings.
Pour in the wet ingredients and mix with a spoon and then with your hands. Keep going until you have a workable dough, adding a few drops of water or a bit more flour if you need to. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for five minutes until glossy and stretchy. Return to the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for an hour. Drink more wine and wait. Decide to call a friend to tell them you are making pizza dough. Drink more wine.
Turn it out of the bowl, whilst still on phone, and proceed to knead it vigourously, terrifying said friend with the grunts and puffs involved.
Now, at this stage, you can either freeze it, divided up into portions, or pop it in the fridge, or use it.
I put it in the fridge, in a lightly oiled bowl, covered in more clingfilm.
When I opened the fridge in the morning it was to discover it had grown to twice its previous size, taking out a bowl of olives and sun dried tomatoes in oil on the way. So, balance it carefully.
And perhaps don’t drink so much wine.
Leave it to warm up and then knead it until pliable and you can stretch it out to make your pizza. Add toppings of your choice and bake for about 10-15 minutes.
Hints and tips
- Have your oven as hot as it can be
- Use a hot baking tray to obtain a crispy bottom (for the pizza, not yourself)
- Be courageous – roll and stretch the dough as thin as it’ll go – I could have gotten another pizza out of this amount of dough if I’d had the nerve to do so