A pizza pie with a topping of your choice

AKA Magherita for several.

You will need:

Base:

4 cups flour

1 Tbsp salt

1/2 tsp dry yeast granules

Warm water to mix

Oil for working with the dough.

Topping:

1 400g can chopped tomatoes

1 x 150g tub tomato paste

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

Some oregano if you have it

1 tub of live fresh basil

500g grated mozzarella cheese.

Method:

1. Put all the base ingredients except the water in a large bowl and mix. Make a well in the centre.

2. Make a well in the centre. Fill the well with warm water and mix, adding more water bit by bit as necessary until you have a sticky mix that has taken up all of the dry flour. Take care to check the bottom of the bowl to make sure that you haven’t left any pockets of unmixed flour. Dough should be quite wet and sticky but not completely liquid. Leave covered in a warm overnight  spot or for at least 12 hours.

3. A couple of hours before you plan to assemble the pizzas, tip the sticky dough out onto a bench with a couple of cups of flour spread out on it to prevent the dough sticking. Fold either side of the dough mix into the centre, bringing in a little of the flour with each fold. Continue doing this until the mix has become dry enough to handle.

4. Cut chunks of dough about the size of a grapefruit off the main lump (about 200g each if you have scales. Knead by turning the sides of he lump into the centre (as you did for the main lump) until you can form it into an elastic ball. Dust with flour and set aside to rise. Do this until all the dough has been formed into balls.

5. While the dough is proving (starting to rise again), put the tomatoes, paste, salt, sugar and oregano into a blender and blend until smooth. If you have a stick blender just put the ingredients into a bowl and blend.

6. Set your oven to its hottest baking temperature (should be about 230 C.) While it is coming up to heat, Put a good splot (about a tbsp) of oil on the tray or pizza dish that you’re using. Dip your fingers in the oil and pick up one of the dough balls and massage it out into a round, making sure the tray under it is oiled.

7. Spread with a good amount of tomato sauce, then dot with whole basil leaves before lightly covering with grated mozzarella.

8. You can cook two pizzas in the oven at once, but if you do, switch them around (under and over) about half way through cooking so that the cheese starts to brown but the base is also cooked. If the oven’s hot enough they should be cooked in about 15 mins. To check, lift the edge and peer at the base to make sure it’s starting to colour up and is not still white and flabby. Slide of the tray, chop up and scoff, then prepare and cook the next couple, and so on.

Variations:

You can, of course, add more interesting toppings as you wish. I would normally put extra stuff (like salami or veggies) on top of the basil and sauce but before the cheese. If you don’t have mozzarella, edam will serve pretty well. It’s also good to add a bit of grated parmesan with the plain cheese to give it more flavour. The whole recipe can be scaled up or down. None of the quantities are particularly critical. Any leftover dough can be wrapped in cling film and kept in the fridge for a few days. It will make quite a nice loaf of bread, or bagels, or pinwheel scones, or even the wonderful Gozleme. You can even (dare I suggest it) replace a cup or so of the plain flour with wholemeal if you want to get some fibre in you.

How it ought to look:

davA bowl of wettish, bubbling dough and a thick layer of flour to turn it out onto

davFolding extra flour in to the main lump to dry the dough out a bit

dav200g balls of dough carved off, kneaded and set aside to prove

IMG_20170428_175118.jpgThe fixings required for a fine tomato base

IMG_20170428_175658.jpgBlending them up nice and smooth

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