Pizza has become something of a classic, easy to eat comfort food. It’s hot, filling, tasty and also surprising hassle-free to make – even without a special wood-fired oven. I always recommend DIY dishes over their store bought alternatives; fresh is invariably better than frozen, processed and pre-packaged. To help you get to grips with the iconic Italian flatbread, I’ve put together a list of 7 tips for great home made pizza; enjoy!
1. DIY Dough
Pizza dough is not difficult to make, and if you happen to own a bread maker, it’s an absolute piece of cake. If you are using your own hands, however, all you’ll need is flour, dry yeast, water and a little sugar and salt. There are myriad variations on recipe out there – find one that works for you and stick to it.
2. Manage Your Time
Home-made dough needs time to rise so, unless you’re keen to eat in the middle of the night, you’ll want to make it relatively early on in the day. If you can, get the process done in the morning; this way, you’ll have the midday sunshine as a raising agent.
3. Tomato Sauce
You can buy really great tasting tomato sauce especially designed to go onto your pizza, but if you’re keen to keep things as authentic as possible, you might want to consider making your own. My favourite way to do this involves heating thick, concentrated tomato paste with garlic, basil and oregano in a pan, and then adding a can of peeled plum tomatoes. Simmer for about thirty minutes then squash down your tomatoes (now very soft and juicy) with a fork. Keep on the heat for a little longer until the sauce is slightly reduced, season to taste and voila!
4. Prepare Your Toppings
It’s a good idea to have the toppings for your pizza organised before you get on with rolling out your dough. Try to get everything chopped, shredded and grated in advance; this will help to keep the business of sprinkling and spreading running smoothly so you can get your prepared pizzas into the oven as quickly as possible.
5. Shape up
Unless you have a pizza pan, or you’ve mastered the art of throwing the dough from hand to fist like the authentic Italian professionals, you might want to consider shaping your pizza into a rectangle rather than a circle. This is invariably easier to manage, even if it does mean your slices need to be a rather unconventional oblong shape.
6. Oven Mat
I find non-stick oven carpet invaluable to the business of making pizza at home. It’s available from most good supermarkets and cookware specialists, and it prevents your baked goods from adhering to the bottom of a pan. As a rule, I roll out my dough on a floured rectangle of oven mat and then lift the whole thing easily into a shallow tin.
7. The Crisp Factor
It’s very important that you manage to get the texture and ‘stiffness’ of your pizza right. I usually bake mine at around 180˚ Celsius for between 12 and 15 minutes. Before you remove yours from the oven, lift up a corner and examine the underside; it should be beginning to go a darker golden brown in places, and should feel resistant and not floppy or soggy.
I’m a big pizza fan; I think it’s great social food because it can easily be shared amongst a party of friends, and because most of the preparation can be done in advance. Hopefully, my list of 7 tips for great home-made pizza has inspired you to try out your own variations; do you have any suggestions or ideas to add to it?
Top Photo Credit: Haseo