You may think why bother to make pizza when there a so many available in the shops to just pop in the oven. But we promise, once youíve made your own youíll realise just how good a freshly made pizza tastes and itís so much cheaper than buying them.
Pizza dough is very simple to make and is basically bread dough made with a little olive oil instead of butter. You must use strong bread flour rather than plain flour and, if you use fast action yeast it will rise very quickly. To avoid a doughy base, make sure itís rolled out as thinly as possible before you add the topping and preheat the oven for about 10 mins to make sure it is hot.
A classic topping of tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil is delicious but you can add whatever topping you like from peppers, to pepperoni, pineapple and mushrooms. For best results donít pile on too much topping and use ingredients that are either cooked or will cook quickly. Raw chicken should be avoided but cooked chicken is fine. just make sure they are spread out quite thinly so they cook quickly.
For a quick tomato sauce base you can use ready-made passata, a jar of pizza topping sauce or pasta sauce. Alternatively you can make your own by cooking together garlic, onion, canned tomatoes and a pinch of dried oregano until thick and pulpy. Too much sauce on the pizza base will result in a soggy pizza so just spread it thinly.
Why not get the family to top their own pizzas with their favourite toppings, or even have a pizza party for the kids. You can of course double or triple the mixture to make more pizzas.
Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and add the yeast, salt and sugar. Stir in the olive oil then pour on the water.
Mix the dough with your hands until it forms a soft sticky dough, then turn out onto the work surface and knead the dough until smooth and elastic. To knead, push and stretch the dough away from you with the heel of your hand. Roll the dough back up towards you, give it a quarter turn and repeat.
Place the dough to a clean mixing bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size. This may take 15ó20 mins depending on the warmth of the room. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Fan 180C / Gas Mark 6.
Roll or pat out the dough thinly to roughly make a 30cm diameter circle and place on a baking tray. Spread the tomato sauce over the base leaving a small border around the edge, then top with sliced mozzarella and basil leaves.
Bake for 12-15 mins until golden brown and risen. Slice and serve hot.
Top with sliced pepperoni or salami and thinly sliced red pepper. Top with mozzarella and bake as before.
Smoky bacon and mushroom pizza
Spread the pizza with tomato sauce as step 4, then top with snipped, fried smoky bacon, sliced mushrooms and thinly sliced red onion. Sprinkle with grated Cheddar and bake as above.
Ham and pineapple pizza
Top with tomato sauce as step 4, then top with strips of ham and chunks of drained, canned pineapple. Sprinkle with canned sweetcorn and bake as above.
Spinach and roasted pepper pizza
Top with tomato sauce as step 4, then scatter over some lightly cooked spinach leaves, strips of roasted red pepper from a jar, thinly sliced courgettes and a few sliced olives. Top with mozzarella and basil and bake as above.