I don’t go out very often. I don’t mean this literally of course. I go out everyday except when Eldest Son has chicken pox, like he does at the moment. Then I stay in the house and read Thomas magazines. And watch Thomas DVDs. And search for Thomas episodes on youtube. And make Thomas cupcakes. I kid you not. The Thomas obsession only intensifies when fighting bugs.
What I mean is that I don’t often go out galavanting (as my Dad would call it) anymore. You see, I used to galavant a lot. Almost every night. Maybe I burnt out early, but the thought of my old social life makes me want to retire to bed with a cookbook and my slanket.
When I do go out I like to leave dinner ready for Mr B. It’s not that he’s not capable. Really it’s not. It’s more that I like to say thank you in a feeder fashion. In the form of a pizza kit – homemade dough, homemade tomato sauce, toppings cut up in a dish and of course a nice bottle of red to wash it down with. (Please excuse the frozen dough and sauce in the pic – photo taken early doors.)
You can use milk if you don’t have buttermilk. I think the buttermilk makes the dough seem lighter somehow and softer on the inside without compromising on the crisp crust. But that’s just me.
- 650g strong white flour
- 7g sachet of easy-blend yeast
- 2 tsp normal fine salt (Or ground Maldon if you’re so inclined.)
- 30ml olive oil
- 50ml buttermilk (Next to cream at the supermarket.)
- 325ml warm water (A little cooler than a baby’s bath.)
- A little semolina for rolling – not essential but makes for a crispier crust. Otherwise use flour.
To make the dough pop the flour, yeast and salt together into your food mixer bowl. Whizz together using the dough hook attachment set to medium speed. Then turn the speed to low and pour in the buttermilk and oil. Next add the water and leave on low speed until the dough looks elastic. Takes about 7 minutes. Remove from the mixer and cover with a damp and clean tea towel and leave in a warm place until it’s doubled in size. This takes about 2 hours in this house but in most normal warm places takes about 1.5 hours. Warning: this dough is stickier than most! Don’t worry if it doesn’t look as smooth and elastic as normal bread dough does. This is normal.
Once the dough has risen knock is back by turning it over with your hands three times whilst still in the bowl. Pop the bowl back into the mixer and knead using the dough hook on a low speed for about 2 minutes until your dough looks and smooth again. Remove the bowl and put the cloth back over the top and again leave in a warm place to prove for about 30 minutes to an hour. It should double in size again. Now it’s ready. Either divide into pieces, put into plastic bags and freeze or start making pizza.
If you’re making pizza with the dough rather than making guilt induced freezer dinner kits then first thing’s first, whack the oven to the highest setting and make sure the shelf is at the top. Remove the other shelves.
Take some semolina and put a handful on your work surface, then take your slightly sticky pizza dough and cover the whole thing in semolina – all sides. Then you can start rolling. (Use a wine bottle if you don’t own a rolling pin.) The aim is to get it as thin as possible without breaking. I never worry about the shape. Any shape pizza goes in the Bell house.
Put your dough onto a baking sheet making sure the edges don’t escape over the edge. Nobody wants burnt crusts. If you’ve made an especially large pizza then fold the dough into half and then quarters to transfer it to the baking sheet. Spread some tomato sauce over the top (I simmer a tin of chopped tomatoes, 2 tbsp of tomato puree, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp salt and 1 tbsp of sugar on the hob for about 30 mins but you can use ready made stuff) and then some cheese and whatever toppings take your fancy. Mr B likes some chilli chopped into the tomato sauce and then a general meat based topping. I like ham and pineapple but I was almost a child of the 70s so that might explain that.
Bake in the oven until the edges look brown and crisp and the topping is suitably cooked. Takes about 10 mins in my gas oven. Serve with napkins and a large pair of scissors for cutting. Much better than those little pizza wheel thingies.
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