Anyone who follows me on twitter probably knows that in my house, Friday night is homemade pizza and wine night. I’ve had a couple of people ask me how I make it, so I thought I’d share it with you.
I base my technique and recipe on Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie’s Italy’ cookbook and Richard Bertinet’s magnificent ‘Dough’ book. The rest is just what works for me, but I am sure that you will find your own way.
*A note on cooking temperature and times, Jamie and Richard both advise 250c / 500f for 10-12 minutes, but my oven is a rubbish old gas oven with a dodgy door, and if I try this my pizza frazzles because the heat is so uneven. I have described here the cooking temperatures and times that I use.

This will make you 2 large medium thickness pizza’s with the tomato sauce
For the dough:
325g / 11.5oz strong white bread flour
175g / 6.2oz strong brown bread flour
6g sachet dried yeast
1 level tsp salt
1 level tsp sugar
325g (not ml) 11.5oz tepid water
For the sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil (I used extra virgin)
2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped or crushed
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tsp dried basil
seasoning to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
To make the dough:
  • Pre heat the oven to 190c / 375f*
  • Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl, lightly mix them together with a fork.
  • Add the tepid water and mix together as much as you can with the fork, to form your dough. You are aiming for the flour to be amalgamated and there to be no sticky patches, but don’t worry too much.
  • Put the dough onto a clean worktop to start kneading, use a scraper to get the floury stuck on patches out of the bowl
  • DO NOT FLOUR THE WORK SURFACE! This is hard not to do, as when you start kneading, the dough is very sticky in places, and will get all over your hands. Trust me, DON’T add more flour, it will be ok!
  • To knead the dough, don’t use your fingers but the heel part of your hand. Personally, I steady the ball with my right hand, and with my left hand heel push the centre of the dough down and away from me, stretching the dough. Then as I lift my left hand up and back, I lightly roll the stretched flour back up to the middle and squash it in gently. Then with my right hand I twist the dough round slightly to the right. This means you gradually work your way around the ball. A baker may cringe, as this may not be the ‘proper’ way to do it, but makes mighty fine dough for me! Youtube has many videos, if you want to see something visual.
  • How long to knead? Only knead the dough as long as is required, and this takes experience. I used to knead it 10 minutes regardless, but Richard Bertinet advises you use your judgement and listen to the dough as it tells you when it’s ready. What a load of guff I thought, but next time I did it I paid more attention and after only 4-5mins thought ‘actually, this feels ready’ and stopped. I have been making significantly better dough ever since. So, the answer is, it depends! If you are new at it, it probably will take longer, up to 10 minutes, but certainly NO longer, or you will over do it. You will know when it’s ready because it is no longer sticky, and has a kind of life to it. It becomes bouncy and soft with plenty of give, and sounds like you are patting a baby’s bum when you pat it! (or maybe that’s just what it feels like to me…)
  • Flour the dough ball thoroughly.
  • Cover with a clean tea-towel or similar and leave the dough to rise for 30 minutes, somewhere warm (such as on the hob above the oven)
To make the sauce:
  • Open your tin of tomatoes first, as when you need to add them, you need to do it quickly.
  • Heat the oil gently.
  • Add the garlic and lift the pan off the heat, so that it is hovering an inch or so above and keep the garlic moving. You do this because garlic turns and is overdone so quickly, but you want as much of the cooked garlic to flavour the oil. Certainly no longer then 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes just BEFORE the garlic turns golden brown.
  • Add all the other ingredients and simmer for 20-25mins on a low heat, stirring occasionally.
Making the pizza:
  • Whilst you are waiting for above, prepare your topping (see below for ideas)
  • Your dough should have nearly doubled in size after 30 minutes.
  • Cut the dough in half and roll out half to a thickness of 5mm (re-flour the rest and place in a sandwich bag in the fridge if not using both, this will keep for 2-3 days). It will probably be about 14inches across, but will shrink a bit when you pick it up.
  • Flour the top thoroughly, spreading the flour around with your hand. This will become the bottom when you put it on the tray
  • Place the dough on a clean, large dry baking sheet or tray
  • Spread half of your tomato sauce on top, leaving a gap round the edge for the crust to form
  • Arrange your desired topping
  • Cook for approx 10 minutes on the tray, then try to remove it. The pizza should slide off easily, if it doesn’t, leave it for another couple of minutes and try again.
  • Depending on the topping, my pizza takes approximately 25-30 minutes*
Topping suggestions:
  • Our house speciality is thin sliced aubergine with pepper, red onion, capers or olives, anchovies and mushrooms, topped with cheese.
  • Another popular choice is king prawn with sweetcorn, mushroom, onion and chilli, topped with cheese
  • Other popular ingredients you could try: leek slices (I know, but they are wonderful, try it!), courgette slices, asparagus spears, blue cheese, goats cheese. Not necessarily on the same pizza!
Pick yourself a nice bottle of red, pop in a garlic bread onto the tray in the over when you first take the pizza off it, and you’re done.
If you decide to give it a go, please come back and tell me how you did. Pictures are even better! If you have any great topping suggestions, please leave a comment.
    Rachel x

    Rachel Lucie Johns

    Hi! I'm Rachel, a jewellery designer-maker & nature photographer. My work is inspired by the gorgeous countryside around West Yorkshire & Art Deco design. This blog is where I share my creative life and inspiration. find out more ...

    3 Comments

    1. Reply

      Rachel Lucie Johns

      11th July 2010

      Monica, great toppings. I had totally forgotten about sun dried tomatoes, how can that be?! Will remedy that.

      Thanks for comment about the picture, I am amazed it was ok. Just out of shot is a very hungry Gary moaning that I am taking pictures of our tea, instead of us eating it! I only had a couple of minutes…

      Thanks Chrissie, when ever you like! :)

    2. Reply

      Chrissie

      11th July 2010

      Well well the famous pizza on the blog and what a corker it looks too.!!
      Right when can you bring one round to share we can provide salad and vino.?

    3. Reply

      Monica

      11th July 2010

      YUM! Your dough recipe is very similar to mine.

      The photo of your pizza and wine is mouthwatering!

      I usually use some combination of these toppings….kalamata olives, marinated artichoke hearts, raw garlic, fresh basil and sun dried tomatoes.

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