Thursday, 26 May 2011

National Vegetarian Week - Home-made Pizza

Pizza is one of the country's favourite foods (I've got no statistics to back that up with, but I'm sure it's true) and it's one of my favourites too! When I go out to a restaurant I usually just order a margarita, or maybe a mushroom if I'm feeling particularly wild, but at home we like to pile our pizzas high.

My piece of the finished product - we bake square pizzas
You can really put just about anything on a pizza. I was recently eating in a French restauarant which offered topping such as raisins and “shoulder” (we decided it meant pork, but it was hard to tell), sometimes both at the same time. Pineapple is a popular choice. A boiled egg, even.

This pizza has our usual favourites: mushrooms, spinach, onion, tomatoes, blue cheese and mozzarella. In the past we've also had courgette, broccoli, garlic, spring onions and anything else that we have a glut of. For things that take a while to cook, like onion or spinach, it's a good idea to fry them first.

You can buy pizza dough ready-made, but it's so easy to make yourself and much more fun. For a pizza feeding three hungry pizza fans, we use 200g of bread flour (NOT self-raising flour, or you'll end up making some kind of mutant loaf).

Add 3/4 tbsp dried yeast, and a pinch of salt. Then slowly add 120ml of lukewarm water, mixing as you go to make a paste. The lukewarm water activates the yeast, so cold water is no use and hot water will kill it. Once all the water has been added and mixed, add a blob of butter, mix and squish together into a ball.

Dust a work surface with flour to avoid sticking, and roll out the dough. It may be that you need to split it into two or even three pieces, depending on the thickness of your pizza dough and the size of your baking tray.
I LOVE pizza! Can you tell?

When you've got a pizza-shaped piece of dough on a baking tray, smear it with tomato paste and add your toppings - put the cheese on last. Then pop into the oven at 200 degrees Centigrade for around ten minutes (as usual, check after about five to make sure nothing is burning). It's ready when the cheese has begun to turn a lovely golden-brown colour.

Mmm. Pizza. Drink lots of water as you eat it, or you'll be thirsty all night! I think it's because of the yeast. If anyone knows why pizza makes you thirsty, please let me know.

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