Easy Peasy Pizza

I’ve never considered bread making difficult per se, just time consuming and labour intensive. When I was a kid my mum would always make dozens and dozens of mini pizzas and freeze them. She’d defrost them, heat them up in the morning and pack it up for us to have for recess at school. I loved them so much I used to have them after school for lunch as well. And as a snack in the afternoon. When we drove long distance to visit my grandmother, my mum would have packed us some of those mini pizzas and her miniature chicken pies with the most flaky puff pastry casing. It’s not really a wonder why I wasn’t a skinny child!

I so used to enjoy helping my mum out when she made the mini pizzas because I was so excited about having a freshly baked piece, and I honestly just loved my mother’s toppings. I never grew up craving pizzas from fast food chains like Pizza Hut or Domino’s because my mother’s was far superior. She’d top it with tomato paste, diced back bacon, green capsicum, slices of pineapple, little blobs of mayonnaise, sliced champignons, and a generous amount of freshly grated mozzarella. It was insane how good it was!

Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza

I’ve been thinking about making my own pizza dough for a while now and preemptively bought myself a box of instant yeast which has been sitting in the pantry for a few months. When I saw a recipe for it in the September issue of Delicious (it was on the cover!), I took it as a personal sign that I need to get my act together and just do it instead of waiting for a day with more time, more people, or more someotherlamereason.

I loved this pizza base because it wasn’t time consuming (I read some other recipes which included a longer rising time), it was straightforward and it was texturally delicious. It was bouncy and light and not at all chewy.

Pizza Base
Serves 2

7g sachet dried active yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
1 1/2 cups (225g) strong flour (I used Italian 00 flour)
1 1/2 tsp salt

1. Place the yeast and sugar in 150ml of lukewarm water and whisk with a fork. Stand at room temperature for 15 minutes until bubbles appear on the surface.

2. Sift flour and salt together into a bowl, and form a well in the center. Pour the yeast mixture into the well and combine with well-oiled hands until it forms a ball.

3. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic but if you’re lazy and lucky like me, just put it in your mixer with the dough hook!

4. Put the kneaded dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place for an hour until doubled in size.

5. Gently roll dough into a 3mm-thick rectangle on a floured surface, but not too hard that you knock air out of the dough.

6. Transfer to an oiled baking tray (I just used a Silpat), cover with a tea towel and stand in a warm spot for a further 30 minutes until slightly risen.

Rolled dough

Free-form ‘rectangle’ after being rolled

7. After risen, spread your topping atop the dough, leaving a 2cm border and bake for 8-10 minutes until cooked and golden.

Pizza

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Pizza

Generally speaking, pizzas should be minimalistic. I know I prefer it that way. If you’ve ever had really good Margherita pizza, you’ll be nodding along to this. But as always, when I get overeager about something, I overcompensate. Hence my pizza toppings was what I laughingly called the Everything But The Kitchen Sink Pizza. I will also say for this pizza, as the toppings were complementary, more was more!

While the dough was rising, I oven-grilled some sliced red capsicum and thinly sliced eggplants. This gave my dough a warm place to rise right beside the oven and for me to do something besides twiddling my thumbs watching the dough rise. Also, I was pretty excited because I got to use my brand new Benriner mandolin to slice the eggplant. I read somewhere that “Mandolins can sense fear” so I was trying very hard not to be a coward about it despite the shrinking size of the eggplant in my hands.

Side note: A Benriner mandolin is SO good. I’m not even kidding how fantastic and effortless this thing slices. I guess this is why it incites fear in people (and surely in me!) but damn I’ve never had such effortless slicing!

I topped the dough with Leggo’s tomato paste, diced bacon (mmm!), little dollops of mayonnaise, and topped it with freshly grated mozzarella. I baked it for 5 minutes, topped it with the grilled eggplant and capsicum, and baked for another 5 minutes. Popped it out of the oven, topped it with rocket and fresh basil leaves (highly recommend the basil for the aroma mmm!) and little pinches of buffalo bocconccini.

I could probably have gone lighter with the toppings on the pizza but they were superb. I could not get over how good fresh basil is on top of pizzas. That burst of aroma when chewing on a basil leaf sent me right over the edge. Oh, and if you think mayonnaise in pizzas is weird, I beg of you to buy whole-egg mayonnaise (none of that sweet mayonnaise crap – or just make your own!), top it with freshly grated mozzarella, and bite into that hot piece of pizza when it’s just out of the oven. I hate it when it’s not covered by cheese, and if it’s topped in swirls (I’m looking at you, Domino’s!). Just tiny little dollops will do the trick! Trust me on this, it will change your stance on mayonnaise on pizzas.

Here’s a cheater’s tip if you’re too lazy to make your own dough: buy some tortillas or paratha from the bread section in the supermarket and use it as a pizza base. I do that all the time for a quick and delicious pizza. I love thin crusts so this is the obvious choice for me, but if you love them thicker then go right ahead and get yourself some naan. Trust me, they make excellent pizza bases. We had an abundance of toppings (refer above to overeagerness and overcompensation) and thankfully I had some tortillas lying around so I made a third pizza with the remaining toppings and it turned out delicious too.

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