This Homemade Pizza Recipe for everything from the dough to sauce to the toppings, is the only pizza recipe you would need, this recipe is an adaptation of one of Nigella Lawsons, and such so fool proof, that i have never tried any other variant. This is the same recipe that we make in my Basics of Baking Workshops, and without fail, each of the students get hung with this preparation.
Repeated conversations about pizza / pasta sauces with Pallo of Thou Shalt cook .. tempted me to finally take the plunge. And i had everything in hand, lots of cheese, lots of veggies, good stock of meats. voila i was all set, still freaked out.. but totally thrilled. I also made a call to pallo to clear all my silly doubts.. and she entertained me in spite of that really bad throat she had.
Given we are a family with one hard core non vegetarian, the meat lover, and one veggie lover, i have to plan accordingly. I planned to pre-prep that kickass red pepper pasta sauce. Make a veggie’s heaven something similar to the Smokin Joe’s vegetarian woodcutter pizza, and a purely Meat Lover’s pizza.
When you plan to bake pizza at home you need to set aside 3 hours of your time, or separate the prepping of the sauce before, and all you need is a good 2 hours to prepare and gulp down some amazing fresh out of oven pizzas. Lets get started.
In the book she has beautifully stated about a homemade pizza that “While we all struggle to produce that thin crusted, charcoal redolent pizzaiolo’s pizza and fail, the Italians recognize that you need to go to the pizzeria for that and have instead devised a homemade alternative, doughier and with more topping, but very good in its own but different way.”
Except for the dough and the sauce i would not ask you to stick to anything in the list that follows. So pick your favorite topping or what your pantry allows, and go for it. The recipe asked for anchovies and gherkins and ham as topping, and mine is totally different. So listen to your heart and make that perfect topping for yourself. Same with the cheese, though mozzarella and parmesan are known to be the pizza cheeses, but As Nigella wrote, italians love cheddar on a pizza and we totally agree, cheddar was a riot on the pizza, nothing better!
- For the Dough
- 500 gm plain flour
- 2 heaped teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt.
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon powdered sugar or light brown sugar. (my addition)
- 250 ml warm water (the recipe asked for approx 300)
- 1 baking sheet, pizza stone, i used a spring foam base.
- For the Sauce
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 medium red peppers
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme / parsley or any herb of your choice
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 pinches of chilly flakes
- 1-2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tbsp water
- salt to taste
- For the topping
- 4 tbsp Pizza Sauce
- 3 tbsp Mozzarella cheese
- 5 tbsp cheddar cheese
- 1 tbsp powdered or shaved Parmesan
- 7-8 small cubes of feta , totally optional
- 1 small onion finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves finely slit lengthwise
- 3-4 tbsp of long strands of yellow and green pepper
- For the Veggie Woodcutter pizza
- 5-6 mushroom heads sliced finely
- 6-7 spinach leaves cut into long strands
- an inch of zucchini cut into thin round slices and then cut into half
- 4-5 cherry tomatoes cut into halves
- For the meat lovers pizza
- 4 strips of bacon cut into lardons
- 2 slices of medium cut hams cut into small squares
- add anything u have in hand, sausages, salami, name it, and have it, add it in there.
Directions for Homemade Pizza
Prepare the Sauce
1. Line a baking tray with a baking sheet, oil it well, spray some olive oil over all the veggies and place them as is in an oven and roast it, both top and bottom heating, for 40 mins, rotating it in between.2. Remove the veggies from the oven when the skin is all black and charred and not burnt. You may have to take the tomatoes out by the 20th minute else it will become very soggy, but doesn’t matter, it will just add t the flavor.
3. Let it rest for 10 minutes, when cool, remove the skin and cut it into rough small pieces.4. Heat some olive oil in a pan, add the onions and saute till brown on medium high, it will happen in no time as they are already baked.5. Now add the peppers and saute for another minute, now add the salt and the herbs or your choice. I also added a pinch of sugar, to balance the hit. Adjust the herbs as per your taste.6. Now add the tomatoes and saute for a good 5 minutes till its no longer soggy and a beautiful dark red / maroon color.7. Now add 2 tbsp of water to make it a little runny and saute for another 10 seconds and switch off the heat.8. Let it cool and run it on a blender, let it be a little chunky, and not make a fine paste of it.Taste it, your amazing pizza sauce is ready! You can do this way in advance and refrigerate the sauce to save time, and it can stay up to a week.
- Prepare the Dough
Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a large bowl, and stir in the warm water and the olive oil to form the dough. Reserve 2 tbsp of olive oil to use it to get the dough together towards the end.
Prepare a surface with a 8*12 inch cling foil stuck over it. When the dough starts coming together, turn over the contents onto the prepared surface. (Using a cling foil avoids using a lot of dusting on the surface and saves you all the mess a four dusted surface ends with.). Now knead it for a good 5 minutes with tight punches.
Do this till the dough becomes smooth and a little bouncy, though this dough will still be a little sticky, this is where the saved olive oil comes to use, to help you make the dough more manageable.
Make a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, and turn it around so that it is oiled well all sides and cover it with a cling foil. Leave it to rise for an hour or till it doubles in size.
Prepare the topping and preheating
When the dough if left for rising, use this time to wash and slice your vegetables, grate the cheeses, and thaw/ cut the meats.
Also when you are done with the prepping of toppings and you are left with 30 minutes of rising, start the preheating of your oven, preheat it for a good 20-30 minutes, at the highest temperature of your oven, 240C for me.
- Assembling the Pizza (7-8 inch pizza)
Take a handful of ball of the dough, press it onto the baking sheet into a round shape, never use a rolling pin, use your hands, oil you hands, start from the outer edge, and then move towards the centre, i didn’t write it wrong, this is what works beautifully.
Then apply the pizza sauce over it, at least 2 tbsp, but it totally depends on your choice. Leave 1/2 inch perimeter sauce free, to let the holding of pizza get easy.
If veg toppings, sprinkle the mozzarella cheese(1 tbsp) and the cheddar cheese(1 tbsp) and then top with your choice of toppings, and cover it again with some more cheddar(1 tbsp) and 1/2 tbsp or Parmesan sprinkled over it .
If doing the meat lovers, stop at adding the cheeses, bake it for 10 minutes, and only when you start the top rod heating add the bacon and ham. and also cover it again with some more cheddar(1 tbsp) and 1/2 tbsp or parmesan sprinkled over it . Again a tip by Pallo. Saved me.
Brush the corners with some olive oil, and it you want your pizza to get a little dramatic, sprinkle it with some garlic powder, or some cajun seasoning, else just leave it as is.
- Prepare the toppings while the dough is left to rise.
- The pizza is baked on the middle rack, over the wired rack, and a pizza stone or baking sheet over it.
- No need to keep the tray inside.
A pan style pizza, comparatively thicker ones take approximately 20 mins to bake, first 10-12 mins on the lower rods heating, and the last 8-10 minutes on the top rod heating.
A think crust pizza takes a little lesser time, say 15 minutes to get done, adjust the heating distribution, accordingly.
Whatever you use, a tray, a pizza stone or a spring foam base like me to bake the pizza, oil the surface, dust it and then sprinkle the surface generously say 1 tbsp of semolina for an 9 inch ring. This adds a beautiful dimension to the crust.