10 April 2013

Pizza Nights

To round off Miriam's visit, we organised a pizza night. It is such a good, relaxed way to spend an evening with friends and is good for catering for lots of different people and tastes.

For the base we knead together all the ingredients below for 10-15 minutes and leave to prove for a couple of hours, before rolling into 6-8 small pizzas.
  • 250g strong white flour
  • 250g plain flour
  • 5g dried yeast (or 10g live yeast)
  • 10g salt
  • 325ml water
  • 1 tbsp oil (I use olive)
A tomato base is a must; if you have time, make your own from scratch, using 500g sieved tomatoes, roasted for 30-45 minutes with olive oil and garlic. My favourite cheat however, is to use a little pasta sauce, such as puttanesca , instead. The best thing about this is that we usually end up with half a jar left, which means I can use it to make a quick eggs in purgatory!
 My favourite toppings -
  • garlic-infused oil, artichoke hearts, mascarpone, Parmesan and basil
  •  Tomato sauce, prosciutto, black olives, peppers and mozzerella
  • Tomato sauce, onions, basil pesto and goats cheese
  • Others -Hawaiian, chicken and sweetcorn, whatever I can find...
To cook -have the oven preheating to it's highest setting. Ideally you should have a pizza stone as this cooks the pizza much faster. Alternatively use a tray, and give an extra couple of minutes in the oven. Stick the pizza stone or tray in the oven to get hot whilst you roll out your pizza. Slide the rolled pizza dough onto the stone (hot: use oven gloves!). I find that it is easier to add my toppings onto the pizza after placing on the stone; just remember to use oven gloves and a heat-proof mat!
Bake until the cheese is bubbling and the pizza or exposed toppings are starting to look a little charred. This only takes 6-9 minutes in a domestic oven, but if you're lucky enough to have an outdoor, wood-fired oven, you an have pizzas made in under two minutes. Now if that isn't fast food, I don't know what is!
Do make sure that you save a little dough (and room in your stomach!) to make a sweet pizza. I've heard of lots of fruity varieties, but I adore spreading on lots of soft Nutella, bananas and chopped hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds. The Nutella tastes even better on a warm pizza, and the caramelised bananas are heavenly.
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