My first SAVOURY post!
I know the title seems very pretentious but ohh well! So this pizza is basically loaded with toppings. This pizza is loaded with tomato sauce, fresh basil pesto, caramelized balsamic red onion, soft ricotta, yellow pepper and mushrooms. You can add courgette as well – unlike me who forgot!
I made a soft white pizza base- very simple- just four ingredients (not including water). All you need is STRONG flour or it could be called Bread flour. The reason you need strong flour rather than just plain old flour is because it has a higher gluten content. This is good for bread as it gives the bread that light kinda pleasantly chewy texture. When the dough has been kneaded and left to proof (left to rise). The yeast- the ingredient that makes the dough rise) creates lots of carbon dioxide which then stretches the gluten strands. THe gluten strands effectively “catch” the carbon dioxide trapping it into the dough. This leaves the dough to be light. If not you will have a very heavy dough- thats not nice¬ Jeezzz… that got a bit technically.
Onto the kneading- as I mentioned in the previous paragraph the dough needs to be kneaded-
ha needs to be kneaded; such a good pun! This stretches the gluten strands. I find it is easier to knead by hand, probably because I don’t have a mixer. It may take longer than in a machine but if you don’t have one- don’t worry! You get a good workout- no knead need to go to the gym!
Yeah cause I totally go to the gym; not
To knead the dough. To start off with grab the base of the dough with one hand. Then, with the other hands, pull it out in front of you. Then with the palm of your hands fold the dough back gradually to the other hand. This may sound confusing- if so please see the video:
The dough needs to be left to proof twice. This can take some time but you can happily leave the dough on it’s own. YOu don’t have to wait around for it. YOu can even make the dough the night to proof. I have found two ways to speed up proofing: One way is to use WARM water NOT hot as if the water is too hot it kills the yeast and you’ll get a heavy dough. The other way is to place the dough into a warm room like the boiling cupboard or something like that. Cover the dough with oiled clingfilm or a damp tea towel to prevent a skin from forming.
Sorry that was a lot of talking-
Serves: Three large or four small
For the dough:
- 300g Strong or Bread White Flour
- 7g Packet Fast Action Yeast
- 1 tsp Sugar- only needed if you are activating the Yeast- See step 1
- 1 tsp Salt
- 3 Tbsp Oil
- 250ml Warm Water
- Oil for greasing
For the Tomato sauce:
- 400g Tinned Chopped Tomatoes – see Note
- 2-3 Garlic Cloves
- 1tsp Dried Basil and Oregano or Mixed Herbs
- Salt and Pepper
For the Toppings:
- Basil Pesto (about 2 tbsp)
- Half Yellow Pepper
- Ricotta (about 2 tbsp)
- 1 Large Red Onion
- 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar – I used white balsamic
- 1 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 tsp Oil
- 1 bag of grated mozzarella or 1 ball of mozzarella
- Start with the yeast. To activate it you combine the yeast with 1 tsp Sugar and 1 tbsp warm water. Leave for about 15 minutes until foaming- this is an optional step.
- Into a large bowl add the flour and salt. Stir to combine. Then make a well in the flour and pour the activated yeast and oil in. Add about half of the warmed water and stir to combine. The flour should start to form a dough.
- Add a little more water, this is if it is too dry. Make sure you give the dough a good mix with your hands to make sure everything is combined. Then, after you have squashed the dough together and it is still too dry; add a little more water.
- The dough you are looking for is one that cleans the bowel. There should be no rogue dusting of flour left! It should be quite soft but not so soft it sticks to your fingers.
- Oil a work surface- this can be vegetable oil. Tip the dough out onto the oiled surface and start to knead. See paragraph four to learn how- you should knead for about ten minutes.
- After you have done the window pane test. Oil the a bowel (you can use the bowel that the dough was previously in!). An cover in cling film or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile you can make your sauce. Into a bowl place the tomatoes, garlic and herbs and blend using a hand blender until smooth. Set aside for later.
- You can prepare the toppings. Chop the onion in half and slice into slices (length ways). Then into a small saucepan add the oil, onions, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Place onto the hob on a low heat. Cook until translucent and soft. The colour the onions turn is a beautiful purple.
- Deseed the pepper and slice the pepper into matchsticks. Then chop the mushrooms into slices. Set the toppings aside.
- The dough should be double the size, remove the cling film or tea towel and turn the dough out onto a floured surface. To knock back the dough, you basically knead it for a couple of minutes. Then split into three equal portions.
- Transfer onto a tray and cover again. Leave for another hour or until double the size.
- About ten minutes before you are ready to roll the pizza out, turn the oven to the highest setting it will go to. Then place a clean large baking tray- this needs to be large enough to fit the pizza on- into the oven.
- After this, carefully take one portion of the dough out and roll into a rough circle shape. For a thin base it needs to be about 1/2cm thick- if you want an actual circle take a circular object the right size (so it covers the most of the dough) and cut around it using a knife.
- Transfer this too a piece of non-stick baking paper. To do this flour a rolling pin and place the rolling pin in the middle of the dough. Gently place the top part of the circle over the rolling pin (so it covers the bottom half). Lift the dough up, using your one hand and with the other quickly, place the baking paper under the dough. Then unfold the dough.
- Then, place about three tablespoons of the tomato sauce onto the pizza and spread out evenly using the back of a spoon- you need to leave about an inch around the edge free of sauce.
- Spread out evenly the mushrooms, onions and pepper. Using a teaspoon place blobs of pesto around the pizza and spread out a little- the pizza will not be covered in pesto. You will occasionally get that burst of basil goodness. Do the same with the ricotta.
- On top sprinkle the mozzarella until it is covered. Then using oven gloves take the baking tray out of the oven and slide the pizza onto the baking tray. Bake for about 5-8 minutes (depending on the temperature of the oven).