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Adventures in making pizza

by on November 1, 2009
 

I always say that the art of being a good mother is knowing when to buy a pizza….rather than make!

Vegetable pizza

See that holiday to Rome in February made a huge impression on me, on us and on my desire to make pizza. As soon as we returned, determined to be Mama par excellence, I set about making it. Disaster. Struck. Testimony that  making some things yourself is not the way to go.

Pizza ingredients PaprikasRoasted vegetables Mozarella

Reasons for failure? Numerous. First come home from work when the kids are hungry. Then make a dough from granary flour, let it rise and then roll it out, don’t worry about thick or thin crust. Ladle it with toppings and bake. Look in shock when the pizza exits the oven. Explain to 3 hungry children, a not-so hungry husband and a disappointed Mama herself that dinner will be ehmmm…..fairly late. I mean who wants 3-inch seeded wholemeal crust with tasty toppings? Not to mention lope-sided. No one I think.

The final step: mentally give up on ever making pizza at home! Comfort yourself that this is not a test of motherhood and live…….It’s spring. Let your hair down. Lay that ghost to sleep. Don’t attempt pizza…just yet.

Till Autumn. Enter E….my friend and teacher, from Lemon curd  to pizza. E makes a recipe from one of her books and even though I have a pizza book….I’ve not been courageous enough. Till now. I am determined to learn and I can say straight up….I enjoyed the pizza….at least from an inspiring aspect and in taste!

Pizza book

The recipe we made is from a book  called Pane e Panini by Ursula Ferrigno.
For two thin 26 cm pizza bases, you will need:
 
150 g Semolina flour
100 g Plain flour
20 g baker’s yeast mixed with 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water
150 ml water

How to make pizza base

Mix the semolina and flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle.

Mix the yeast with the 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water and stir till it is dissolved.

Baker's yeast

Pour this into the well in the flour mixture and slowly knead, then add the 150ml of water and mix  together, kneading for 10 minutes till the dough is smooth and supple. If the dough is a bit sticky, add some flour, a little at a time till the dough comes away from your fingers. 

Make the dough into a all and place in a bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp tea cloth and let it rise for 4 – 6 hours

Flour in bowl Baker's yeast Dissolved yeast in waterYeast in flour First steps to dough First steps to doughSticky dough Sticky dough Pizza dough...readyPizza dough...ready Pizza dough...ready Pizza dough....rising

While the dough is rising, make your tomato sauce…anyhow you like. Some like it hot, some like it bottled, some like it in the pan….2 days old. E made hers with a mix of fresh and bottled tomatoes, chopped onions and garlic, sage, oregano and chopped chilli.

Tomatoes

It stewed till it was a thick mass and then she let it cool. Now that I’m an advancing pizza student, I would suggest using passata made from oven-roasted tomatoes…purely for its exceptional taste.

Add bottled passata Add sage leavesAdd oregano Tomato sauce cooking

The next planet to conquer – veggies. Boy, the beauty of pizza, the very free-form nature of it. You can put anything you like on it and still enjoy it. Mushrooms

Mushrooms

….Paprika, Courgettes…they all have their place

Courgettes

Prepping them is no mean feat….slice and dice.

Sliced courgettes and mozzarella

Grill and roast.

Courgette slices in grill pan Pan grilled courgettesRoasted red and yello peppers Grilled peppers

And lay aside….in readiness for the grand layering. Coming soon.

Pizza toppings to go

That dough should be welll risen after your 4-6 hours of rest….. Slowly mix again

Risen pizza dough

and then divide it into 2 balls.

E loves thin-crust pizza so she does it step by step. She takes one ball and rolls it out.  Step 2 – she places it in the pizza pan (and ehmmm in the tart tin because I only had 1 pan). Then she starts stretching the dough, pushing from the centre out. This is not come-go….but stay and work through till the dough is well stretched and fits the pan. Repeat for the second ball.

Pizza dough Rolling out pizza doughStretching out pizza dough Stretching out pizza doughStretching out pizza dough Stretching out pizza dough

Place a damp teatowel over the pizzas and let rest for 30 minutes. When the half hour is up, pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade (400 degrees fahrenheit) and get ready for the finale.

Pizza base and tomato sauce

Put some tomato sauce on the pizza base….E drowned ours in sauce. Then the layering began – Mozarella, peppers,..

Tomato sauce on pizza Tomato sauce on pizzaMozarella slices on pizza Grilled vegetables on pizzaGrilled vegetables on pizza

….mushrooms, courgettes.

Veggie pizza Grilled courgettes on pizza

When your layering is up, season well and place in the middle of the oven. Bake for at least 30 minutes or to till the cheese is melted and the base is cooked.

Vegetable pizza

This time….the kids eat. With joy. In my heart, my image is redeemed. Thank you Lord for letting me know that no mother is judged by the food she cooks.  

I enjoyed the pizza though I felt there was a lot of tomato sauce and the base was a bit soft. Served with some homemade pesto however…..my confidence is fully restored. And because I have so longed to make grill pan pizzas, breakfast the next morning was leftover pizza placed in a heated grill pan and then warmed under the oven grill. Yum, yum, yum.

Grill pan, heating Grill pan veggie pizzaGrill pan veggie pizza Pesto

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