30th January 2010
Georgina Likes Pizza
We followed the instructions for basic pizza dough in Susan Conte's pleasant little Pizza And Pasta book, dividing the dough into two balls to allow to rise.

We rolled out the pizzas using a rolling pin, but many sources suggest some kind of stretching process using your fists. Georgina gave something like that a try, but resorted to rolling after picking the bits up off the (fortunately recently-cleaned) floor. Maybe next time we could try a bit harder - here's a description from an interesting page claiming to offer the Best Pizza Dough Ever from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice:

Place the dough balls on top of the floured counter and sprinkle them with flour; dust your hands with flour. Gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Dip your hands, including the backs of your hands and knuckles, in flour and lift 1 piece of dough by getting under it with a pastry scraper. Very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion on your hands, carefully giving it a little stretch with each bounce. If it begins to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue shaping it. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss as shown on page 208 This must be some illustration! If you have trouble tossing the dough, or if the dough keeps springing back, let it rest for 5 to 20 minutes so the gluten can relax, and try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, though this isn't as effective as the toss method.

Perhaps we didn't quite allow the balls to double in size, and we certainly didn't bother leaving the rolled-out pizzas to rise for 20 minutes before adding the topping and cooking them, but then the girlies were already STARVING, so we were pressed for time.

As a result, the crusts were probably a bit heavier than they ought to have been. It might have been nice to add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the water too.

The girls experimented tentatively with rolling the edges around some edam cheese to make a stuffed crust, but I think that has to go into the category of "Needs Further Investigation". Maybe it just needs a more robust cheese?
Breaking News...
After considerable persuading (don't ask!), Rachel gave the crust-stuffing a bit more enthusiasm (despite the conditions she had to work in) and made a series of cuts around the pizza so she could roll the whole edge in around sticks of Emmentaler (whose holes really impressed Sophie).
Although it seemed like a good idea, the result was just an especially dense and hard ball of crust at the pizza edge. I think we would need to make larger, looser rolls and try to avoid pressing the pastry too much during the process.
Due to the permanent uncertainty of what the girlies might deem acceptable food I brought three different sliced meats - chorizo, pepperoni and pancetta. Despite having requested pepperoni, this was judged to be too hot and the pancetta to be too fatty. Fortunately the chorizo was approved by everyone - so full marks to me for anticipating that difficulty!

It's fun getting everyone to decorate their section of pizza, but it can easily result in fights if you can't figure out who's portion is whose once the pizza is baked. Black olives are very useful for marking the edges if you can make sure all the kiddies bits are squeezed in-between the grown-ups.

And it's not everywhere you can get away with that!

Stuffing The Crust Stuffed Crust Stuffed Crust Close Up Tomato Sauce Pizza Decorated. Pizza In The Oven Pizza Cooked
(In case you were wondering - Rachel is having a stately pleasure dome extension built on to her kitchen, so cooking conditions somewhat resemble those at the Somme)

A BIG Georgina seal of approval
Pepperoni Pizza
main meat
Feeds 3 hungry girls - and me

1 portion pizza dough
1 onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
Tablespoon tomato purée
fresh or dried oregano or thyme. Or other dried herbs
olive oil
2 small cartons of passata or a tin of tomatoes
fresh Mozzarella, in ½" slices
sliced Pepperoni/Pancetta/Chorizo
black olives, sliced
Make your pizza dough and leave it to rise for an hour or until it doubles in size (if you have the patience).

Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce - gently fry the onion and garlic in plenty of olive oil until they are soft and translucent. Don't brown them.
Add the herbs once the onions have got going.
Add the tomato purée and fry until the oil begins to separate out (if no girlies are looking you can toss in a glass of white wine and reduce it too), then add the passata or tinned tomatoes and simmer until thickened to your taste.
I used only 1 carton of passata, but that made barely enough sauce for the two pizzas.
Also my sauce was a little bit over-sweet so I did add a splash of balsamic vinegar to tarten it up slightly.

Get your oven as hot as it will go (250°C/Gas 9in our case) and put in your pizza stone(s) to preheat.

Roll out (or spin out if you're brave) your pizza bases onto large floured plates or boards and leave to rise for 15-20 minutes if you are allowed. Spread them not too thickly with the tomato sauce, decorate with your choice of meat product and top with slices of mozzarella, and olives (anchovies etc.) if you're a grown-up.
You really don't want to spread the tomato paste too thickly here - as thinly as you can manage but still cover the surface is about right. Also the mozzarella spreads a lot when it melts, so cut the mozzarella as thin as you can manage - about the thickness of a pound coin.

This was really nice with some shredded chicken scattered on too, by the way. I just boiled up a chicken in water for an hour with a quartered onion, some bay leaves and peppercorns, (though you could obviously add any extra herbs and vegetables you have lying around because you'll be using the stock later won't you?) then separated off the flesh and shredded it with a fork.

Carefully slide the pizzas off the boards onto the hot pizza stone(s). I found a couple of fish slices came in really handy at this stage.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the crust browns and the toppings begin to bubble.

Slice, serve to all the wrong people and wait for the territorial battles to begin.

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