The classic Pizza Margherita has become possibly the best known flatbread and a staple of fast food in western dining.
Combine crispy, slightly chewy, firm pizza crust with moreish tomato sauce and delicious melted mozzarella – bliss. You like pizza, your partner like pizza, your parents like pizza, your children like pizza … I can guarantee you that someone in your life loves a well made pizza. Now is your chance to impress.
I remember pizza parties when I was young. It was a common treat to be able to decorate your pizza with toppings of your choice (making faces out of them with little olives for eyes and tomatoes for blushing cheeks), then baking and eating them gathered around for a film. Now, on reflection, I can’t help thinking it would be been a lot more fun to make our own pizza dough as well – the store bought pizza bases just do not taste the same. And it’s a lot of fun to make your own pizza dough … satisfying, rewarding, surprisingly easy – you most probably already have the ingredients in your pantry.
If you would like a gluten-free version of pizza, one of my other recipes might be to your taste: polenta, asparagus tip, parsley & chilli pizza, with a crust made from polenta. Alternatively, if you love classic pizza dough but the mention of polenta is making your mouth water even more, consider serving up my delicious polenta chips as a side: chunky polenta fries with viola salad.
Classic Pizza Margherita
Comfort food that has stood the test of time. An easy recipe for a tantalising dinner.
- 350g Plain flour
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp Active dry yeast
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 cup Water
- Olive Oil
- 5 Garlic cloves
- 2tsp Dried basil
- 100g Passata sauce
- 2 Tomatos
- Salt and Pepper
- Mozzarella (If vegan, you can leave this off for an equally delicious pizza)
- Tomato sauce (ingredients above)
- 3 Cherry tomatos (or to your choice)
- Fresh basil
- Pour one cup of heated warm water into a mixing bowl and add dry yeast. Let it rest until the yeast is completely dissolved into the water.
- Add your flour and mix using a large wooden spoon, now add salt.
- Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands for about 5 minutes, and then stretch and roll the pizza dough to your desired shape and thickness (this recipe suits about 10″ pizza), if planning to use straight away. Stretched pizza dough achieves a crust; rolled pizza dough will be flat. If you have some time, leave the dough in the fridge to rise for 30mins before using.
- Alternatively, you can leave the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm, and leave it rise overnight, or wrap it in clingfilm and place in the fridge to use over the next couple of days.
- Heat a dash of olive oil in a small saucepan and add finely chopped garlic cloves, cooking on low heat until just lightly browned.
- Now for the chopped tomatoes – gently stir, cooking until they are releasing their juices.
- Pour pasatta into the pan until integrated with the garlic mixture.
- You can puree or sieve your tomato sauce if you don’t like bits. Skip this step if it doesn’t bother you.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, then adding dried basil.
- Preheat your oven to it’s highest setting, with your baking tray inside. If you have a pizza stone, you know how to use it – I only have baking trays. The reason we pre-heat the baking tray as well as to cook the bottom of the pizza.
- When the oven is ready, carefully remove the hot baking tray with oven mitts. Cut a piece of parchment paper to use for the tray.
- Carefully transfer your stretched/rolled pizza dough to the baking tray to add toppings.
- Gently brush the dough with olive oil, using your fingers.
- Dollop the tomato sauce into the middle of the pizza and spread evenly using the back of a spoon. Keep a few inches around the edge of the pizza free of tomato sauce.
- Add toppings. If you are adding basil, add it either in the last few minutes of cooking or at the table (it will wilt with the residential heat), not with the other pizza toppings.. I used a few more halved tomatoes, mozzarella cut into slices, and a little grating of cheddar cheese for a classic Margherita pizza. You can use toppings of your choice, but it is usually a good formula to use a sauce and two toppings for ease of cooking.
- Cook for about 5-15 minutes, depending on your oven. This really varies, so make sure you are checking on the pizza regularly.