During the first lockdown, I challenged myself by learning how to cook. For my first meal, I decided a classic Italian dish would be appropriate since I love pizza! It was definitely a big hit with my younger siblings, and we ended up deciding that Wednesdays would be our homemade pizza nights.
On Tuesdays, I would prepare the dough in order to give myself a head start. This required measuring 1kg of strong white bread flour and placing it on a clean surface. Next, I would use a jug and pour 650ml of warm water, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of salt and sugar into it. Finally, I would add a sachet of yeast to the mixture and leave it for 10 minutes. After this, you should be prepared to get your hands messy! You need to make a hole in the middle of the flour and gradually pour the mix in whilst you knead the dough. This should take around 10-15 minutes and then you are going to want to place it in a reasonably sized dish with cling film over the top. I tend to leave it in the fridge overnight to give it time to rise.
At home, I have dinner at 5 pm because my younger siblings are always starving when they come home from school, so I usually start the pizza-making process at 4. The first step is to place some flour on your worktop so you can knead the dough and roll it out. I find it easier to cut the dough so I’m working with a smaller amount. You should be aiming for a circular shape when rolling it out but don’t worry if you can’t get it. My pizzas never usually end up being a circle! Once the base is ready, place it in the oven (gas mark 5) and allow it to turn a golden-brown colour on both sides. After this, bring it back out and get ready to apply the sauce. I use a carton of tomato passata (which you can find in Asda for 40p!) and add a few sprinkles of oregano and basil, just to give it a bit more flavour. Feel free to add in as much or as little of these herbs as you want. Once the sauce is ready, add some to the centre of the base and then you can start spreading the sauce out evenly.
On my first attempt, I didn’t leave much of a crust so I would definitely recommend leaving a few centimetres when applying the sauce because the crust is the best part! Next, add a combination of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Once your pizza is ready, put it in the grill for a few minutes so the cheese can melt, and the crusts can go crispy. Make sure you keep an eye on it because from my experience, it’s very easy to forget and let it burn! I am very basic when it comes to pizza so my first choice will always be a margherita pizza. However, for those of you who enjoy something a bit more complex, I’d recommend adding a few chilli flakes to the sauce because this gives it a kick. Similarly, this meal can be made even healthier by including peppers and mushrooms as toppings. I really do encourage you to give this recipe a try over summer and to be creative with it because it is delicious!
Author: Laila Kaid