Monday 23 June 2014

The Fantastico World of Homemade Pizza

Follow these simple instructions and you’ll never eat another frozen pizza again.

Pizzas are like sandwiches or résumés, you can put absolutely anything you want on them. I’m not going to stifle your creativity by telling you what should go on your pizza, I’ll just make some suggestions and you can take it from there.

Ah shaddapa you face!

    Fry minced onion and garlic in a little olive oil. Add oregano, paprika, salt and pepper. Throw in a can of chopped tomatoes, simmer until thickened. Pre-heat the oven to volcano.

    Roll out a lump of dough into a thin circle. Transfer to a hot pizza stone (or any old baking tray). Spoon some sauce onto the base, along with crushed coriander seeds and basil. Top with whatever you fancy. Cook in the oven until it looks good (maybe 8 minutes).

Make me a recipe I can’t refuse. And can actually follow.

Yes, always Godfather.


  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes or jar of passata
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • bread dough
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • Salami, Mozzarella, Sweetcorn, Mushrooms, Pesto, Courgette, Spinach, Bacon, Raw Egg, Cooked Chicken, Anchovies, Feta, Sausage, Tomato, Chilli, Olives, Broccoli, Artichoke, Prawn, Avocado, Fig, Red Onion, Peppers, Parma Ham, … Absolutely anything you’d like for the toppings.

    First off, make sure you have bread dough. If you don’t, go make some. I’ll wait. You’ll need to let it prove for at least that first half hour.

    Now, while that’s happening, make the sauce. Finely chop up the onion and garlic. Heat up a bit of olive oil in a saucepan and start frying the onion. After a minute or two, add the garlic. If you add the garlic first, there’s a good chance you’ll burn it before the onions are done, so this is the best way to do it. Once everything in the pan is nicely soft and golden, throw in the oregano and paprika along with a little salt and pepper, and fry for one more minute. Lastly, empty in the chopped tomatoes or passata and simmer, stirring until the sauce thickens enough to not be runny. You don’t want it to make your pizza base soggy.

Hold up, I thought this was supposed to be super simple? First you’ve got me making dough, now you’ve got me simmering sauce for 15 minutes! What gives?

You got me. I was actually being sneaky and trying to trick you into preparing a week’s worth of pizza. Making the sauce this way will give you enough for maybe three or four pizzas. Or you can double it and make even more. It keeps, so don’t worry if you don’t use it all. The dough keeps well too (up to maybe a week). If I’ve converted you, you may already be experimenting at making your own bread and have some dough in the fridge anyway.

An alternative, however, is to not bother cooking a sauce at all. Simply squeezing out about half a tube of tomato paste and mixing the herbs into that before spreading it on the pizza is a speedy (yet still damn tasty) substitute. In fact, I use this short-cut more often than the sauce.

    So whichever method you choose, it’s time to roll out the dough. But first, turn your oven on full-whack. Pizza cooks best at a really high temperature, so the hotter the better. If you have a pizza stone, make sure you put it in the oven now, to heat it up. Right, back to the dough. The size of the dough ball you’ll need is entirely dependant on the size of the pizza and the thickness of the base you want. I like a thin base, mostly because it’s faster to cook and at this point I just really want me some pizza, but also because I like my pizza to be more topping than base. My best advice would be simply to give it a go and see what happens. If your first pizza turns out too small, or too big, just adjust for the next time. Remember though, it needs to fit on whatever tray you’re using.

    I usually take a chunk that fits nicely between my cupped hands and roll it out super thin to make about a 30cm disk. That’s 12 inches, in case any Americans are wondering about the size of my… well my pizza. Which I think is average. I mean, I’ve never been told otherwise, so. Let’s start rolling the base, yeah?

    Throw a little flour onto your work surface and dust your rolling pin with it too. Roll out your dough, turning it to try to keep it vaguely circular. Flip the dough over regularly, making sure it doesn’t stick to the table by sprinkling more flour on it if needed. Once you’re happy with its size and thickness (don’t be too judgemental if you’re not), get out the pizza stone or whatever baking tray you have and lay the base on it. If you’ve gone for a thick base, put it in the oven to blind bake it for a few minutes. Blind baking is when you cook, or partly cook, pastry or dough without anything on it, as a way of making sure it’s fully cooked later. (If the dough rises when you do this, which it may, carefully deflate it, using a folded tea towel or a frying pan or something. I say carefully, because it’s full of dangerously hot steam, just waiting to jump out and scald you.)

    Now all that’s left to do is spoon on your prepared sauce, or squeeze on your tomato paste. Crush your coriander seeds, tear up your basil and sprinkle them both over the sauce. Lastly, put on whatever selection of topping’s you’ve chosen, in whatever order you like (with the things you want crispy up top), throw the whole thing in the oven and cook until it looks right to you. It usually only takes about 8 minutes, but it’ll vary depending on oven temp and moisture of your toppings. Remove, slice and devour. Prego!

(Once you have all of your bits and pieces prepped, you can bang out a pizza or four in no time at all. The dough is the biggest hassle, but if you’re making something else that needs dough, this is a great way to use up the leftovers.

If you want to make a calzone, just fold the pizza in half before putting it in the oven! Much easier to transport if you want pizza on the go. Ooh, and if you like a fiery kick to your pizza, scatter some chilli flakes onto the sauce before adding the toppings.)


  1. hello there,
    I found your food blog through a comment on Feeding Hannibal. Your presentation of that dish was very nice (but your blog title really drew me in :P)
    I gave a try to your pizza recipe and ,although it must be awesome, my try really didn't make it justice. It was my first attempt in making pizza (to my defence). Unfortunately I couldn't make a thin base (it was my intention, though) and probably in the end overbaked it, hence it was stiff and hard. The oven should be hotter I think and maybe the pan not the best choice-it took some time to be heat.
    I don't think I messed up your dough recipe in some other way (the dough was kneaded accordingly, rose happily, beaten cruelly)- mmm probably put more water than needed since it was sticky till the sorry end but ..could be not.
    I have to say that I loved the sauce. Very delicious!!
    thank you for the recipe, the meatball one you recently posted seems very tasty, too.

  2. Hey Sparrow-chan! Thanks for dropping by my blog! Always good to meet another Hannibal fan :)

    Sorry to hear your pizza didn't work out :( But I think you understand everything that went wrong. If the dough is too sticky, it can be very hard to make a thin base. Sticky dough will rip apart, because it sticks to the rolling pin or the table. So don't be afraid to sprinkle on lots of flour, to stop it from sticking!

    The other important thing is the hot oven. It needs to be very, very hot. Then the pizza will get a little crispy, without becoming stiff and hard.

    Lastly, don't be afraid to check the pizza while it's cooking. Pizza cooks very quickly, so it's important to make sure it doesn't burn. If you take the pizza out of the oven too early, you can always put it back in. But if you take it out of the oven too late... You can't fix it :'(

    Anyway, the best thing to do is practice! You'll master pizza soon. Ganbatte, ne!