Gloom descends on our house today….my feet don’t feel like surfacing from inside the blanket and touching the floor….. India lost to Pakistan in the finals of Champions’ Trophy yesterday. India vs Pakistan in cricket is always crazy intense and this time, we have lost to our neighbors after enjoying a glorious winning streak of decade or two over them… *moan*
Anyway, the opposing side played SPLENDIDLY and sure deserved to take away the cup. Still, it will take a couple of days for my wound to heal..SIGHHH!!!!!!
Game days always call for getting ready a humongous stock of your comfort foods to munch on. Popcorn, crisps, sodas, sandwiches, nachos and who can forget….PIZZAAAAA!!
We are huge Domino’s fans and have always found that no other pizza matches upto the Dominos’s standards. The fabulous deals and more than that, the taste…it’s so good! So, I hardly find the need make pizza at home. This time though, I was itching to do some bread-baking and making pizza dough from scratch had been on my mind for some time now. I had done it once before in the past but not recently. The big match presented the perfect opportunity for me to make a pizza of my own, to add to our pile of munchies to enjoy during the game as well as scratch my itch to bake.
The entire process was really fun. The yeast part went well and the dough rose beautifully after fermenting for two hours. My flavorful tomato and basil sauce was deliciously simmering away at the stove and toppings were diced and perched on the chopping board. The only part where I struggled in the pizza making was flattening and stretching the dough with my fingers to form a pizza base. I had read on the internet that the dough should be stretched and not rolled with a rolling-pin to get the best results, but I tried and tried and tried……….. just couldn’t do it. So, in the end, I had to take help of my rolling-pin for preparing the base. Taste-wise there was no problem, only the shape of the pizza was not as perfect as wanted. If you can stretch the dough expertly with your fingers, go for it! If not, then like me, you can use a rolling-pin too.
For the sauce, I strongly recommend using passata but you can use tomato puree too in case passata is unavailable.
The cricket match didn’t have a favorable outcome but my pizza-making sure did. Hubby and I finished it in no time! I made a thin crust as that’s what hubby likes (even Indian flat-breads, he prefers thinly-rolled) but you can make your pizza regular-sized and thicker. If you follow this recipe as it is, there is very little to no scope of anything going wrong. It’s easy, cheesy, fun and very very yummy.
Give it a go folks…(while I spend the day crying into my pillow…sob sob..) and Enjoy!!
For the dough-
– 2 cups plain flour
– ½ cup luke-warm water
– 1 tsp sugar
– 1 tsp dry yeast
– ½ tsp salt
– 3 tbsp olive oil
– 1-2 tbsn water for kneading, if needed
For the sauce-
– 2 red tomatoes
– 4 tbsn passata or 2 tbsn tomato puree
– 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
– Some fresh basil leaves, washed
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 tsp sugar
– 1 tsp dry & mixed Italian herbs
– 1 tbsp tomato sauce
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 1 small onion, thinly sliced
– Some mushrooms, thinly sliced
– ½ Capsicum, roughly chopped
– 1 tin of ready-to-eat sweetcorn kernels
– Some grated mozzarella cheese
– Dry & mixed Italian herbs
– If you are in a cold country like me, then pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees for ten minutes and then switch it off. If not, ignore please. If you are not confident in this step, you can totally skip it even in a cold country. Your dough will still rise.
– Firstly, let us activate the yeast. In a large mixing bowl, take luke-warm water, dry yeast and sugar. Mix well and keep to rest for 10 mins. Remember, water should be strictly lukewarm. Not hot or cold. That will kill the yeast.
-When you see a foamy layer on top of your mixture, that indicates that your yeast has activated well!
– Next, add your flour, salt and oil. Combine it into a soft dough. Add 1-2 tbsn water more, if needed.
– Dust some flour on the kitchen platform and knead your dough very well for 8-9 minutes. Look up ‘stretch-and-pull’ method on the internet. This step is very essential as we need to activate the gluten in the dough. Knead into a smooth ball.
– Grease a deep bowl with oil and place your dough in it. The bowl should be large and deep as the dough will rise and get doubled in size. Coat the dough surface all over with some more oil and cover the top of the bowl tightly in a cling-wrap.
– The oven should be mildly warm and not at all hot. It should most certainly be switched off long before you keep your dough in it. (I am saying this again- skip warming the oven if you are not confident about it!)
– Rest the wrapped bowl of dough in the warm oven for 2 hours, in the middle shelf.
In the meantime, prepare your pizza sauce….
– Firstly, blanch your fresh tomatoes whole, in some boiling water for 6-7 mins or till they get soft. Remove from the pan and let them cool. Remove their peel and discard the water. Chop and Keep aside.
– In a saucepan, heat some olive oil.
– Add the chopped garlic and saute for a few seconds.
– Next, throw in your fresh basil leaves and saute for some more seconds.
– Add the blanched tomatoes. Mix and cook covered for 4-5 minutes on medium-low flame till the tomatoes get mushy and completely dissolved in the mixture.
– Add the passata/puree and mix well. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes more, till you see oil on the top of the mixture.
– Add the tomato sauce, salt, pepper, sugar and Italian seasonings. Taste and adjust according to the personal preference.
– Simmer for few minutes more and then switch off the gas. The pizza sauce is ready. Cool for later use.
Baking the pizza….
– If you want, saute the veggies (except corn) in a little butter and with a pinch of salt and pepper before using in a pizza. I sure did!
– Take the risen flour out of the oven and punch the dough lightly with fist to release down the air.
– Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees and let the empty baking tray stay inside the hot oven. The hot tray helps the pizza to cook from below.
– Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes more on the dusted kitchen platform. Divide into three parts and roll into round balls.
– Place one doughball on a dusted baking paper.
(Each doughball will make a medium sized pizza. You can wrap the remaining doughballs in cling film, store in a freezer-bag and freeze for later use, if you don’t want to make more pizzas on the same day. Pizza dough freezes really well, for upto 2-3 months.)
– With your fingers or with a rolling pin, flatten the dough-ball into a medium-sized pizza crust. See some video tutorials on youtube to get the hang of making a pizza crust. I did!
– Leaving a little space on all sides of the pizza, dollop your cooled pizza sauce generously and spread evenly in a circle.
– Top with your colorful veggie toppings and mozzarella cheese.
– Sprinkle some more salt and pepper with the dry Italian seasonings and put carefully in the oven to bake.
– Bake for 12-15 minutes and keep checking your pizza at regular intervals. The outer crust should be bloated & brown, and your cheese, melted.
– Cut into slices and enjoy!
– If you want to, you can sieve your pizza sauce. I didn’t feel the need to.
– Add your choice of toppings like pine-apple, olives, jalapenos etc.
– Don’t over-load your pizza base with too much sauce or too many toppings. It can turn the whole thing soggy.
– Cooking time may vary according to different types/brands of ovens.