This is the Great Italian Chefs’ pizza dough recipe although I changed the preparation to show you how to create 4 generously-sized individual pizzas with your choice of toppings.
I made this recently with children aged 5 to 12 and they loved participating in every step, kneading dough, smelling herbs, and deciding on their own toppings/presentation.
Makes: 4 individual pizzas
- 7g sachet of dried yeast
- 25g olive oil
- 1 tsp white caster sugar
- 250ml warm water
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus additional for kneading and proving
- 1 tsp salt
- 250g passata
- 2 tsp tomato purée (paste) – one good squeeze from a tube will do
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
- 1/2 tsp ground black (or rainbow) pepper (or more, to taste)
- Fresh basil leaves to taste (3 large, or more), finely torn/chopped
- Scattering of semolina (optional), for proving/rolling/stretching
- Toppings (see footnotes) and optional side salad ingredients (see Step 7)
- 2 mixing bowls: 1 small, 1 large
- Wooden spoon
- Tea towel, wet under very hot water and wrung dry
- 2 baking trays
- Baking/parchment paper to line trays if necessary
- A small, heavy-bottomed saucepan
- A chopping board and sharp knife
- Rolling pin
- Cooling rack
- Put the yeast, oil, sugar, and water in a small bowl, and mix well until fully combined.
- Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.
- Add the liquid to the dry, and mix with a wooden spoon until it’s almost come together. Stick your hands in, and manually mix until you can bring it all together into a ball.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured worksurface. Knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough is smooth and ‘springy’ (lightly punch with a finger; it should spring back quite quickly).
- Wash and dry your large bowl (or use another); lightly flour it – or scatter with semolina – and put the dough in. Cover with a dampened tea towel (wet it under very hot water, and wring it out thoroughly). Leave in a warm, draught-free place to prove until doubled in size, about an hour or so.
- Whilst the dough is proving, make the tomato sauce. Put the passata, tomato purée, oregano, salt, and pepper into a small saucepan over a medium heat. Bring up to ‘bubbling’, then reduce the heat to low and leave for 5 minutes. Taste, and add more oregano / salt / pepper to your liking. Simmer for 5 more minutes, then remove from the heat. Add the torn/chopped basil, taste, and add more if you like. Stir and set aside.
- Gather all topping ingredients (see footnotes), and chop/slice as necessary. Leave on plates / in bowls / on the chopping board.
This is a good time to make a salad to accompany – lettuce/spinach plus any topping ingredients that entice, with a simple oil+vinegar dressing. Put salad into the fridge until ready to serve.
- Preheat your oven to maximum, 250 C (230 C fan-assisted) if possible and put the trays in to heat. (The trays should be lined with baking paper only if necessary due to age/scrappy surfaces.)
- Cut the risen dough into quarters and pull each portion out onto a floured (or semolina’d) worksurface. You can pull/stretch each portion out just using your fingers and knuckles; or, use a rolling pin until the dough is 1/4″ thin. Create a ‘lip’ around the edge of each portion, whether it’s a circle, square, rectangle, or other shape.
- Spread a generous amount of tomato sauce on the base of each pizza. Sprinkle / place the rest of the toppings over. If you like, the pizza can be folded over and the edge crimped, to create a calzone.
- Carefully move each pizza/calzone onto the heated trays, 2 on each tray.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes (turn the trays halfway through for even baking), until the crust edges are browned and the raw toppings are cooked. Calzones will take 2-5 minutes’ more baking.
- Remove from the oven to plates, and serve immediately, with remaining additional toppings (see footnote) and a serving of salad on the side. Any remaining tomato sauce can be used for dipping the crusts.
Whatever you want, in whatever quantities, is all up to the diner. Here are some suggestions, but add whatever you (and your children) want to eat.
– Black olives (whole or sliced)
– Mozzarella cheese (2 x 220g packets for 4 cheese-loving kids and adults)
– Fresh basil leaves
– Pepperoni discs
– Baby spinach leaves
– Fresh vine tomatoes, thinly sliced
– Fresh cherry tomatoes (red and/or yellow), halved
– Bell pepper (capiscum); red, orange, yellow, green as per your liking, slivered
– Chorizo discs
– Sliced courgette (zucchini)
– Sliced or spaded mushrooms
– Sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and slivered
Place on cooked pizzas when out of the oven as to your taste:
– Hard-boiled eggs, quartered
– Tinned tuna, in chunks
– Sliced thin (cooked) sausages
– Additional mozzarella cheese
– Additional fresh basil leaves