Of all the meals I make my family, home-made pizza night is their favourite. I have got it down to quite fine art. The most important thing is to give your pizza dough a good hour to prove and make sure your oven is hot enough. Turn it up full heat and place a baking tray or pizza stone inside to get hot to transfer the pizza straight onto. I barbeque with a pizza stone is great as it can get much hotter than a conventional oven. You will also need a baking sheet or a pizza peel to transfer your pizza directly onto the hot tray or stone in the oven. Other than that, it is simple. All you have left to do is come up with your favourite toppings. Here’s a start. A classic Pizza Fiorentina. A fabulous way of using up the spinach in your veg box.
You can make up the pizza dough and once it have proved, knock it back and freeze it in individual portions. Take them out the freezer a couple of hours before you need them. Personally I make the whole dough, and need it in the magimix, but here is the proper method.
500g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 x 7 g dried yeast sachet
1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
325 ml lukewarm water
Sieve the flour and salt on to a clean work surface and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.
Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or an oiled piece of clingfilmand place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
Now remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead it around a bit to push the air out with your hands – this is called knocking back the dough. You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in clingfilm, in the fridge (or freezer) until required. If using straight away, divide the dough up into as many little balls as you want to make pizzas – this amount of dough is enough to make about three or four medium pizzas.
300g bag of baby spinach
Mozarella (the cheap blocks actually make better pizza, If you want to use better quality bufala mozzarella then make sure you let it drain well before using, otherwise your pizza will be too wet) Cut into small cubes. Never use ready grated mozzarella.
Passata (I use Pizza Express but any good quality passata will do)
Garlic oil (made by whizzing up some peeled garlic cloves and some extra virgin olive oil with a hand blender)
Organic Free-range eggs
Freshly grated parmesan
Pre-heat your oven as hot as it will go and add a baking sheet or a pizza stone. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the spinach and a good pinch of salt. Cover and cook until just wilted. Stir well and remove to a colander. Gently squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible.
Roll out your dough, as thin as it will go. Dust another completely flat baking sheet or peel with flour and put your pizza base straight on it. You need to work quite quickly now so that your base does not have time to stick. Spread passata on the base. Next scatter with spinach, then drizzle with garlic oil. Scatter on mozzarella, sprinkle over the parmesan and season lightly with sea salt and black pepper.
Transfer your pizza quickly to the tray in the oven. There is a knack to this. Your first one may not be beautiful but you will get better each time. Try not to leave the oven door open too long or you will lose all your precious heat. Crack on your eggs and add your olives and cook until done to your liking. Slide onto a board and serve.