Pizza. Pizza. Pizza. It’s so hard to find good pizza these days. Everyone has a different idea of what good pizza is, I know. But, I struggle in Hong Kong to find good pizza. Some don’t put enough cheese, others are too oily, others don’t have toppings that I like, or have crust that is too thin, too thick, too chewy, to crisp. You get my point.
I have a friend who is fairly pizza-obsessed, even more so now that she’s pregnant. I was chatting to her over the typhoon days off that we had, and she suggested I make pizza. I didn’t have cheese in the house, so opted not to make it that day. But, I did make it over the weekend instead.
The beauty of making your own pizza is that you are in control of what goes in and on it. You can use as much or as little sauce as you desire, whatever toppings you dream of. Nothing it off limits when you make your own pizza. Except bananas. I have issues with anyone who thinks that bananas are okay on a pizza. It’s a thing in Sweden apparently, and I am not comfortable with it. Anything else though, I mean… have at it.
The dough is not hard to make, and it doesn’t take long… you can have 2 pizzas ready to eat within and hour and 15 minutes if your oven is big enough for 2 pizzas at a time. Mine is not. So I made one for dinner, and made the second one later then packed it up for lunch at work the next day. Those who ate it at work were very happy that I was feeding them – again. I have to admit though, it was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever tasted. Granted, it was to my taste, but still.
The sauce is so flavourful, and if you go down the route of caramelised onions, it adds a whole other level of flavour.
I know pizza isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and it certainly isn’t a healthy option. Having said that, making your own pizza is a much healthier way to have it rather than ordering it from anywhere. Like I said before, YOU control everything about the pizza. You can choose how healthy or unhealthy to make it.
We used to have a house up in the Rocky Mountains, which my parents would rent out for most of the year, but we would head up during Chinese New Year for a week of skiing, or during the summer for a month of mountain activities, and summer camp. One memory I have of our time at the condo was that we’d almost always do the same thing on our first night in town. It would normally be me, my mum and my sister that would arrive first with my dad arriving a bit later. We’d always need to stop by the liquor store for a bottle of wine before we got to the condo, because the shops would shut stupidly early and they’d always be shut on Sunday (the day after we arrived). Once at the condo, we’d call up the same pizza place and we’d order the same pizzas. I’d order the Lombard Street. A pizza with a barbecue chicken and onions., with a barbecue-style sauce. Oh man. I still remember it like it was yesterday. Weirdly enough, it still exists to this day (I Googled it)!
Anyway, I digress. The point is, that was the last great pizza I really remember having. The one that sticks in my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had nice pizza in my life. New York had some great pizza to offer, but there was always just something missing. Sometimes I think it’s the barbecue sauce. Sometimes I think it’s just a matter of toppings. I don’t know. But, I realised that if I was going to make pizza, I needed it to be MY pizza. For me.
So, here are my recipes for pizza dough and pizza tomato sauce. The toppings in my pictures are: mushrooms, caramelised onions, salami and good old mozzarella cheese (NOT pre-grated).
5 cups plain flour
1 sachet fast action yeast*
2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- In a large mixing bowl, add the warm water and the yeast. *If you’re using fast action yeast, you don’t need to activate the yeast, so you can jump to step 2 now. If you’re using dried active yeast then you need to let the yeast sit for 5 minutes until it starts to froth on the top.
- Add half of the flour to the yeast and water mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix together. Once all combined, add the rest of the flour, and keep mixing with the wooden spoon. Once it starts to come together, scrape the dough off the spoon and get yours hands in. Knead the dough until it’s smooth. Cover with a tea towel, and set aside in a warm room/corner while you work on your sauce.
- In a saucepan, over a low heat, add the olive oil and minced garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant, but not yet golden.
- Add the remaining ingredients (salt and pepper to taste), and mix well. Simmer for 10 minutes to thicken.
- Check your dough. It should have doubled in size (try to leave the dough for 20 – 30 minutes). Pour it out onto a well-floured surface. Add more flour to the dough if it’s still a bit sticky. I did this by simply re-flouring the surface I was kneading it on. Knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough comes into a non-sticky ball. Leave to rest for 5 minutes.
- Divide the dough in half.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C.
- Spray your baking tray with oil. Roll out the dough to the size of the tray (or, as I did, push the dough flat while it’s in the baking tray).
- Take your sauce off the heat, and spread half of the sauce over your flattened pizza dough. Leave about a centimetre round the edge.
- Add your toppings!!!!
- Place the pizza in the oven for 18 – 20 minutes, until the dough is crisp and the cheese has melted.
- Slice up and serve.
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