Fridee Night (as we like to call it around here), is now officially known as Pizza Night in our house (much to our children's delight). It's a real crowd pleaser, so that's less stress for me. Add a glass of wine and...aaahh.
We started off this tradition with buying a pizza base and adding our bits from there, but then Hubby eventually decided to try making dough from scratch, and then bought a pizza oven (which, to be honest, at the time I thought one of those silly appliances - you know, like a fairy floss maker - that we just wouldn't use). However, I quickly became a fan, and then one day, I attempted the dough myself, and now I just couldn't go back to pre-purchased dough. Besides, it's actually quicker than lugging 3 boys out for a trip down to the shops to buy it, then lugging them back again! Seriously, it takes less than 10 minutes.
Here's the recipe (this will please my sister. I meant to email it AGES ago):
2 1/2 to 3 cups plain flour
1 x 7gm packet yeast (can buy in a packet of 6-12 from memory)
1 cup warm water
2 tblespns olive oil
1/2 tspn salt
Ok, so first you get a big bowl, sift 1 1/2 cups of the plain flour in to it, and add the yeast. Stir it around a bit. Then add the warm water. Mix, using a wooden spoon.
It'll go really gooey. Perfect. Then add the oil and salt, and gradually add the remaining flour. But WAIT - just keep adding until the dough is no longer sticky. You may not need all of the remaining flour. Because I've done it many times by now, I usually stir about 1 cup in, then empty it on to a bench (throw some flour on the bench too) and kneed it, adding in the last 1/2 cup as I need it. Once it has elasticised and no longer sticky, kneed it for about 5 minutes, or until it's nice and smooth. (If you've had a bad day, this can be a great way to relieve any tension.) I also suggest sipping wine through this process. Why not?
Then lightly oil a bowl (I use an olive oil spray for that), mould the dough in to a smooth ball and place inside. Cover with a tea towel and put aside for 1 hour until the dough rises. (This is usually when more wine is consumed, and the kids' bath time is carried out. Makes the whole process just that little bit easier...)
Roll it out with your hands in a kind of sausage roll, and cut in to 3 even sections (that's if you want 3 pizzas with fairly thin bases). Reduce the sections if you want thicker bases. Put back in the bowl with the tea towel over it and let it rest for another 10 minutes. (Although, to be honest, I'm too impatient for this part, so I usually just roll it out straight away. It still comes out ok!)
Then take your ball of dough and roll it out on a floured surface until you get the size and shape you want. Before you put your sauce on, prick the dough with a fork all over (this stops big bubbles forming in the dough). Add your sauce, maybe some herbs, cheese and then toppings (ham, pineapple, mushroom...whatever)! Pop it in a very hot oven (make sure you've preheated it) and keep an eye on it. It's cooked when the cheese is melted and the base is crusty. Yum.
A few extra tips:
1. We used to use a Legos type pizza sauce, but I find using just some Passata is yummier. No need to heat it up or anything, straight on is fine. If you have a tin of tomatoes, that's fine too. But I would heat it a little and add some herbs.
2. Before you put the sauce on, put some granules of garlic on if you like. Tasty.
3. We buy Pizza Plus cheese, because it's a mixture of both mozzarella and parmesan. The parmesan adds to the flavour.
4. Once we've rolled out the dough in to our pizza base shape, we place it on some baking paper before "decorating" it. That way, you can lift it in to the pizza oven, or on to your baking tray, and it doesn't get stuck or anything. We then usually lift it out, cut the pizza up and place it, baking paper and all, on to a large dinner plate ready to serve.
5. The kids like "helping" with this one. (Note: "helping" is in inverted commas.)