Pizza

R has loved making pizza ever since we did this at an Italian friend's house earlier in the year and we now make them at least once a week. See below for some pics of R in master pizza maker mode. Our most common pizza uses tinned passata or chopped tomatoes, chopped up mozzarella and oregano. In terms of sneaking veg in, the best we usually manage is the tomato sauce (ok, ok, I know tomato is actually a fruit) although you can be as varied as you like. My hidden vegetable sauce works well in place of tomato sauce or you can add some chopped peppers, aubergines, courgettes, sweetcorn or whatever else takes your fancy. In my house these get picked off and discarded of course.

I've included below the pizza dough recipe I use. It's from the River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook. You can use your own recipe or indeed use shop bought pizza bases if you prefer.

Pizza dough recipe

Ingredients
500g strong white bread flour
250g strong wholemeal bread flour or unrefined spelt flour (I never seem to have any wholemeal so I use extra white bread flour)
250g plain white flour
2 tsp easy blend yeast
2 tsp sugar
10g (1.5 level tsp) fine sea salt
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil

This quantity of dough will make four pizzas – or a loaf of bread and two pizzas. I haven't tried halving it but there's no reason why this wouldn't work. Alternatively you could freeze some of it – do this after it’s risen and you’ve knocked it back (see below). Cut it into the appropriate size eg a quarter for one pizza, then immediately dust with flour, wrap in clingfilm and freeze. Defrost it when you need it again, give it a little knead and allow it to rise again before baking.

Put the flours, yeast, sugar and salt into a large bowl and combine thoroughly. Make a well in the centre and add the oil, then pour in 625ml warm water. Mix to a rough dough in the bowl. You may feel you need more water as different flours vary a lot in absorbency. You’re aiming for a dough that feels quite sticky and squidgy when you squash it between your fingers.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 5-10 minutes. Hold one end of the dough down with one hand, then stretch the rest away from you along the worktop with the other. Fold the dough back on itself, and repeat, turning the dough 90º every few stretches. Kneading should be a fairly gentle, rhythmic process that folds air into the dough and stretches the gluten within it, rather than a vigorous pummelling!

When the dough feels smooth, form it into a ball.  Put a little oil into a large, clean bowl, add the sough and turn it so it’s covered in a light film of oil. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a fairly warm, draught-free place until doubled in size. This will take at least an hour or maybe longer depending on how warm your kitchen is.

Scoop the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Use your fingers to ‘knock it back’ or deflate it. Use one quarter of the dough to make one pizza – see above for freezing, or alternatively make it into a loaf of bread by shaping it how you wish and allowing it to rise again.

Leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes then roll it out onto a floured surface until no more than 5mm thick. Transfer to a greased baking sheet (it might shrink back a bit when you transfer it, so give it a bit more rolling, pushing and stretching when on the baking sheet). Add your chosen toppings and bake at your oven's maximum temperature for 10-12 minutes.