Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Homemade Cheese & Ham Pizza

I can't remember what reminded me about pizza, but walking around the supermarket the other day I realised we hadn't had it for a while and it is usually a big hit with the kids.

The advantage to making your own pizza is not only can you add exactly the toppings you and your family like all on one pizza (note the grouping of olives in the photo as only one of my three kids wanted olives on their pizza), but you can make it nice and thin.  As I was brought up in Italy, a thin based pizza is the only pizza to eat.  But also I think the children find the thin base easier to eat, particulary if moistened by the tomato, cheese, and my new twist - creme fraiche.

For those of you that are breadmakers, pizza dough holds no challenge.  I do cheat though and use my breadmaker on the dough setting.  And I did see focaccia dough in Tesco's which should work fine as a pizza base if you neither have the inclination nor machinery to try to make your own.

Small/Medium Pizza Base - Makes one 30cm 12in pizza
225g strong white bread flour
1/2tsp easy blend dried yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
140ml warm water

Pizza Topping
1 small onion
1 large clove of garlic
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp olive oil
2 fresh mozzarella
1 small pot creme fraiche (optional)
1 handful ham, or bacon

Knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes and leave it in a greased mixing bowl covered in a plastic bag for half an hour to prove.  Or put it in a bread machine on the pizza dough cycle.

After half an hour or at the end of the dough cycle put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and poke your fingers into it to 'knock it back' and flatten it.  Roll the pizza out as thin as a one pound coin.  Rather than make a circular pizza we just roll and pull it into a rectangular pizza to fit the oven tray.

While the dough is proving, or at some point earlier, make the tomato sauce.  Roughly chop the onion and garlic and soften in a small pan with the olive oil.  When soft add the chopped tomatoes and a can of recently boiled water.  Bring to the boil and simmer with the lid off to reduce for half an hour or whilst the dough proves.  Puree with a hand blender at the end of the cooking time.

When the dough is rolled out spread on the creme fraiche if using.  We discovered pizzas with creme fraiche in a tiny wood fired takeaway pizza hut in France a few summer's ago.  This seems to be a speciality of Alsace Lorraine, covered with lardons and blue cheese.  Whilst decadently rich, the children found the soft base easier to eat than the just tomato and cheese pizzas so we now add creme fraiche at home.

Spread the tomato sauce thickly over the creme fraiche, sprinkle on the ham, then spread out the mozzarella slices on top.

Cook in a preheated oven at 220C for 20 minutes turning after 10 minutes.  Leave to cool a little before serving particularly to children as they can't seem to stop themselves taking a big bite of molten cheese.

The possibilities for toppings, over and above tomato and cheese, are endless:  bacon, basil, salami, peppers, tuna, olives, capers, anchovies, rocket, mushrooms, blue cheese, chilli, egg...

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