The ingredients for a perfectly chilled PJ and pizza party
Friday night is Pizza and PJ Night in our house. We make pizzas, stick our jamas on and have a carpet picnic. The kids love it because they get to watch telly while they eat their tea, we love it because the making of the pizza dough is therapeutic and gives us a chance to unwind from the week. It also marks the start of the weekend. A mini celebration ritual.
It's taken us years to perfect our pizzas but we've finally cracked it after many experiments. Below is our recipe for the perfect pizza. Now all you need is the PJs!
Pizza Dough Recipe, makes three large pizzas or four smallish ones:
500g strongwomen white bread flour
Half a teaspoon of salt
7g sachet of fast action dried yeast
Half a tablespoon of caster sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for drizzling
325ml lukewarm water
Polenta for scattering
Tomato puree or passata
Toppings of your choice
Sieve the flour into a big mixing bowl (chefs tell you to just put it on your worktop - this is disastrous in our experience unless you have the three metre long rustic table of an Italian farmhouse.) and make a well in the centre.
In a jug, mix the sugar, yeast and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into your flour well. If you wear rings take them off at this point unless you want them caked in dough (done this so many times!). Use your hands to bind the water and flour in the bowl until it comes together. Transfer to a floured worktop and knead for a good ten minutes until you have a soft, smooth dough. Put your ball of dough in a large bowl dusted with flour, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a nice warm place for at least an hour until doubled in size.
Preheat your oven to 240oC fan, reduce accordingly for non-fan ovens. When heated, put in a pizza tray, pizza stone or baking tray (whatever you're cooking the pizza on) to get mega hot.
Then, remove your dough, put it on a flour dusted surface and knead it (knock it back) to push the air out of it. Cut your dough in to three or four pieces - however many pizzas you're making - then for each one, roll out to the thickness of a pound coin. Don't put your toppings on yet. We tend to roll one, top one, cook one and then carry on from there - one at a time - but that's only because we have one pizza tray!
Get all your ingredients ready to hand including your polenta because when you're topping your pizza you have to work fast.
Take your tray out of the oven (careful, it will be hotter than the sun), scatter it with a little polenta (this helps it to get crispy) and place your rolled out pizza dough on top - it might start to bubble and that's a good thing. Spread on your tomato puree or passata, scatter over a little sugar, some oregano then if you're using mozzarella or cheese put that on top. Top with whatever you like - we like proscuitto and olives or goats cheese and pesto, drizzle with olive oil and black pepper and cook in the middle of your oven for around 10 minutes, but keep an eye on it through the oven door. When it's cooked to your liking, transfer to a cooling tray to crisp up and eat while hot. We like ours with a glass of Gavi or a cold Peroni.
If you can't be bummed making your own dough, the Pizza Pilgrims have launched a Frying Pan Pizza Kit which they deliver nationwide here. You can find out more here.
Now don those PJs, put your beverages into cool and enjoy.