The Italians who came up with the idea of layering a flat bed of leavened flour with a sauce and some simple vegetables sure created something great for mankind. Don't be daunted by the thought of making a pizza from scratch, this is a simple enough recipe and the looks of wonder on the faces of the people who bite in that first slice is what makes the whole process worthwhile. So let's get started...
Ingredients for the pizza base :
Dry Yeast : about 6 teaspoons heaped
Warm Water : a cup
Maida : 2 1/2 cups
Baking Powder : about 2 teaspoons heaped
Vegetable Oil : 2 teaspoons (preferably Olive Oil)
Salt : 1/2 a teaspoon.
Take the lukewarm water in a bowl and drop in the 6 heaped teaspoons of dry yeast. Remember, the water has to be slightly warm, if it is piping hot it will kill the yeast and the dough will not ferment. After dropping in the yeast cover the bowl and let is sit for 10 to 15 minutes. After the 10 minutes are up, the yeast will have dissolved and formed a murky foamy liquid. Drop in the maida, baking powder, salt and oil. Now stick a long spoon into the mixture and keep mixing it around till everything lumps together to form a sticky white mass. Scrape the sticky dough off the spoon and start mixing the dough with your hand in a circular motion, it will be blatantly sticky and gooey. Now smear your palms with vegetable oil and start kneading the dough lightly into a ball as shown below.
Cover the dough with a clean damp cloth and set it aside for an hour, or half an hour if you are in a hurry. (Now would be a good time to work on the tomato based sauce described a few steps below while you wait for the dough to rise.)
After an hour or so the dough would have risen quite a bit, can you make out the more pronounced bulge in the above picture?
Remove the cloth and you'll see that the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough down and then turn it on to a lightly greased pizza tray.
Moving on to the sauce: Marinara Sauce is the tomato based sauce used in pizzas and pastas. This is readily available at supermarkets in other countries, I haven't found any in the city I live in... so I just make my own.
Ingredients for the Marinara Sauce
Olive Oil : 2 Tablespoons (can use ordinary vegetable oil too)
Tomatoes : 5 to 6 ripe red tomatoes
Garlic : 7 to 8 cloves chopped
Oregano, chillie flakes, salt and pepper to taste
First, wash and grind all the tomatoes into a paste. Then heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or vegetable oil) in a pan and drop in the chopped garlic, fry till garlic turns light brown. Then pour in the tomato juice and cover the vessel, let it cook for 15 minutes or so.
Getting back to the pizza base...
Place the tray in the oven for 10 minutes to stiffen up the dough. Here I have just removed it from the oven after baking for 10 minutes, you can see that the dough has risen a bit and it is more firm. This step is done to prevent the dough from becoming soggy when the marinara sauce is spread over it.
Now spread the marinara sauce evenly over the base.
Here I have used a capsicum and onion vegetable topping.
I had some ham in the freezer so I chopped that up and spread it over the vegetables. I even used a little grated cheddar cheese in between.
Salami topping... I went all out on this pizza.
Sprinkle chillie flakes and oregano... sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over this and then stick it in the oven to bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
Here's the final product.. and trust me on this its abso-freakin-lutely delicious. And one other thing, I only used Cheddar Cheese here, cause I found out that it tastes the best. I tried using mozzarella (the actual cheese used on Pizza) but it tasted like cardboard, hence I stick to Cheddar cheese now. You get these in stores in chunks, grate them and then sprinkle them over the pizza before baking. A cheese slice was lying in my fridge, those thin plastic wrapped ones.... I cut it into strips and added that to the pizza too, and that explains those white lines of cheese in between all that yellow baked cheddar goodness.
Here are a few other pizzas made over the past few months using different toppings but following the exact same method described here...
This is a simple vegetarian pizza, used only a capsicum and onion topping and it was just as fabulous.
Here's another one with capsicum, onions, ham and bacon topping...
So go ahead, give it a shot... and enjoy some fresh home baked pizza.