Shortcrust pastry – tick.
Puff pastry – tick.
Omelettes – tick.
Soufflees – tick.
Hollandaise sauce – tick.
Mayo – well this post isn’t about mayo.
Bread though – I needed to tick bread off the list.
Naturally I started with croissants. I have to say that if you haven’t made bread before, possibly croissants are not the most sensible place to start. I thought they were ‘cos they sounded like the puff pastry stuff with a bit of yeast chucked in.
They were terrible. Disastrous. Inedible. I left yeast alone for many years.
Bread-making did not happen again until marital bliss involved my partner making wholemeal loaves for a good few years.
Even more years later, I was still annoyed by this failure to tick bread off the list. I had a week off work. I bought a bread book. (Actually I bought two but one was better than the other). Most importantly I had a Rayburn. I figured the problem had not been letting the stuff rise or prove or whatever for long enough.
I determined that I would cook bread every single day until I had produced at least one decent loaf. And dear reader, I did, and I produced more than one.
In fact, I don’t know where I went wrong before, it is so easy!!
Anyway, I have to recommend making your own pizza. Seriously. By the time you have rung up the pizza place, got them to deliver some soggy stuff with not really the topping that you want – or you have wandered up to collect your own slightly less soggy pizza – you could have made your own for less than half the price.
Should say – cost of flour (Allinsons) less than 50p. Cost of dried yeast (also Allinsons) – minimal – a 125g container costs 70 or 80p. I used to use fresh yeast but haven’t found any in Gib. People living in Spain can buy it from Mercadona for around 30/35 cents. That reminds me, I started to decrease the recommended amount of yeast, you can usually manage with less.
Ingredients/quantities courtesy of Paola Gavin – Italian Vegetarian Cookery
1/2 oz of dried yeast, I use two teaspoons
2 tablespoons of olive oil, I pour in what feels like enough
Add yeast to water and let dissolve until it looks nice and cloudy and yeastyish
Add olive oil to yeast and water
Add liquid to approx 8oz of flour
Mix well, then add more flour to wherever you are going to knead and put (soft and wet) dough on there to start the kneading
Keep adding flour until it is springy but still soft without being wet
Then add to bowl to rise for max one hour (in warm weather or a warm place, half an hour may be enough)
Cover with clean tea towel
When risen, knock back, and roll out to pizza shape of choice, I prefer squarish – my tins are square …..
I use a mix of wholemeal and white strong flour, probably more white as it gives a crispier base
Add a drop of olive oil to the bowl before you put the dough in to rise
Another drop for the tin or tray you are going to cook it in
Cooking time in hot oven? About 15 mins. See? Half an hour or so to rise, 15 mins to cook, and it’s ready. DO NOT forget to put it on a cooling tray immediately to ensure the base stays crisp.
I used to use a tomato based sauce, but I have recently decided it is far more successful to just chuck a load of stuff on top like they do in pizza places.
So instead of sauce – chop up as many tomatoes as you want and cover base (I need to buy some puree to smear over too), add onion, garlic, hot chillies of your choice, olives, capers – and anything else you want.
I really dislike cheese on my pizza nowadays, I like a hot sharp and tasty veg pizza. But if you like cheese, and whatever else, go ahead, add it.
As my partner said – ‘I can manage without cheese on my pizza, I can’t manage without olives’.