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On the Lighter Side

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I find that my week goes a lot better if I have a favourite dish waiting for me at the end of it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving the stir fries and salads, but sometimes what I really want is a pizza. That’s why I’ve come up with what I think is an awesome pizza recipe that allows me to indulge, without too much guilt. The key to this, I feel, is to make your own base. This means that your base can be amazingly thin and you won’t be as conscious stricken!

Below I have the recipe I use for the pizza base, as well as some of the toppings I like to put on. The base recipe has come from a lot of experimentation. It is a moist dough, but that gives it a lot of stretch.

Pizza base

  • 400ml Bread flour (stoneground is best!!)
  • 1Tbsp salt
  • 180ml lukewarm water (+/- 45 degrees C)
  • 1Tbsp honey
  • 1 sachet dry active yeast
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (this adds a silkiness to the dough and helps keep it moist, but you don’t want to put too much in as the base will be hard rather than crispy – yes, there is a difference ;))
  • Flour for dusting
  1. Mix the water, honey and yeast together in a small bowl and set aside for +/- 5 min (this wakes the yeast up and gets it moving)
  2. Put your flour in a large mixing bowl (or make a well on your counter if you’re feeling bold!), mix in the salt and add your wet mixture steadily, stirring with a fork until it all comes together. (Note: as tempting as it may be, adding your salt to the yeast mixture could kill the yeast – and the rising action. Not desirable!)
  3. Dust your counter with flour and turn your dough out onto the flour.
  4. Knead to your hearts content. Really get in there! Kneading helps develop flavour and texture so give it all you’ve got for a good 10 minutes (fun fact: apparently this will burn +/- 30 calories)
  5. Once you have an elastic texture (you can poke it and it bounces back) and you no longer have dough hands, you’re done! Form into a ball, and place in a floured bowl to rise. The bigger the bowl, the better. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel to avoid the dough forming a crust.
  6. After about an hour, knock the air out of the dough (punch it baby!) and leave it to rise again for another 45 min.
  7. Divide the dough into four balls and roll out to +/- 28cm rounds.
  8. You now have your base and can add your toppings as desired
Note: The way I like to build a pizza is to heat a 28cm casserole dish in the oven (at 220 degrees C), remove it from the oven, turn it upside down and put the raw pizza base on top. This acts like a pizza stone (which I don’t have) and helps the base cook from the bottom as well. I then put all the toppings on and cook in the hot oven for 10 to 15 min until it’s super crispy.
My favourite toppings include: (not all on the same pizza)
  • Mozzarella (such a must!)
  • Simple basil tomato sauce (made by blitzing 1tin of tomatoes, a handful of basil and 3 garlic cloves in the food processor)
  • Roasted cherry tomatoes (in a 180 degree oven for 40 min)
  • Caramelised onion (onion, salt, garlic, a little honey and balsamic vinegar cooked on a low heat for 30 min – stir often to avoid burning. Top tip: Adding salt draws moisture out of the onion helping it to caramelise and stopping it from burning, putting a lid on also helps with this)
  • Olives (calamata are my favourite because they’re the easiest to de-pip and I find that olives that are already de-pipped are bitter)
  • Cremozola – amazingly creamy gorgonzola cheese!
  • Roasted garlic
  • Leaves: Baby spinach, Rocket, Basil and Watercress – all of which can either be added before or after cooking
  • Feta (Fairview’s anti-brine society rocks, so does Fruit and Veg’s Danish feta!!)
  • Avocado
  • Like-it-lean bacon
  • Pine nuts
These are just a few suggestions. Really, the options are endless! In my experience, the simpler the better. I don’t like overloading my pizza.
To help balance the pizza (life is about balance) I like to share a pizza and have a salad on the side. Yum!
Happy moving and munching!