I’ve always felt mildly panicked at the thought of making pizza,” admits Kate Humble. “I blame my lurking fear of dough and kneading and all those things. But this is a great, stress-free way of making pizza for a gang without any fancy equipment. Better still, because you are making one big tray of pizza, no one has to wait for their pizza to be ready while everyone else is tucking into theirs.
“And although it might not win prizes in Naples for authenticity, it is still that winning combination of a pungently sweet tomato sauce, cheese and luscious toppings on a thin, tasty dough. That needs no kneading. Need I say more?! It does, however, need at least three hours to rise, so don’t think you can whizz this up for an instant supper. You might need takeaway for that.”
Tray of pizza
For the dough:
500g strong white bread flour
1 tbsp fine sea salt
7g fast-action dried yeast
5 tbsp olive oil
330ml warm water
For the tomato sauce:
400g can good-quality tomatoes
1 garlic clove, grated or minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 basil leaves, finely torn
Salt and pepper
For the toppings:
300g mozzarella, sliced
A selection of toppings, such as: chargrilled artichokes, roasted red peppers, semi-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, herbs, rocket
1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and yeast until everything is evenly distributed. Add two tablespoons of the olive oil and the warm water and mix together really well until you have a smooth ball of dough. It is a bit of a sticky and messy process, but it will all come together. Or you can do it in a food processor if you have one.
2. Once your dough is ready, pour three tablespoons of the olive oil onto your largest baking tray (ideally around 45x30cm) and spread it over the entire tray using your hands. Put the ball of dough onto the tray and roll it in the oil to coat. Squash and stretch the dough into a small, roughly rectangular shape, similar to that of your tray. It won’t stretch to the edges at this point. You’re just after a shape that is similar to your tray, but smaller. Cover loosely with oiled clingfilm and leave in a warmish place to rise for at least three hours or up to 12 hours.
3. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Pour the can of tomatoes into a bowl and add the garlic, olive oil, half a teaspoon of salt and the basil leaves. Using your hands, squash the tomatoes until finely pulped. You can use a stick blender if you prefer, but a bit of texture here is quite nice, so doing it by hand is best. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. You will have more sauce than you need, but it freezes really well and defrosts quickly, so you’ll have a handy supply for your next pizza, or you can use it for a quick pasta supper.
4. Once your proving time is up, and the dough has risen to at least double its size and is spreading out on the tray, preheat your oven to its highest setting. Place a shelf on one of the bottom rungs of the oven.
5. Gently stretch the dough to the edges of the tray. Try not to knock out too much of the air. Leave it somewhere warm while you assemble all your toppings, so once you come to make your pizza you can do it as speedily as possible.
6. Once ready, spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce onto the dough, leaving a clean rim around the edge which will be the crust. Top with the slices of mozzarella and anything else you like (although please resist the urge for pineapple). Then put in the oven for 10 minutes. Check it at this point to see if your pizza base has turned golden. If it hasn’t, give it a few more minutes. Remove from the oven and slide onto a wooden board for everyone to help themselves. No knives or forks needed, but napkins, or possibly bibs, are advised!
Recipe from ‘Home Cooked: Recipes From The Farm by Kate Humble’ (published by Gaia, £2; photography by Andrew Montgomery), available now.