Frugality or folly: homemade pizza
I know, I know; pizza is not good for you. And let’s face it – it is not only ‘junk’ food giving us a load of carbs and bad fats but it is also something that responsible adults are not supposed to like.
OK, call me irresponsible than but I like pizza; between pizza and me it has been a passionate love affair from the very first bite I took when I was in my teens. Yep, when I was growing up in Bulgaria pizza was not exactly very popular and my first taste of it was when I was about fifteen, I suppose. Then I went to university and I lived very near a great pizza place; so pizza and beer became staples of my diet.
I was young and my body could cope with it. Now we have a growing up lad, and bodies that have reached the stage where too much carbs and bad fats is not too good. So we have two problems:
- One, we all like pizza but it is not too good for us; and
- Two, our son really likes Dominos pizzas.
You already know that I don’t cope well with abstinence and we all know that Dominos pizzas are extra-unhealthy and very over-priced. Even when sold with ‘two for the price of one’ offers, £16.99 (about $27) makes frugality, artictic or not, shy in the corner. And last time we were getting some the offer of ‘hotdog stuffed crust’ was muttered; can you imagine anything less appealing than that?
There is one solution to these two problems: make it yourself. Homemade pizza doesn’t have to ‘junk’ food and it costs very little to make – both as ingredients and as effort.
To make tasty, healthy, relatively speaking, and frugality fueled pizza you need to get to grips with the two elements to it:
- dough base; and
And let me tell you from now – buying ready dough base is not going to cut it because it is not tasty and as to healthy…well, I am sure that it contains ingredients the list of which sounds like half of Mendeleev’s Periodic Table.
I learned to make the whole thing from scratch; also, amazingly, for the dough I use a Jamie Oliver recipe. Tacit knowledge and ‘glugs’ of wine be damn!
If you wish to play with making dough (and it is certainly worth it) you can find the recipe here. There are two tricks:
- The recipe tell you to dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water. This is very important because in my experience if the water is a bit warmer or colder than necessary your dough won’t rise; and you will be justified in thinking that it would have been so much better to buy it ready. Lukewarm means that when you put your finger in the water you feel no difference. Go with this and you can’t get it wrong.
- Make sure that you allow the dough to rise before making the bases; if you have loads of time, just leave somewhere warm(er). If not, put the over on 40C and put the bowl with the dough inside for about 20 minutes. It should at least double.
This is what my latest pizza dough looked like at the begining:
…and this is what it looked like after 20 minutes in a warm place:
I have a friend who used the tomato sauce that goes on the base as an opportunity to get as many weird vegetables in her teenage son as possible. I don’t do that (I use soups). If I am making tomato based pizza (red pizza) I use tomato passata. If I am making ‘white’ pizza, I drizzle a bit of olive oil on the dough base.
You can put any cheese on your pizza; in fact, goat cheese tastes great on it and has the advantage of being less fat than yellow cheeses. Nothing is wrong with hard mozzarella either.
The rest is entirely your choice; this is the beauty of making pizza at home – you can make it as healthy or not as you wish. You can also accommodate different tastes: for instance, I like very thin base white pizza with rocket salad and Parma ham on top. Our son, like thick base, cheese loaded and chorizo embossed pizza with cheese stuffed crust (he is growing fast, very slim and sporty).
Making pizza at home means that we are both happy: I can have mine and he his choice.
Have a go and try this one. While making the dough you can use the opportunity to release stress and tension. When it comes to baking remember that pizza is good when it is bakes at very high temperature for a short time (I put the over on 200-220C).
Make pizza from scratch five times; when you have done this and you are sure that you are well on your way to create a habit invest in some pizza baking stones – the difference is incredible.
As to me, last time I came close to perfection: my son said that it is almost as good as Dominos.