Rustle up some home-made pizzas
There’s something about the idea of home-made pizzas that appeals on so many levels. Firstly, obviously, there’s the significant economic benefits. Then there’s the fact that if you’re making them at home, they don’t classify as ‘take-away’ which means they’re virtually sin-free. *Coughs delicately.* Other pluses – I know the kids will eat it, and we can tailor-make them to suit individual tastes. But mostly, I’m in love with the concept of having a little weekend family ritual, where we all gather around in the kitchen, chattering and laughing about our week as we gaily toss dough into the air, have flour fights and decorate our pizzas together. I mean, we’re not there yet. It’s still me beavering away in the kitchen by myself while occasionally getting pestered by small children, but rituals have to start somewhere, capisce?!
Unfortunately, previous attempts at pizza dough-making have resulted in some doughy monstrosities that would not have been out of place in a discus-throwing event, such was their weight and girth. So much so that when I excitedly announce my pizza-making plans I could see my husband cower slightly in fear and offer such helpful suggestions as ‘shall we just order one?’ or ‘don’t we have some Lebanese bread in the freezer?’.
But there will always be detractors on our road to betterment, people, the important thing is that we don’t listen to them! I also argued that I was now using the dough recipe that our friend had proclaimed to be ‘foolproof’, from Donna Hay’s Seasons cookbook, praying that I wasn’t the one fool that would prove it wrong.
My husband finally got with the program and took Mr 5 shopping for ingredients, during which Mr 5 then reportedly had a meltdown in the shop when he discovered we weren’t getting pizzas delivered. You see what I’m dealing with here?!
But back to the pizzas. Into a bowl went 2 teaspoons dry yeast, half a teaspoon of sugar and a cup of lukewarm water, which were mixed and set aside in a warm place for 5 minutes. I chose a spot under the dining table within range of the gas heater and just had to pray that my daughter wouldn’t need a ‘private moment’ – as that’s currently her special place for such matters.
Finally after bubbles appeared on the surface (the recipe said it would take five minutes, but it was more like 15), I added it to a mixture of 2.5 cups plain flour and one teaspoon of salt, which had been made into a well. (How fun is making wells in flour?! Ahh, it’s the little things in life…)
I mixed it together, unfortunately reading the bit about ‘with well-floured hands’ a bit too late, and formed a dough, kneading on a floured surface for five to 10 minutes until it was ‘smooth and elastic’ (and then spending about the same amount of time trying to get all the bits of dough off my hands and out of my wedding rings).
I then had to divide the dough into four equally-sized balls. Clearly I used the term ‘equally’ loosely, or maybe I was making smaller ones for the kids, I can’t remember. Let’s go with the latter, eh?
I then needed to wait 30 minutes until balls doubled in size and son asked ‘When will our pizzas be ready?’ seven times. Then I had to squish the dough flat and roll on a floured surface until 25cm in diameter. Donna also suggests making a border around each pizza by pressing 2cm inside the edge of the dough with your fingers. I don’t actually recall reading that at the time, but it would certainly explain why her pizzas have a lovely little edge and mine, well, didn’t. I like to call mine ‘the infinity pizza’…
The recipe then instructed to put your dough on some non-stick baking paper before spreading with your chosen toppings and baking for about 10 mins at 220 degrees C. Well, I’m giving the baking paper the big fat thumbs down, as a) my pizza got decidedly stuck to the bottom of it and I had to spend about 10 minutes prising little strands of paper off my pizza base and b) it’s pretty precarious getting a fully-laden pizza out of the oven using just baking paper. (And by ‘precarious’, I mean I dropped one of the little buggers on the floor. It was around this time that pizza delivery started to have renewed appeal.)
But look, here is one of the kids’ pizzas that made the grade (some would call it a ‘margarita’, I would call it ‘the pizza with nothing much on it because Fussy Children’) and it did the job pretty well.
Ours (the non-floor-wearing one) had onions, garlic, ham, mushrooms, capsicum, olives and oregano and cheese on a pizza sauce base. And it was really rather yum. Mind you, after the ordeal of putting them together I probably would’ve eaten anything. So there you have it, the birth of a Family Ritual. Now I just have to keep doing this once a week for the next 20 years…
Verdict: Success (ish)
Lessons Learnt: No baking paper base. Prepare son well in advance that pizzas will be home-made.