PIZZA is perfect for our cash-strapped times – a comfort that can be cheap as chips to make at home.
It has been a budget treat since first served up in the late 18th or early 19th century.
James Elliot is one the two brothers behind Pizza Pilgrims who serve traditional-style Neapolitan pizzas[/caption]
James Elliot, one the two brothers behind Pizza Pilgrims who serve traditional-style Neapolitan pizzas, says: “Pizza was invented in the ultimate recession, in the south of Italy to create a delicious meal that was going to fill you up when things like meat were scarce.”
And in honour of National Pizza Day, today, James encourages YOU to cook one up at home – in a frying pan.
He says of Pizza Pilgrims: “In lockdown, restaurants closed and we started doing frying-pan pizza kits.
“Even though restaurants are now back open, it’s something we’ve been building on.
“If you don’t have a pizza oven, the best pizza is made in a frying pan.
“A dry frying pan replicates the bottom of a big wood oven.
“And then once you’ve cooked the base, you’ve got the toppings and you’ve put it under a grill, it makes the dough lovely, puffy and chewy.
“You’ve got delicious Neapolitan-style pizza and can do it in like five minutes.”
Here he tells how to make four pizzas for £4, so a quid a go, in your frying pan.
Makes 4 pizzas
For the dough:
- 500g ‘00’ flour with a high gluten content – 80p
- 1g fresh baker’s yeast – 2.8p
- 300ml cold water
- 15g table salt – 1.3p
For the topping:
- 1 tin of good-quality Italian chopped tomatoes – 60p
- A good pinch of sea salt – 1p
- Grated parmesan – 75p
- A handful of basil leaves – 40p
- 150g cow’s milk mozzarella, torn into pieces no bigger than a 50p coin – 69p
- Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil – 17p
MAKE YOUR OWN DOUGH
PILE up a mountain of flour in the middle of the table.
Using your fist, make a deep well in the middle of the flour, exposing the surface of the table (turning your mountain into a moon crater).
Crumble the yeast into the tepid water.
Use your good hand to mash up the yeast in the water until it has dissolved.
Fill your crater of flour with a third of the yeast/water mix.
Using your fingertips, start making very small circular motions to combine the flour and water.
Start dragging in some more flour to the mix, by undercutting the walls of the crater with your finger-tips.
As you do this, the mixture in the middle will thicken.
Once it reaches the consistency of porridge, add a bit more water.
Don’t let it get too thick – if it starts to form a dough too soon it becomes hard to incorporate the rest of the water.
Keep dragging in a little flour to thicken the mix, then pouring in a little bit more water to loosen it, until all the water is used.
Sprinkle the salt over the mixture while it’s still very wet so it dissolves and disperses evenly throughout the dough.
Use both hands to push the rest of the flour from the outside into the middle.
Fold and press the mix until the flour is absorbed and the dough comes together.
If you have a dough scraper it helps to get everything off the table, but you can improvise with a paint scraper, spatula or knife.
Work the gluten by kneading the dough.
Use the heel of your hand to stretch out the dough and roll it back up, as the other hand acts like an anchor.
You’ll see the strands of gluten stretching, breaking, being put back together and becoming stronger.
Continue this for about 8 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and glossy. It should also feel tighter and elastic.
Let the dough have a 10-minute rest, to relax the gluten.
Cover with a damp cloth or clingfilm to keep air from drying it out.
Divide the dough into portions.
We suggest 230g (8oz) balls for 10in pizzas. Ensure your balls are neat – pinched at the bottom, tight on top – then place in a tray or container 3cm (1in) apart.
Cover with a tight lid or clingfilm.
Now you can relax.
The yeast will take over from here.
Leave the dough at room temperature for approximately 6 hours, until it expands to almost double its size, then store in the fridge overnight.
The next day, remove the dough from the fridge for 1-2 hours and bring it back to room temperature before making your pizza.
USE A FRYING PAN FOR PIZZA
TURN up your grill to its highest setting and place an ovenproof frying pan over the high heat.
The hotter the better with this method.
Start by turning your grill to its highest setting and place an ovenproof frying pan over the high heat[/caption]
Blitz the chopped tomatoes in a food processor or crush by hand, and add a pinch of salt, to make your sauce.
Grab your dough and stretch out the pizza base.
Once your pizza base is about 10in wide, lay it in the hot, dry frying pan.
Add the tomato sauce, Parmesan, basil, mozzarella and olive oil (in that order).
The olive oil goes on the pizza – not in the pan.
When the base of the pizza has some colour and the crust has risen slightly, put the pan on the highest shelf under the hot grill.
When the crust turns slightly golden and your pizza has good char bubbles, it is ready to eat.
JAMES’S TIPS FOR MAKING PIZZA AT HOME
Save some dough and make your own: People are always so scared to make their own dough.
But it’s just four ingredients – flour, water, yeast and salt.
And if you’ve got the time, I would definitely recommend making your own.
You can make it once, freeze some dough balls then just pull them out when you want them.
Don’t over-sauce: In Italy, they call it “seasoning the bread” – it’s about celebrating the dough.
So if you put on too much tomato, or cheese, it loses that delicateness and deliciousness.
Don’t overload, you want it to be nice and balanced.
Have a fridge raid: You should be able to go into any fridge and find at least three good flavour combinations.
You might have a couple of olives sitting in a jar, a slice of ham, and a couple of mushrooms.
You could just take a load of bits and bobs of cheese you have left over in your fridge – have a clearout and call it a four-cheese pizza.
Keep it simple: In Italy, tomato, mozzarella, basil and olive oil is the ultimate flavour combination.
I think a margherita pizza is the perfect expression of that. It’s our best seller.