I love pizza – who doesn’t? The comfort in that delicious combination of tomato and cheese in every mouthful is really hard to beat. And really hard to resist. (Hence my long history of pizza related cheese burns on the roof of my mouth…)
But despite this, it’s really hard to find pizza that’s done right, outside of an Italian restaurant. I always find that shop bought pizzas fall far short of the mark, and I am often disappointed. There is not enough cheese, too much sauce, and so much topping that the middle sags with the soggy mass on top. Which makes it impossible to eat with your hands, and let’s face it, that’s defeating the point. At the other end of the shop pizza scale, the ‘cheese and tomato pizza’ advertised on the label isn’t much more than a glorified doughy base that someone showed the sauce and cheese to. You end up adding more topping, and for what it’s worth, might as well do it from scratch and get the toppings and the base right.
As you can imagine, I was quite excited to try the pizza flour that the lovely people at Matthews Cotswold Flour sent me, and yes, you heard that right – flour specifically for making pizzas. Hallelujah! Finally, here was a chance for me to make the perfect crust, and I wasn’t disappointed. This flour bakes into the soft, pillowy, crispy pizza bases that dreams are made of. The pizza did not last very long. But more on that later. Here’s how I got on.
Having received the pizza flour on Friday, I decided that this was the perfect excuse to make pizza for lunch on Sunday. Helpfully, Matthews Cotswold Flour have printed a recipe on the back of the bag of flour, so I decided to try this one, with a couple of tweaks.
It’s a very easy recipe to follow, and makes enough dough for a pizza base large enough for 2 people to share (depending on how hungry you are!). The pizza flour is mixed into a rough dough, then kneaded until it’s smooth and elastic. It’s delightfully soft to handle, and doesn’t take too much work to knead either. This pizza flour would be perfect for cooking with kids with short attention spans!
Because the dough is very elastic, it’s not easy to roll, and I would recommend hand stretching it instead. It can be easily stretched thin enough to make a good base, just be careful not to make holes in it! Doing the final shaping in a piece of baking parchment makes the base easy to move around – and to take in and out of the oven. The base is then ready to top, and bake in a hot oven. I decided to keep it simple, with homemade tomato sauce, grated cheese and a few basil leaves. This topping will bake evenly, and the tomato sauce chars bits of the crust into bursts of flavour. The crust meanwhile, will puff up into a beautifully crisp edge, and the base will be soft under the toppings – none of the sogginess of shop pizza. This pizza is really delicious. And as I said, it didn’t last long!
In case you can’t tell already, I’m seriously impressed with the results, and will definitely be using the Matthews Cotswold Flour pizza flour in all of my future pizza making! I think the only way to make it better would be to use a pizza stone or wood oven to crisp the base even more. Oh, and to have more of it! And next? I’m dreaming of pizza stuffed dough balls with garlic dunking sauce. Watch this space!
Cheese and Tomato Pizza Recipe
As I mentioned earlier, the basic pizza base recipe below is the one printed by Matthews Cotswold Flour on the back of the pizza flour packet, with a couple of tweaks. The sauce recipe is super simple and quick to make – perfect to get on the go before you start making the dough, and keep on a low simmer until you need it. Use mature cheddar or mozzarella cheese, and have some fresh basil leaves on hand for some extra flavour.
Serves 2, cooking time 25 mins, plus prep.
200g Matthews Cotswold Flour pizza flour
½ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp dried easy bake yeast
125ml lukewarm water (boil the kettle and allow to cool)
For the sauce:
(This will make enough for 2 pizzas, so either make ½ or keep some ready for next time!)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp green pesto
¼ tsp chilli powder
½ tbsp. olive oil
Mature cheddar cheese
Fresh basil leaves
Make the tomato sauce first. Pour the chopped tomatoes onto a shallow bowl or plate, and chop through so the pieces are really fine.
Add the tomatoes, pesto, olive oil and chilli powder to a pan, and mix together. Bring to a soft boil, then turn down to simmer over a low heat. Leave it to cook while you make the dough.
Sieve the pizza flour and salt into a mixing bowl, and whisk the yeast into the lukewarm water in a separate bowl or jug.
Make a well in the centre of the flour, then pour in the yeast mix.
Mix together with your hand until a dough forms, then turn it out onto a floured surface.
Knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic, then place it back in the bowl, cover loosely with cling film, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, grate enough cheese to cover the pizza – about 50g, depending on how cheesy you like it!
Preheat the oven to 240˚C, and remove the tomato sauce from the heat.
Remove the dough from the bowl, and lightly knead it again, then roll out or stretch the dough into a round pizza shape, leaving a slightly thicker edge to help contain the sauce topping. TIP – if hand stretching, hold it up and carefully stretch out each side from the centre.
Place it on a piece of baking parchment, and shape into the final pizza round. Try to make the base a maximum of 1 cm thick.
Add your toppings! Spread the tomato sauce thinly over the base, then sprinkle with cheese and dot with basil leaves.
Put the pizza in the oven on the baking parchment, directly onto the oven shelf.
Bake it for about 12 mins, or until the crust is puffy and crisp. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on it from about 10 mins, to avoid burning your precious creation!
Remove it from the oven and serve immediately for delicious hot cheesy bliss. Perfect.
You can buy the flour online here or from Aldi stores.
I was sent this product for review, but all views are my own.