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Jan 18

How to make pizza from scratch

Posted on Sunday, January 18, 2009 in Little known facts, munchies, Strange and Unusual

The inspiration for this blog post comes from Hails at Coffee Helps, and her list of 101 things to do in 1001 days.  This list is pretty inspirational, if you think about it.  It’s an excellent way to boost self esteem, to tick off all those things you’ve always wanted to do but never got around to doing.  Ticking things off is always therapeutic… that feeling of There!  I did it!  I’m not such a waster after all!… is pretty satisfying, especially if the task was particularly tough.

A sample of Hails’ list might look like this:

4. Record one thing a day that has made me happy, for thirty (not necessarily consecutive) days. (Underway at (1/30))

16. Smile at absolutely everyone I meet for a week. (0/1)

28. Climb a tree. (0/1)

49. Read at least five classic novels from this list, including one by Dickens. (0/5)

61. Learn how to say hello in 50 different languages. (Underway at (8/50))

73. Milk a cow. (0/1)

But the one that caught my eye was No. 42:

Make pizza from scratch. (0/1)

If you’re a fan of pizza (and who isn’t?), the best thing you can do for yourself is learn how to make one from scratch.  They’re better for you, and the addition of your own blood sweat and tears makes it taste nicer than anything you’ve ever tasted before.  Okay, so it’s time consuming, but after a few attempts it becomes second nature.



Preheat your oven to a medium to hot temperature.

To make the dough:

-Sift 150g flour into a bowl, and add a pinch of salt and a sachet of dried yeast (I like this stuff).

(Tip: try adding flavouring to the flour at this stage.. pinch of dried herbs, or a tsp chilli powder!)

-Stir 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the flour with a wooden spoon, blending well.

-Melt 1 teaspoon honey into a cup of warm water (sugar works just as well – yeast needs something sweet to develop doughy bubbly goodness), and gradually mix into the flour to bind it together.  If the mixture becomes too sticky, add teaspoons of flour until the dough becomes manageable again.

-Extract your ball of dough from the bowl, and turn it out onto a floured board.  Knead the dough for at least three minutes… think of it as being like chewing-gum… the longer you maul it, the more elastic it becomes.  The dough’s elastic quality is what makes it rise when it’s baked.

-Place your kneaded dough into a bowl and cover it with clingfilm, then let it rest for at least 20 minutes.

-(Start the tomato sauce now.)

-When you come back to the dough, you should find that it’s already expanded quite a lot, at which point (and this is the most satisfying part) you can punch the dough and feel the risen air escape.  Roll it out on the floured board to your required shape, and place onto a baking tray.  Curl the edges around if you like, stuffing the edges with cheese is time consuming but an interesting touch!  Pierce the dough several times with a knife, and bake the dough on its own until it starts to turn brown, then remove it to cool.  This gives you seriously delicious crustiness.

For the tomato sauce:

-Dice up a clove of garlic, and one medium onion.  Lightly fry them together in a saucepan with a little olive oil, until the onion becomes translucent.

-Throw in the contents of a can of chopped tomatoes and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Add salt and pepper, and herbs like basil or oregano (or both) and maybe a bit of chilli to give it a kick.  Tomatoes are very  bitter by nature… if you like, add 1 tsp sugar to counteract this – the calories are worth it.

-Simmer this sauce until the liquids boil down, at which point you can blend the sauce or leave it as it is.  Happily, by the time your sauce is ready, the dough should be risen and ready for rolling.

For the topping:

This part is up to you, and whatever tickles your Nancy.  Some suggestions are:

Chopped mushrooms, lightly fried chicken pieces, diced peppers, olives, pepperoni slices, sweetcorn, cubed ham, sliced tomatoes, diced avocado… be inventive!  I once fried cubes of lamb’s liver in a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and added it to the topping and it was feckin’ lovely.

-Cheese: 100g grated cheddar does the job nicely, but the addition of fresh Mozzarella is gorgeous, as are slices of Brie.


This is a whole lot of recipe and I know it looks quite daunting, but when you get into the stride of preparation it’s very easy.  Knock the dough together and place it into a covered bowl and while it’s rising, make the tomato sauce.  When the dough has risen, roll it out, score it and bake it to form a good crust, then remove to cool.  Smother the base with tomato sauce, your toppings of choice, and a good layer of cheese, then bake the pizza until the cheese has melted and begun to brown.  (Usually 15 minutes)


Bring on the comments

  1. le craic says:

    Going to give this a go – it’s the doughy bit that puts me off doing it.

    I bought some spelt bread pizza bases in the health shop last week and the result was excellent. Really light base and none of the bloat I’d get after eating a frozen pizza. Feeling hungry now.

  2. K8 says:

    Heee! I knew Twitter was good for something!!! ;)

    The bloat is good. Embrace the bloat. Treat it to a cold beer and watch cheesy films with it. Life is good.

  3. Use strong wholemeal flour, makes for an extra yummy base.
    I like to knead for a good 15 mins, work for it! :-)
    (I do 25 mins for bread, and usually feel like I’ve been to the gym after)

  4. Jo says:

    I do Delia Smyth’s pizza base, and cheat using Napolina topping, and I have to say the results are just GORGEOUS. The kids love making it. It’s so good. Totally worth it and not that time consuming. I love roast red peppers on it – stick it flat under the grill til the skin is blackened, stick it in a plastic bag for five minutes, then just slide the skin off. Nyum!

  5. Holemaster says:

    :( I can’t really eat pizzas that often. Once in a month maybe and I had one last night and then I see this! I’m sure I can make a healthy one though and have two a month.

  6. Maxi Cane says:

    I used to do this in my chef training.

    Now I dial Apache.

  7. Jo says:

    Domino’s is better these days, at least in Bray.

    Andrew says broccoli is great on pizza. Who knew?

  8. K8 says:

    Thriftcriminal; Wholemeal flour’s best health wise, you’re dead right, but it’s incredibly filling. That 00 Flour is best for pizzas, so that knob-end Jamie Oliver says. He might be right.

    Jo; MMMMM roasty peppers! You can’t bate them! Excellent comment suggestion, keep em rolling.

    Holemaster; Pizza is totally different when you make it yourself, and as Thrifty says, you’re getting a bit of a workout with it so it sort of cancels itself out :)

    Maxi; I love dial-a-pizza… it’s even better cold the next morning for breakfast. Out of the bin. Yes I’d go there.

    Jo; EVERYTHING is good on pizza. Even bananas. Maybe not icecream though.

  9. Hails says:

    Yay! Guess what I’m having for dinner tonight? :)

    Thanks K8. I’m getting on with this list at some speed!

  10. Nick says:

    Jenny made pizzas with prepared pizza bases for a while but we never got further than that. You can get such fabulous takeaway pizzas it doesn’t seem worth the effort to make your own, but maybe if you’re seeking taste paradise….

    Smile at everyone for a week? They’d think I was away with the fairies. And I probably would be….

  11. I spread it really thin on one of those baking sheets to begin with. Then once it is half cooked I slide it off that to crisp the bottom of the base up. That way I get a nice thin crispy wholemeal base that doesn’t feel like a lead weight in your gut.

  12. […] all the other things you could do, the other choices The Machine wants you to ignore. Make your own pizza from scratch, bake your own bread (my two typically devour a loaf I make in almost one sitting). It’s not […]

  13. Clare says:

    Ooooh, you just made me *really* hungry!

    I used to make pitza lots when I lived at home. Must get back into it. It really is one of the most delicious foods EVER and I just love, love, love piling on the topics and loving every mouthful.

    Hungry! :)

  14. Brianf says:

    Mmmmmmmm, Pizza!

  15. Lottie says:

    Now where do I find a modestly priced cow?

  16. @Lottie: Just after Harney gets fired?

  17. K8 says:

    Hails; Well done missus! Adding to the list too – I didn’t see the one about starting a new blog devoted to the amazingness that is the Creme egg? Bravo. More power! Seriously tempted to try my own list now.

    Nick; There is a lot to be said for Mizzoni’s alright… it’s just not quite… the same. I tried the smiling thing as an experiment – got smacked once but apart from that was a complete success.

    Thrifty; Savage advice… I’ll do that next time, ta!!! *slaps head* makes perfect sense too.

    Clare; Welcome pizza lover!! Don’t forget the beer. Cold beer :)

    Brianf; YEAH!

    @ Lottie & Thrifty: *giggle*

  18. Hails says:

    Well, y’know, it’s more generally “things that make me happy” and the Creme Egg is obviously one of those things! ;)

    I do recommend making a list. Yesterday I did one of the things on it and as a result got asked to write an article for the main national daily newspaper here!! Woot!

  19. K8 says:

    Score!!! That’s fantastic, well done! Lists are the new black :)

  20. Sarah Gostrangely says:

    ARGH….Im so hungry now K8!

    I second Andrew. Brocolli is fantastic.

    Also hummus. Carby but worth it.

  21. K8 says:

    Hummus – nice! So wouldye put that in with the sauce or spread it neat I wonder? I got a lovely batch of garlicky stuff at the market, cracker heaven so it is.

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