Pizza is a staple food for many of us here in the UK, heavily influenced from our American cousins we have taken it on as one of our most eaten national dishes. Authentic home made pizza is a far cry from that dodgy post pub takeaway.
Pizza is traditionally cooked in a stone, wood fired oven, the intense heat cooks the thin dough very quickly from the bottom resulting in a lovely crispy base. This can be recreated at home with a pizza stone, they are readily available in homeware stores. Pizza is sold in pizzerias as thick or thin crust, here we focus on the classic thin crust version.
It is important to have a thin base when making pizza to ensure it crisps up during the short cooking time. Some chefs dust the base of the dough with semolina to increase the crispiness, Doughs are usually yeast based bread, have a look at our How to make pizza dough guide to see how it's done. Be sure not to overcrowd the top of the pizza with filling as this will prevent the dough from cooking through.
If using a pizza stone be sure to get it very hot before putting your pizza on it, if you don’t have a pizza stone you can use a heavy metal tray.
Depending on the thickness of the base and the heat of your oven the pizza could take anything from 3-10 minutes to cook. To check that the pizza is properly cooked, tap the bottom of the pizza in the middle, it should be crispy and golden brown.
Pizza is the ultimate quick lunch or midweek dinner and can be served with a host of topping and flavours. The most basic, traditional of pizzas is a Neapolitan, simply tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil, the name being a protected designation of origin for the city of Naples. Other popular toppings include pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, parma ham and olives.
Look to Geoffrey Smeddle’s Pizza with Jerusalem artichoke puree, spinach, pine nuts and spring onions or Frances Atkins’ Barbecued pizza topped with asparagus broad beans and fennel for some inspiration.