About Me

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My name is Lucy and I have never blogged before. Well that's a lie. I have, but it was this one, and I neglected it for a little while... I live in a commuter town outside London having moved here about a year and a half ago after making some pretty big changes in my life. I share a beautiful little cottage on the Grand Union Canal with 1 crazy beautiful little girl and an equally crazy cat called Bandit (appropriately named as he now lives in all the houses on the street and steals...). Lawyer/working mum and it would appear, terminally single (I've reserved my spinster plaque already) I was fortunate to escape the evil commute about a year ago but seem to have less time than ever.... If I entertain you, make you laugh or fume (or make you have an emotion of ANY description) then my job is done. Enjoy x

Sunday, 29 January 2012

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore

My earliest proper mummy/daughter cooking memory takes us back to the reception class of my primary school in North London.  It was the '80s, I was wearing a loud Osh Kosh B'Gosh outfit, my 2 younger siblings had not yet joined the party and my mummy was the most important person in my world (I apologise, that sentence sounded a lot more "Dirty Dancing" than I intended).  I'm not sure if it was a "show-and-tell-your-parent" type scenario or if, it being a middle class area where most of the mothers didn't work, it was expected that the mothers would come in to class to help once in a while.  Either way I was incredibly excited about my mum's visit and couldn't wait to show off "my-mother-cos-she's-better-than-yours".  My mum was coming into class to teach us all how to make pizza and so my class spent a lovely afternoon making pizza with my mother.  MY MOTHER.  I was not a happy camper.  In our house my older sister was very much a daddy's girl and I was very much a mummy's girl.  That's just how it was.  I wasn't used to sharing my mummy or her praise.  As the afternoon progressed I grew more and more frustrated* with the fact that my mother was being nice to the other kids and not giving me 100% of her attention (much like my husband is behaving right now because I'm writing this blog instead of giving him my undivided attention).  I'm pretty certain I caught a "talking to" and I'm also certain I deserved it.  I don't remember if the pizza was any good.

Pizza ranks very highly in our house.  One of the biggest things we miss from living in the US is Jerry's Pizza in Middletown, CT.  For some reason the UK pizza places just can't get it right.  We've ordered local, Pizza Hut, Perfect Pizza, Dominoes, Papa Johns and still they never get it right.  Well since the Christmas CT trip I vowed to find out how to make NY style pizza dough so, as part of my procrastination to avoid spring cleaning, I took a bash at it tonight.

I flicked through a couple of my US cook books and couldn't find anything so turned to the good old t'internet and this one seemed worth trying.

The recipe - NY style pizza (slightly adapted as usual)

Pizza dough

1 1/2 cups warm water (between 105F-110F)
4 1/2 cups of bread flour
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of active dried yeast

Tomato sauce

1 small clove of garlic
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon of basil
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
salt and pepper
dash of Tabasco

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast, sugar and salt in the warm water (you can give it a bit of a stir to help it out).

2. Add the olive oil and flour and stir with a metal spoon until the ingredients all come together into a dough (this should not take too long).
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 12 minutes.
4. Mold the dough into a ball (the dough ball shouldn't have any visible seams anywhere but the underside of the dough ball).
The dough chills out with
the towels
5. Lightly wipe a little olive oil around the inside of a large bowl and place the dough ball into the bowl, seam side down.  Apply a little olive oil to the top of the dough ball (this helps stop it forming a skin).  Cover the bowl cling film and allow to proof for 1−2 hours in the airing cupboard or wherever you feel the need to put your dough (you can leave it at room temperature but our kitchen can get a little cold).  You can make the dough in advance and store it in refrigerator to use the next day. 

6. While the dough is proving make the tomato sauce.  Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic until it is lightly golden.  Add all of the other ingredients to the pan and cook for a further 5-10 minutes.  Leave aside to cool.

7. Once at least doubled in size retrieve the dough, divide into 2 pieces and turn one of the pieces out onto a lightly floured surface.  Leave the other piece in the bowl and cover. 

Lightly flour the top, then using your fingertips evenly flatten out the dough ball. 

8. Working from the edge to the centre of the dough, press the dough into a 12" circle.  Then place both hands on the dough and stretch with fingertips and palms maintaining an even pressure. (you could also use a lightly floured rolling pin).

9. Transfer the dough (now our base) onto a pizza stone (or a baking sheet would work).

10. Call for "assistance" to make the pizza.  Apply the tomato sauce, and allow a half naked toddler to help put the toppings on (we decided to go with half ham and pineapple and half pepperoni - little Miss Naughty also decided to provide an additional topping and sneezed on the pepperoni half - which was fine by me since it was the husbands half) and sprinkle tons of mozzarella cheese all over it.  Please note that the toddler will also need to be watched to prevent a reduction in the amount of toppings available...the ham and pineapple, in our instance, kept disappearing.... 
Half ham and pineapple, half pepperoni and sneeze
11. Bake in a really hot oven - 225C until the crust is golden and the cheese all melted.



12.  EAT!

The pizza was pretty good.  In fact, in the words of the husband it was "pretty damn close" which with him is a fantastic response for my first effort.  The little one also enjoyed it, barely speaking and sitting still the entire dinner.  Result!

The actual making of the dough was a pretty easy process to be honest - whack everything in the bowl in the right order, mush it into a dough then let it prove.  Bish, bash, bosh and you're done!  That being said, I will play around with it next time, for example:

(i) I didn't exactly follow the original recipe (see a pattern here?) as it said "half a teaspoon of yeast" but:
  • it didn't specify whether it meant fresh yeast or active dried; and
  • every other recipe I looked at called for at least 2 teaspoons of active dried yeast,
so I went with 2 teaspoons of active dried yeast (as noted in the recipe above).

(ii) It was tricky getting the oven the right temperature to cook the pizza evenly.  Next time I will put the stone in the oven to heat up, prepare the pizza on a separate board and then try to transfer it onto the hot stone.  I may also lower the temperature of the oven to stop the sides cooking faster, or even attempt to use the grill with the hot stone to get the heat going from top to bottom; bottom to top.

(iii) In line with (ii) I'm seriously tempted to by myself a pizza peel.

(iv) The dough really rose very well (a little too well), so next time I will try a couple of things, either:
  • divide the dough into 3 balls and stretch the dough out even thinner;
  • still divide the dough into 2 balls but prick the dough all over with a fork to see if that helps aerate the base (and not rise so much); or
  • use a little less yeast.
(v) With the sauce, I'll use a little less herbs next time.  I like a herby tomato sauce on pasta but not so much on my pizza.

Who needs Dominoes eh??

Oh, and if you're wondering what happened to the other dough ball just wait...

*devil child


  1. mmm yummy - and your first pizza? really? you have been working too hard my dear...

  2. Well no, technically, there was the incident with my mother...But yes, technically my first from absolute scratch. I have made pizza using a ready made base or in the US supermarkets you can actually buy pizza dough bagged and ready to make in the bakery section. My family also used to make a kind of pizza toast which my baby bro dubbed the "Frujiggy". Seriously, up till now I've had a fear of baking disaters!