‘Piece of pie’ forgiving pizza bases

Last night, we visited our neighbours and stayed for an impromptu pizza party. The only problem was that neither of us had any pre-made bases. A bit of a problem. Fortunately, I had been having pizza at a friend’s place while on holiday; she had made her own bases and said they were both quick and easy. Given that they don’t take hours, any excuse I had to not make my own was gone… So Helen and I decided to give it a go. I call them forgiving pizza bases because, for a later batch, I forgot to put in the yeast (then wondered why it wasn’t rising ;-P ). After we belatedly put in the yeast and only let it rise for about 10 minutes, they still worked. Am thinking that, without the yeast, it becomes a ‘scone dough’ type base, which is even quicker to make. We made both spelt flour and plain wheat flour bases. I can vouch that the spelt base was delicious (no, not like cardboard) and the kids ate the wheat flour bases up so quickly that I can only assume similar there!

All appreciation goes to the Best Recipes website (http://www.bestrecipes.com.au/), whose recipe we adapted (I see no point in leaving a good recipe un-bastardized as I can’t help fiddling with things). If you decide to use spelt flour, then I suggest adding another half cup or so flour to stop it being too sticky. Usually I use gluten free flour in the same proportions as spelt flour (I have a wheat intolerance), so I think the same substitution should work here. Next time, I’ll try it with gf flour! This recipe makes two thin medium sized pizzas or one thick one.

Preheat your oven to about 220C. It needs to be hot by the time you put your pizzas in, so this is important.

In a bowl, mix together 2 cups plain flour (or 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups spelt flour), 1 tsp castor sugar (this helps activate the yeast), 7g sachet dry yeast, and a sprinkle of salt. If you like a herby base, you could add dried herbs here too – but not too many!

Then add 2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil. We only had vegetable oil and it worked absolutely fine. Also add 3/4 cup of warm (but not hot – you’ll kill the yeast!) water. I think that baby-bath warm is probably a good benchmark.

Now stir it all together. You should end up with a dough that holds together but might be ever so slightly dry (if it’s wet or sticky, add more flour). Knead it to make a soft ball, then place it in the bottom of your mixing bowl. Cover with a warm, wet tea towel and place in a warm spot for 30-40 minutes until the dough has doubled in size. We just sat our bowls in a spot in the sun and the dough rose beautifully.

When it has risen enough, punch the dough. It makes it shrink! But it also gets rid of extra air bubbles. Then knead your dough a bit – don’t do it too much as you don’t want to make it tough. When it looks nice and smooth, break it into two parts (for two pizzas – or just leave it as one) and roll each part into a ball. This should give you two balls that are about the size of a large lemon or small orange. Now use a rolling pin to roll the dough out in whatever way you like. Helen’s ended up perfectly round but mine ended up slightly Australia-shaped (not I’m not that patriotic; it was an accident!).

Put your dough onto a tray and then dress it any way you like. We used Helen’s special pizza sauce (hopefully I can prompt her to share her recipe here), yesterday’s pesto, capsicum, olives, salami, ham, fior di latte cheese and a bit of mozzarella. Nothing too fancy. We put it into the hot oven for about 20 minutes – when the edges of the base were browned, the whole thing was ready.

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I hope you give it a go – surprisingly easy and super delicious. Please post your variations and ideas here!

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