You have to hand it to the Italians sometimes. While French food is all art and sophistication, not everyone likes escargot or steak tartare. With spaghetti, pizza and tiramisu, however, I've never had anyone refuse those offerings.
Pizza is great party food, because for a relatively low outlay you can feed many people. This recipe produces thick crust pizza (which I am proud to say I used to love from Pizza Hut, before the culinary world imposed its thin crust bias on me), which can be quite filling, so be careful not to overbudget. You can always cheat and buy one of the pre-made pizza bases, but this way is so much cheaper and more enjoyable.
This is not gourmet pizza, with wood-fired ovens and strategic charring, but it can be made in the convenience of your own home, without too much fuss.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
2 ½ Tbsp yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
Pinch of sugar
1 tsp salt
3 ½ bread flour
Notes on Ingredients: This is rather similar to making focaccia, except pizza dough only rises once. You could use white flour instead of bread, but that would make the dough very dense.
Place the yeast in a bowl, and pour in the water. Stir in the sugar until both yeast and sugar have dissolved, then leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Mix in the slat and a third of the flour, which should form a murky, powdery, liquid. Mix in another third of the flour until the dough starts to form a mass and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It should be quite wet and sticky still.
Sprinkle some flour (you can use white flour if you're running out of bread) onto a smooth work surgace. Remove the dough and begin to knead, working in the remaining third of the flour. Knead for 10-15 mins, by which time the dough should be elastic and smooth. If it's still sticky, work in more flour till it's smooth. Form into a ball.
Lightly oil a mixing bowl and place the dough into the bowl. Score it with a knife and cover with a moist towel. Leave the dough to prove for 40-50 minutes in a warm place.
When ready to use, punch the dough down to release the air and knead again for 1 - 2 minutes. Divide the dough into 2 balls and lightly flour them.
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp tomato paste
100-150g ham, chopped
50g mushrooms, sliced
20g onions, sliced
3 - 5 black olives, pitted and sliced
3 - 4 slices salami/pepperoni
300g mozzarella cheese, grated
Notes on Ingredients: Pizza toppings are of course extremely individual and customisable, so you can use anything that catches your fancy, like pineapples, anchovies and basil etc. Quantities are mere guidelines; since I tend to think in "handfuls" of toppings, feel free to use more or less. Pre-chopped ham is available from NTUC at the very affordable rate of 75c per 100g.
Preheat your oven to 250°C and flour your working surface.
Roll your pizza dough out with a rolling pin, into a circle. It doesn't have to be completely round, which in fact it probably won't be, as the dough tends to spring back after rolling. It makes sense at this point to lightly oil your baking tray and transfer the pizza dough onto it.
Spread the olive oil lightly over your pizza in order to help it develop a nice golden crust as it roasts in the oven.
Spread the tomato paste around the dough, leaving a rim where the crust will be. Try and spread the paste as evenly as possible, though a few rough spots are acceptable.
I tend to favour sprinkling some grated cheese onto the base first, before adding the other toppings, as it ensures they don't fall off as easily.
The other toppings can go on in any order, and since this is a personalised pizza, you can make it as generous (or parsimonious) as you wish.
Generally, the bigger the topping, the higher up it should go, so the salami was the last thing before I covered everything with more grated cheese.
Like so. You could conceivably use a different type of cheese, as in Quatro Formaggi, but I like mozzarella the best.
Bake the whole thing in the pre-heated oven for about 15 - 20 minutes, until the crust has turned golden and the cheese is bubbling and brown.
Remove the whole thing from the oven, transfer the pizza to a cutting board and cut into slices using a serrated knife to enjoy in true, messy, finger-licking style.