The weather here in London is getting better by the day. The sun wakes up earlier and goes to sleep later, so we are getting many more lovely hours of daylight.
As I was heading to work on Friday morning, with the radiant sun warming my face, I knew a Friday evening pizza picnic was on the cards. What better way to end a long week.
I made the dough as soon as I got home, whipped up the Napoletana Sauce to go on top, and in no time all we were basking in the glorious Friday afternoon sun, munching on warm pizza. The perfect way to bring in the weekend!
This is another of my Mum's recipes. This pizza makes quite a regular appearance at family gatherings and weekend get togethers. Mum cooks hers in the wood fire oven so it has an extra lovely flavour and texture. It still cooks really well in a conventional oven.
It also freezes really well, so Mum generally makes a triple batch and then freezes the rest in already cut slices for a quick, portable lunch on the go.
MAKES 3-4 PIZZAS
For the dough:
600g strong, white bread flour (plus a couple extra handfuls for kneading and dusting)
1 tbs quick action dried yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
500ml tepid water
2 tbs olive oil
For the sauce:
One quantity of Napoletana sauce (find the recipe here)
You can top your pizza with anything you like. I always top the sauce with grated mozzarella cheese or fresh mozzarella (like bocconcini) and then add other toppings such as thinly sliced red peppers, thinly sliced onion, salami or prosciutto- you really can choose whatever you like.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast and salt together.
In a separate bowl or measuring jug, combine the water and oil.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour in the water and oil a little at a time, mixing in the flour as your go until the wet and dry ingredients are well combined.
You should be left with quite a sticky dough. Grab and extra handful of flour and sprinkle evening over the top.
Leave to rise in a warm, draught free place for an hour, or until doubled in size.
When it's ready, knock back the dough by punching it down with your hands.
Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead, adding some extra dustings of flour as you go. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and pliable.
Divide the dough into 3-4 even portions, depending on how thick you like the crust.
Knead each portion in a ball and place on a floured tray. Leave this to rise for another 45 minutes to an hour, or until doubled in size.
During this second proving stage, preheat the oven to 180˚C Fan Forced and grease 3-4 medium pizza trays with olive oil.
When dough is ready, flatten each portion out onto the oiled trays, using your hands, spreading it right out to fill the tray.
Place your desired toppings on the dough. I generally top mine with Napoletana sauce (a simple, tomato sauce), mozzerella and fresh basil. Use this as your base and add any seasonal vegetables or good quality salami or prosciutto. Don't overload it. The more simple it is, the better.
Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the base is lovely and crispy and your toppings are golden.