Sunday, 18 August 2013

Lazy Person Pizza

From about 06:30 on Thursday until about 14:30 today it has just been me and the dog in the house while my parents visited my brother Christopher and his family in Wales so I've had plenty of time to get up to no good in the kitchen. Really that should be up to lots of good because I have made lots of lovely things which I am very pleased with as well as having had chance to watch Pirates of the Caribbean 1 and Captain America. I've taken the dog for a walk each day too though that hasn't stopped her from not being friends with me the entire time it was just us. It's not that Cassie hates me (I think) but that she doesn't consider me the most exciting person in the world unless I'm stripping a cooked chicken of meat. I feel that is a bit mean of her because not once did I forget to feed her at the correct time, I kept her water dish full and she even got to come with me while I did the errands down at the village shops where a little girl repeatedly exclaimed 'Mummy look! Look at that cute dog! Mummy, mummy, can you see that cute dog?!' Cassie loves to be told she is beautiful.

Maybe things would have been different between us these last few days if I had shared this pizza with Cassie. It has to be the best homemade pizza I've ever had and definitely the easiest to make. There was no kneading involved, very little time and yet I still got a wonderfully flavoursome dinner that took all my strength to make me save a slice for my lunch the next day. The idea popped into my head the day before Mum and Dad left while I was thinking what to do with the abundance of peach tomatoes we've got apart from make a pasta sauce. I wasn't sure if it would work but I thought what the hell, I'll give it a go anyway. I really fancied pizza but, to put it bluntly, couldn't be bothered with the effort of kneading and I also reckoned I could use some of the pasta sauce on it too instead of putting it in the freezer.

So how did I do it? Soda bread. Easy peasey, mix, shape and bake. It was only after I'd enjoyed the results that I looked up on Pinterest how many other people had had the same idea so I know it isn't exactly original but still, I hadn't see it before so I thought I was being pretty clever. Honestly, it was that good that I don't think I'll ever attempt a traditional pizza dough again. For me, there really is no point. Why waste time and energy when I can produce something that I like better by taking the easy route. Personally I would like to call this Sensible Person Pizza but that makes it sounds so boring and this was anything but. I used Paul Hollywood's soda bread recipe from his How to Bake as the basis for me, tweaking the flour to include wholemeal bread flour because I thought it would give extra flavour and we have loads of it from when I got four bags at silly prices last year because they had almost reached their best before date. I used milk soured with lemon juice too because we didn't have any buttermilk and I added more bicarb to allow for the time taken to shape, stuff the crust with Philadelphia (yes!) and add the toppings. 

It really was one of those times when it all goes just right. The crust was thick and chewy yet with the initial crispiness that simply cannot be achieved with a sodden, greasy mass produced concoction and it allowed me to be generous with the toppings because it provided me with the perfect deep edge to contain evertyhting I wanted. The base was crisp underneath too and the addition of the wholemeal flour added extra depth and helped to make this as close as a pizza can get to being healthy. You could use any toppings you want really. I went for sliced chicken pieces tossed in a (very) little chilli powder with mozarella. Using the pasta sauce worked really well too because I make mine somewhat chunky for extra texture and goodness. Is there anything I would do differently next time? Not much to be honest. I'd like to try a version with a mozzarella stuffed crust because that is my favourite cheese at the moment and one with a meat feast theme. It would be nice to get the traditional circular shape too but seeing as this was supposed to be a meal made with little effort and the dough seemed to want to be vaguely rectangular I didn't argue. I was more bothered about the taste testing to come but really, it couldn't have been any better. I really struggled to get pictures because all I wanted to do was devour my creation. There was no ladylike eating habits here! Even typing this has made me hungry so I had better hurry up and give you the recipe before I make myself race to the kitchen and star making another one! Before I do though, what's your favourite pizza topping? Or do you prefer to mix and match? All ideas welcome!

100ml semi-skimmed milk mixed with 1 tsp lemon juice
65g strong wholemeal flour
60g plain white flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt

Any tomato sauce you like e.g. pasta sauce, puree, passata
Toppings of choice

Set the oven to 220 C/200 C with a baking tray inside and make sure everything is ready before you start. The key to soda bread is to be very quick once the liquid is mixed with the dry ingredients so all the gas is kept inside the bread to make it rise. Even though I've added extra bicard here to counteract the gas wasted during prepping, it's not a good idea to take liberties. You still want some rise in the dough.

Stir the salt, bicarb and both flours evenly together then stir in the soured milk. Mix everything together picking up all the flour to make a sticky dough. 
Dust a piece of baking paper generously with flour  and squidge the dough together on it, picking up enough of the flour to make it not sticky but manageable. Stretch and pat the dough into whatever shape you want, spread Philadelphia around the edge and fold the edge over, pressing down to seal all the way round.
Spread the tomato sauce out then add your toppings.
Lift the whole lot, baking paper included onto the hot baking sheet and bake for about 20 mins until the exposed crust is browned and feels crisp to the touch. Remove, slice and serve immediately. Don't bother with taking wonderful photos. Now is the moment to simply enjoy the amazing pizza you have just created with little effort, no greasiness, tonnes of flavour and in less time that it would take for an ordered pizza to arrive!


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