Preheat the oven to its lowest setting. Place the flour in a bowl and warm it slightly in the oven for about 10 minutes. Turn the oven off.
Take a large bowl and sift the flour, salt and sugar into it. Add the yeast and mix. Then make a well in the centre, add the olive oil and the water. Mix to a dough first with a wooden spoon and then your hands. The bowl will need to be wiped clean with the dough, adding a few more drops of water to incorporate any dry bits. Transfer the dough to a board and knead for 3 minutes. You can involve the children at this stage! It should be springy and elastic with a sheen. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl. Lightly oil some clingfilm and cover the bowl with it, oiled side down. Leave it at room temperature to double in size. This should take about an hour.
Tip the dough back onto a floured board and “knock it back” ie knock all the air out of it. Then knead it for a few seconds and form it into a ball. It is at this stage you can freeze it. To use the dough, pre-heat the oven to Gas mark 8 / 230°C (about 210°C for a fan oven). The dough will make 2 large or 4 individual pizzas. Divide your dough into 2 or 4. On a floured board with a floured rolling pin roll out the dough, and then finish stretching the dough out from the centre using your hands. It will need to be quite thin but do form a raised rim to keep the filling in place. Place the pizza bases on baking sheets. Top with tomato sauce.
In a saucepan, fry the onion in the oil till softened. Add the rest of the ingredients. Do not cover. Simmer gently until thick and jammy. This will take about an hour. Remove the bay leaf and leave the sauce to cool.
You can add other vegetables to this sauce if you like such as celery or peppers. Fry in the oil with the onions before adding the other ingredients. Chilli can also be added.
To use the tomato sauce spoon it on to the pizza bases which you have first brushed with olive oil. Spread it out evenly up to but not over the raised rim. Top with your choice of toppings ---- see below. Bake on a high shelf for 10 – 12 minutes. The crust should be golden brown and any cheese should be bubbling.
Suggested toppings include: Ham, chorizo or salami cut into small squares, drained tinned tuna, cooked prawns, mushrooms sliced thinly, red green or yellow peppers sliced or cut into cubes, sundried tomatoes, anchovies, black olives, capers, mozzarella or smoked mozzarella sliced, gorgonzola cubed, sage or basil leaves dipped in olive oil, thinly sliced deseeded chillis.
© Monica Askay - December 2018
Pizza Dough (serves 4)
350g / 12oz plain white flour (+ extra flour for kneading and rolling)
1 tsp salt
2 tsps easy-blend dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsps olive oil 240 ml / 8 fl oz hand-hot water (this means that you can comfortably put your finger in the water for a few seconds)
2 tbsps olive oil
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 x 400g / 14 oz tins chopped tomatoes
Leaves from a sprig of fresh basil, removed from the stalk and torn small
1 large bayleaf
Freshly milled black pepper