Pizza basics

While the shop-bought variety is great when time is short, prepackaged pizza bases never compare with home made. Here we provide recipes for a delicious basic pizza crust and also a nutritious wholemeal pizza crust.
Homemade tomato sauce is very easy to make and is often preferable to shop-bought varieties. See below for a yummy recipe.

Basic Pizza Crust

Serves 4
This dough is perfect for a traditional pizza base.

1 1/2 cups white flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried yeast
1/2 – 2/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, then stir in the yeast. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the lukewarm water and olive oil. Mix well with a spoon until the mixture forms a soft dough.
Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for around 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover. Leave the bowl in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour or until the dough has roughly doubled in size.

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead again for about 2 or 3 minutes. Roll out the dough into the required shape and then place on a greased baking tray. Push up the edges slightly to make a rim. The pizza base is now ready for topping.

Once topped, bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges.

Wholemeal Pizza Crust

Serves 8
Whole wheat baking can sometimes be heavy, however this is a lovely, light, pizza crust; it’s delicious as well as healthy.

1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour

Tip the warm water into a large bowl and then stir in the sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the top and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.

Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the white flour until the dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining white flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Once the dough is doubled, tip out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust pizzas. Form into a tight ball and then let rise for a further 45 minutes, until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Using a rolling pin, roll out each ball of dough until it has reached the desired shape and thickness. Place on a well oiled pizza pan. The base is now ready for topping.

Once topped, bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges.

Basic Tomato Sauce

Serves 4 (makes about 2 cups)
This sauce is perfect as a pizza base, but it is equally good as a pasta sauce and can also be used chilled as a dipping sauce.

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 dozen ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup of vegetable stock
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mixed herbs

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat. Fry the onion, stirring frequently, until it is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaves and cook for about 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and the vegetable stock. Cover the sauce and bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Take out the bay leaves and stir in the mixed chopped herbs. If you require a smooth texture then blend the sauce in a food processor.

Using fresh tomatoes instead of canned
Fresh tomatoes are better than canned as they generally have far more flavor (and when in season can often be cheaper than canned). However, canned tomatoes are also fine to use.

Peeling your fresh tomatoes before adding them to your sauce gives a smoother texture.
To peel your tomatoes, use a sharp knife and make a cross in each tomato, then place them in a saucepan. Pour over boiling water until the tomatoes are covered and leave for about 30 seconds. During this time you should be able to see the skins start to peel away. Drain the tomatoes and then peel the rest of the skin off with your fingers or with a knife.