No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

My top recipe for students

Bread – and pizza is a type of bread - is perhaps the easiest thing you can make in your kitchen. It only requires four ingredients – three, if you discount the salt, which is not strictly necessary. These three – flour, water and yeast - when mixed and kneaded, left to rise for a while, and baked will result in something wonderful!

Once you’ve made this pizza, there’ll be no turning back! Home-made pizzas taste far and away better than bought ones – and this one will cost you less than a packet of own-brand flour. (A young friend of mine swears she financed half her social life by selling her pizzas to fellow students whilst away at university!)

If you're using a mug, use a standard coffee mug for this recipe - but any old cup or mug will do; just make sure you use the same container for measuring the flour and the liquid. Really, this recipe is all about the base - once you've rolled it out, in truth, you can put virtually anything on it. But more than that, once you've made this pizza dough, it can be turned into a whole range of other breads. At the end of this recipe, I'll list a few and link to them. I'll add more as I get time.

Basic cheese and tomato pizza (with variations)

200g (1 mug) strong white flour
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
125ml (1/3rd mug) lukewarm water
1 teaspoon of any sort of yeast, stirred in the water until it is dissolved
Splash of olive oil (optional)

Tomato topping – passata, 1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes or similar
100g Cheddar cheese grated

1. Place flour and salt (if using) into a mixing bowl. Measure the water in the same mug and add the yeast. Stir to dissolve then add to the flour. Pour the olive oil into the water in the bowl.

2. Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with your fingers. Stir round in big circles, pulling the flour off the sides of the bowls into the middle. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.

3. Knead by flattening the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth.

4. Form the dough into a round bap shape. Have plenty of flour to hand and scatter flour over the dough and worktop. With a rolling pin, roll it into a circle around  25-30cm (10-12”) across. Keep turning the dough around and refreshing the flour. Place the rolled out dough onto a tray lined with baking parchment (baking paper).

5. Pour the tomato topping over the pizza and spread it out with the back of a spoon, leaving it 1cm or half and inch from the edge. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the tomato, and leave to rise.

6. When the dough at the edge of the pizza has become puffy, place in a hot oven - the hotter the better - for 10-15 minutes, checking after 8. When they're done the pizza will lift up all along one side when you check underneath, using a palette knife. The bottom should be browning from the edges.

To get a crisp bottom to the pizzas, there are several things you can do:
• Make sure you keep the wet topping away from the edges – and don’t overload the pizza;
• Have a heavy metal tray at the bottom of the oven to use as a pizza stone. If you do this, have your pizzas on baking parchment on an up-turned tray – then you can just slide the pizzas into the oven.
• Finish them off in a large, dry, frying pan.

Use slices of cooked potato (new potatoes are nice) instead of tomato - and sprinkle the cheese with a strong herb such as rosemary or oregano.
Cover the base with a soft cheese such as Philadelphia, then thinly sliced onions, then chopped bacon bits - or sliced tomatoes or mushrooms.

The dough for this can also be used in many other ways - here's a couple of suggestions:
Sizzlers: divide the dough into four, roll each out into a circle, place a line of sliced tomatoes, mushrooms or onions across the circle and sprinkle with grated cheese. Then fold the sides over the top, place on a baking sheet and leave to rise.

Sausage and mustard parcels: Divide the dough into 6 pieces; flatten each piece out and wrap it round half a frankfurter or similar (I use vegan sausages) with a smear of wholegrain mustard.

Pasties: again, roll out 4 circles of dough, and place your chosen filling in the middle (mashed potato and cheese is good - perhaps with some onion, and maybe a teaspoon of curry powder). Bring one side over to the other and seal all the way round.

(More recipes to come based on this pizza dough)

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