There's something I just have to get off my chest - I LOVE thin crusted pepperoni pizza. Forget the new and imaginative gourmet toppings, this is the one for me and if you're ever ordering one from a Pizza chain like Pizza Hut, this is one that I find they can't really screw up (ok they did once but I got a free pack of Magnums for it). My days of ordering from them are over ever since I got my Cooks Companion for a wedding gift (thanks Lou and Andrew!) and I've stuck with Stephanie Alexander's pizza dough recipe. This is a slight variation on her recipe which works for me every time:
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Basic pizza dough
(makes 2 pizzas)
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 400 g plain flour
- 1 cup water (warm to hot) mixed with 1 tablespoon oil (I use the oil from a jar of sun dried tomatoes for extra flavour) and1 tablespoon salt dissolved.
Mix the yeast and flour together and then gradually add the cup of water with oil & salt stirring with a large fork until it starts to come together, knead lightly picking up all of the flour from the sides of the bowl while kneading.
After this either put it in a mixer with a dough hook for 8 mins or knead by hand for 15 minutes until smooth and elastic. The reason I make my water so hot in comparison to the recommended "lukewarm" is because I keep the instant dried yeast in the freezer so the yeast granules need a bit more heat to activate them.
Grease bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, transfer dough to bowl, cover with plastic film or tea towel and place over a bigger bowl filled with hot water (I do this is Winter where there isn't really a warm place to sit it or when I'm running out of time) until doubled in size (approximately 1 hour).
Knock dough back (my favourite sadistic bit!) and gently fold in 4 and allow to rise again covered for 30 minutes in double bowl water bath with a fresh lot of hot water.
250 grams pepperoni or salami finely sliced (spicy spanish salami is really good on pizza)
2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
4x fat juicy sun dried tomatoes cut in small pieces
Tomato pasta sauce (a nice thick one)
1 spanish onion finely sliced into rings
350grams grated cheese (mozarella or combination of your favourite cheeses)
Preheat oven to 220c and place pizza tray inside so that it gets very hot. Roll out dough to desired shape and brush lightly with oil (again I use the oil from a jar of sun dried tomatoes for extra flavour). Place on large sheet of baking paper and then spread tomato pasta sauce, scatter garlic, onion, sun dried tomatoes and pepperoni and then top with cheese. Slide onto now hot baking tray carefully (I need an extra pair of hands for this) and bake for 15 minutes on the top rung of the oven.
If I want to make a simple vegetarian version I replace the pepperoni with char grilled eggplant (drained well on paper towels otherwise it can get too greasy).