Homemade pizza is a huge treat and super easy too. You can do as much or as little as you like – you can buy a pre-made base and just add toppings, use shop-bought dough, or you can make it all from scratch.
It’s a great activity for children and brilliant for picky eaters, as they’re generally more enthusiastic when they’ve had a hand in making their own food.
We recently did an Instagram Live video with the brilliant Naomi Hansell in which she talked us through every step of pizza making and explained the science behind creating dough that works. You can watch it here.
If you can’t wait to get stuck in to pizza making, here are Naomi’s instructions for getting it right every time.
Makes six 8-inch snack-size pizzas or two AGA baking tray size pizzas.
7g sachet or 1 tsp dried yeast
500g strong white bread or pizza flour
1 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp coarse polenta for use with a peel or paddle
1-2 tbsp olive oil for large pizzas
400g of tomato pizza sauce (simply made from tinned tomatoes mixed with several good slugs of olive oil and seasoned with 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt).
250g grated mozzarella cheese
2-3 balls of fresh mozzarella or toppings of your choice.
Warm the water and yeast in a Pyrex jug on the back of the AGA for 10 minutes. Weigh the flour and salt into a medium-sized bowl and add the warm water and yeast mixture. Mix briefly until there are no dry patches and leave to rest for 10-20 minutes.
Knead the dough, either by hand for 10 minutes or so or in a food mixer with a dough attachment on the slowest speed. Put the dough in a warm place – in a bowl, sat on an AGA chefs’ pad or a folded tea towel on the lid of the simmering plate. Cover with a tea towel, beeswax wrap or cling film for an hour or so until it has doubled in size.
For individual pizzas, the dough can be shaped into balls, covered and left to rest again for an hour at room temperature or for up to 48 hours chilled in the fridge. A shallow storage box with a lid is useful for this.
To make, shape and assemble the pizzas, take a pizza peel or paddle and dust with some coarse polenta (this helps the pizza to slide off the paddle into the oven). Next, take a ball of dough – which should now be quite stretchy again – dip it in flour and stretch it with your hands until it’s thin. Then place it on the peel or the paddle, spoon over some pizza sauce to thinly cover the dough, going almost to the edges.
Add a handful or two of grated mozzarella and any other toppings.
For a simple margherita pizza, just tear up half a ball of mozzarella cheese and put it on top of the grated cheese.
Finally, give the paddle a gentle shake to check the pizza is still moving freely, then slide it directly on to the floor of the AGA roasting oven.
Bake for 5-10 minutes until it’s crispy on the base and the cheese is bubbling on top. Finish with some ground black pepper, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprig of fresh basil.
For a larger pizza, take a full-size AGA baking tray or AGA cold plain shelf lined with Bake-o-Glide, place half the risen dough on the Bake-o-Glide and stretch it out towards the corners with your fingers. Add the pizza sauce and toppings in the same way as for individual pizzas and bake in the roasting oven on the second set of runners for 15 minutes until it’s crispy and bubbling.
Hints, tips and other things to make with pizza dough
The dough can be proved overnight in the fridge instead of for an hour in a warm place. This helps develop the flavour of the dough, as well as making it easy to have pizza at a moment’s notice.
You can use a sourdough starter instead of dried yeast. Just give the dough at least overnight to rise.
Pizza dough balls can be shaped and chilled for up to 48 hours before being used to make pizzas.
Unused pizza dough can be recycled back into the next batch of fresh dough – simply add up to 100g in with the flour and knead as normal.
Use the dough to make mini dough balls – simply take a walnut-sized piece of dough, roll into a ball and bake in the AGA roasting oven on a baking tray on the second set of runners for 10 minutes or so. Serve with some garlic butter warmed until melted in a small bowl on the back of the enamel AGA top.
Use the dough to make a simple loaf of bread – just shape into a round or oblong shape, dust the top with flour and score with a sharp knife. Bake in the AGA roasting oven using a pizza paddle to slide it on to the floor of the oven. Cook for 10 minutes directly on the floor of the oven, then move up on to a grid shelf on the third or fourth set of runners to continue cooking for a further 30-40 minutes.