“A pizza is a circle that comes in a square box that we eat in a triangle” - Anonymous
Ordering pizzas is easy but how can you make them yourself?
One in eight Brits doesn’t cook for themselves. Maybe they’d change their tune if they knew how to make pizza themselves.
Which are the best types of pizza? How do you get the dough right? Which cheese should you choose?
Be it a Margherita, pepperoni, or Funghi pizza, here’s how you can make them.
Where Do Pizzas Come From?
Who’s never eaten a pizza?
This Italian speciality has become famous all over the world. Whether it’s with a tomato or creme fraiche base, sweet, savoury, etc. there are tonnes of different types of pizza available on the market.
In the UK, pizzas are the most popular food in restaurants, the second most popular in supermarkets, and the fourth most popular fast food item. The market itself is worth £78.7 billion!
The history of pizza goes back to the late antiquity. The first signs of pizza date back to 997. Etymologically, the word has two possible origins. It may come from the German word “bizzo”, which referred to a “piece of bread” or the Greek word “pitta”, also bread-related.
The first pizza started as a piece of bread with different ingredients on it. It would go through several iterations before becoming the pizza as we know it today.
It started looking like a modern pizza around the Middle Ages when trade was booming. It’s also during this time that the Bretons started making galettes, the famous buckwheat pancake that would lead to the creation of crepes.
In Italy, the tomato and buffalo milk, which was used to make mozzarella, was incredibly influential on the development of the pizza. In Naples, people started by putting tomato onto their bread, like bruschetta as we know it today. The pizza wasn’t far away.
In the 18th century, 1780, to be precise, Raffaele Esposito decided to call his cheese and tomato pizza the “Margherita” in honour of the queen. Furthermore, the pizza became popular and regularly eaten by the nobility.
The pizza would later cross the borders and become the international success it is today.
Discover some more easy recipes for beginners.
How Can You Make a Good Pizza Dough?
Every chef will tell you that good dough is the most important part of a pizza. Some prefer a thin base, others a deep pan. So here are two recipes for the dough you prefer.
Dough for a Thin Crust
Firstly, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 500g of flour
- 1 sachet of baker’s yeast
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 250ml of warm water
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and then make a well. Place the salt, sugar, and baker’s yeast in a measuring cup. Pour the 250ml of warm water into a cup as you mix it with a fork.
Cover this with cling film and let sit for around 10 minutes. At the end of the 10 minutes, it should be brown with foam on top. Pour this mix into the mixing bowl and start mixing by hand.
Once the water’s been absorbed into the mix, knead the dough on a flat surface with flour on it so that it doesn’t stick. Knead for a few minutes and then add some olive oil. Keep kneading for a few more minutes.
You’ll then need to let the dough sit for around an hour. Cover it with a tea towel and put it near a heat source (pan, chimney, radiator, etc.).
Afterwards, you’ll need to knead the dough for a few more minutes. Take as much as you’ll need since you can always freeze any extra dough.
Now you need to spread the dough over an oiled dish.
You can then cook it in the oven for 10 minutes at 250°C.
Dough for a Thick Crust
For a thicker dough, you’ll need:
- 350g of flour (plus 100g for your bench).
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 sachet of baker’s yeast
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 250ml of warm water
This recipe is a lot like the first. However, start by pouring the flour into a large mixing bowl and immediately adding the salt, baker’s yeast, and olive oil. Then pour in the water as you delicately mix the dough. Keep mixing into the water stops sticking.
Like with the other dough, let this dough sit for around an hour covered by a damp tea towel.
Cover your bench with flour and spread out your dough before putting it in the oven on a tray. You can either oil the tray or use baking paper to ensure it doesn’t stick.
Cook at 220°C for around 12 minutes.
Fancy something a little different?
Learn how to make your own quiche.
Ingredients to Put on Pizzas
Making the pizza dough is one thing, choosing the right ingredients is another. Here are some ideas for the most popular pizzas.
For every pizza, start by covering the base with tomato sauce.
- Pizza Napoletana: start with 6 ground tomatoes and a bit of olive oil. Cook everything for around 15 minutes, take the pizza out of the oven, add mozzarella, oregano, anchovies, salt, and put the pizza back in for another 6 or 7 minutes.
- Pizza Margherita: start with 6 ground tomatoes and a bit of olive oil. Cook everything for around 15 minutes, take the pizza out of the oven, add mozzarella, basil, salt, olive oil, and put it back in the oven for a few minutes.
- Pizza Regina: add ham and chopped mushrooms to the tomato base and put in the oven. Take the pizza out of the oven, add mozzarella and olives, and cook for a short while longer.
- Pizza Hawaii: Like before, but add cheese, ham, and pineapple once the base is cooked.
White Pies (Creme Fraiche Base)
For every pizza, start by covering the base with creme fraiche.
- Pizza Savoyarde: Potatoes, lardons, onions, and reblochon cheese.
- Pizza Carbonara: Lardons, onions, and egg on a white base
Parmesan, tuna, smoked salmon, and goats cheese all go great on white pies.
Cooking Pizzas Right
It’s not easy to cook a pizza correctly. Pizzaiolos use ovens that go up to 400°C. Since your oven at home can’t reach these temperatures, you’ll need to adapt.
The hotter the oven, the better your pizza will be. To make your pizza crunchy, you’ll need to have a big temperature differential. Make sure you preheat your oven before cooking your pizza. You can also keep a bowl of water in the oven while cooking it. The vapour will ensure the pizza isn’t too try. Place your pizza towards the bottom of the oven so that the cheese doesn’t burn but the dough is cooked.
Advice for Making Pizzas
Here are some tips for making the best pizzas in the world.
Make sure you season your pizza. You can add rosemary, basil, or even curry powder into the dough to give it a taste. Similarly, garlic and pepper can be added to the tomato or creme fraiche base.
Stretch your dough out just like the pizzaiolos do, too! Flatten it out with your thumb.
Consider preparing the dough in the morning if you have the time. The longer it sits, the more time it’ll have to rise.
In a rush?
Here's how to make a Croque monsieur.
Who said pizzas needed to be savoury?
There are more and more different types of sweet pizzas being created.
You can create a chocolate base with bananas and almonds. You can also make it like an apple by with an apple compote and apple slices. Of course, make sure you don’t cook it for too long in the oven.
Why not serve it with some ice cream?
Got a sweet tooth?
Learn how to make your own crepes.
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Online tutorials tend to be cheaper as the tutor doesn't have to travel and can schedule more tutorials per week. Of course, it can be trickier to learn without a tutor in the room with you.
Finally, if you're looking to save some money, group tutorials tend to be the cheapest per hour. While you won't get your tutor's undivided attention, the cost of the lesson is divided between all the students in attendance.