I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but summer has arrived. (By arrived, I mean swept in out of nowhere and caused a mini meltdown throughout London, but we wont be pedantic.) People are sweltering on the tube, complaining loudly in the street and – perhaps most crucially – walking in endless circles getting burnt while playing Pokemon Go. And, in the midst of all this drama, there was only one thing to do… Retreat to a friends flat, armed with various terrible films, and attempt to make pizza from scratch.
It started off well, although the allure of shopping at a Sainsburys Marketplace quickly wore off. You’d reasonably assume that there would be some kind of system, and that that system would be vaguely similar to other familiar systems followed by other supermarkets. You’d be wrong. Everything – from cheese to pizza dough – takes twice as long to find and twice as long to pay for because the place is so big. Luckily, we didn’t need much, because apparently home-made pizza is so simple that even I can manage it. And I did feel slightly more sophisticated than I usually do when I go shopping, so there are definite plus points.
So, what did we buy? The essentials were obvious: ready to mix dough, tomato sauce (we opted for the helpful ‘tomato pizza base’ which was hidden by the tomato puree) and cheese (mozzarella was on offer) were all relatively easy to find. We decided that we needed cherry tomatoes (only 90p for a bag), salami, mushrooms, onions and spinach to make the pizza slightly more exciting and make our limited supply of dough more filling.
After battling our way through finding the ingredients, the actual making of the pizza was relatively easy. Stage One was dough – we’d chosen a ready-mix bag, which meant that we added water to the mixture, kneaded it and then rolled it into shapes which vaguely resembled circles. The only slight issue was that the dough kept sticking to the worktop, but apparently this was my fault, due to a lack of flour. Apparently I should make it very clear to CUB readers that the work surface should be sufficiently floured before you try to knead dough. You can thank me later.
While we were leaving the dough to prove for fifteen minutes, we started preparing the toppings. Mozzarella, I quickly learned, is best opened over a sink, unless clothes covered in cheese-liquid is your thing. Each to their own.
It took some experimenting, but we discovered that the best way of layering was to have the tomato base, then mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and red onions and finally, more cheese. It wasn’t until the pizzas were in the oven that we realised we’d made a mistake with the spinach; I’d created a mountain and scattered my other ingredients around it, expecting great things… but cooked spinach wilts, and the effect wasn’t really what I was after. Still, it looked impressive.
And that, really, was that. We left them to cook for fifteen minutes, tried and failed to make the bases crispy, and then enjoyed. Overall, it was a quick and easy meal which we made relatively cheaply, but it’s probably something to do in a group rather than alone. We made the two bags of dough stretch to three people, and still had half a pizza left when we were finished, so it’s a meal which could last for a while if you buy in bulk.
Ease: 7/10. There were a lot of stages, and it involved buying specific ingredients rather than using up what we had, but it was worth it.
Improvements: We discovered that using the cheese sparingly was probably the best idea, otherwise the rest of the toppings are drowned out. Also, spinach is best when it hasn’t been cooked for fifteen minutes.
Housemate Rating: 7/10. This was more of a joint effort, but overall we decided it was a success!