Last week there was a lot of pizza talk floating around Twitter between the Irish foodies, then Reindeersp suggested that we should have a pizza party via twitter aka the #twizzaparty! The plan was that last Thursday we would all make our own pizzas and these efforts would be judged by Italian Foodie. The other pizza makers extrodinaire were; An American in Ireland, Babaduck Babbles, Bibliocook, Dinner du Jour, Gluttony for Beginners, I Can Has Cook and Like Mam Used To Make.
I started off by using the dough recipe and method detailed here by Gluttony for Beginners. I was interested to read the part about putting the dough on the hot baking tray before adding the toppings, as I think this is where I went wrong the first time I tried to make pizza, as the dough didn't end up quite cooked in the middle.
Anyway, I made my dough on the Wednesday evening and it rose spectacularly. I knocked it back and stuck it in an oiled freezer bag in the fridge overnight. When I went to look at it again the next evening, the dough was busily trying to escape from the bag, I had forgotten that it would continue to rise in the fridge and would need a little extra room than what I gave it.
I also made my normal tomato sauce, but let it reduce further than I would if I were using it for pasta, exchanged the mixed herbs for oregano and left out the red wine. As you can see, I also made a bit of a mess while cooking it. The little bit of chilli in the sauce ended up giving the pizzas a lovely warmth, which worked really well.
My next thoughts were on what delightful toppings to put on what would surely be a masterpiece of a pizza. I decided that since it was only my second time making pizza I would keep it simple and use a variety of differnet cheeses and hams. I choose some baked ham and parma ham, then I picked out three cheeses to use, buffalo mozzarella (of course!), mature white cheddar and gruyère. Here they are all laid out on a plate for easy access.
I split the dough into 4 pieces and proceeded to roll out the first piece using loads of flour. I also used my hands to stretch it out as well. Eventually I had something that resembled a pizza base, though it wasn't very circular or square for that matter, it was more blob shaped.
While I was organising my dough and toppings, the oven had been heating up to 250°C with the baking tray inside also heating up. I decided to use my baking tray upside down as it gave me a larger, smoother surface area to deal with. I removed the tray from the oven and carefully placed my excitingly shaped pizza base on top of it. I then added the delicious tomato sauce, leaving a gap around the edges for easy handling once it was cooked.
I had a bit of a mental blip while putting on the toppings and forgot that the cheese goes on first and then everything else. I did it the other way around, putting on the ham first and then the cheese.
One it was covered with all the hammy, cheesey goodness I popped it into the oven for about 10 mins. As it came out there was the most wonderful smell and a pall of smoke that set off my smoke alarm, as my oven needs a little bit of clean and gets bit smokey when it gets hot. Once I got the alarm under control, the pizza was cool enough for eating and it tasted so very, very good.
Once the Beau came home I cooked up a couple more, and his first one came out a little rounder.
I ended up cooking 4 pizzas of which the Beau ate 1½ and I ate 1 and 1 slice, but had the rest cold for lunch the next day.
I will definitely be making pizza again, it was really easy to put together and tasted delicious. Next time though I will be a little more experimental with the flavours, I particularly liked the sound of asparagus, which was used by some of the other participants.
Here's a final picture of the Beau, looking pleased as punch to be having homemade pizza.
UPDATE: The winner of our Twizza Party was Gluttony for Beginners, from whom I pinched the recipe for my pizza base. Congratulations to her on the win!