Many countries and cultures celebrate their own variations on ‘pizzas’ or flatbreads. The word ‘pizza’ is Greek in origin and was originally used to describe pressed bread topped with cheese, herbs, oil and even honey.
Incredibly, the modern Italian pizza we all know and love is only said to have originated in Naples, Italy, about a hundred or so years ago. The most famous of modern pizzas, a pizza margherita, depicts the red, white and green colours of the Italian flag using tomato sauce, mozzarella and fresh basil.
Making a pizza at home is straightforward and once you’ve mastered basic pizza dough, you can easily make a batch and store a couple of bases to hand in the freezer for later. Pizza is a great crowd-pleaser, for adults and children alike, and there’s no shortage of weird and wonderful toppings you can all try. So, why not put out a whole selection of toppings, rolling pins, give everyone a ball of dough and host a pizza party?
Some of the most common pizza toppings include anchovies, ham, mushrooms, olives, pepperoni, seafood, sausage and grilled vegetables. There are no rules when it comes to creating your own pizzas at home! You could even shred your leftover roast pork, chicken or lamb, and scatter it on top of a base with some mozzarella cheese. Or try this unusual slow-roasted shredded pork with thyme, Taleggio & lemon-dressed rocket pizza dressing.
If I’m making pizza for the children, I always spread the base with a tasty homemade tomato sauce and encourage them to scatter over grated carrot before the layer of cheese, to ensure that they get a few extra nutrients. They also like to crack an egg into the middle of the pizza and enjoy bursting the yolk when it’s fresh from the oven!
For something a little different, making a large Calzone (stuffed) pizza can be a fun way of feeding the family. Make the base in the same way as you would for a regular pizza, roll out the dough and scatter your fillings over half of the pizza before folding the other half over to make one big pizza pocket. Don’t forget to crimp or seal the edges well so that the fillings and hot air don’t leak during cooking. Once baked, your Calzone pizza should resemble a giant Cornish pasty in shape, all puffed up with steam and golden brown in colour.
Finally, if you are completely new to pizza making at home, you could watch this video by Eat It! and make a cheat’s pizza, taken from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. There’s no yeast involved, just self-raising flour and water, which is combined to make the base.
Ren Behan is a food writer and mum of two. Find out more at www.renbehan.com